Few dogs are as unique as the Chihuahua. This toy sized dog is well known for its erect ears and large round eyes. Often the dog of choice for those in restricted living spaces, a well-trained and well-cared for Chihuahua can be a wonderful companion and a joy to have as part of a family.
Keeping your Chihuahua at the peak of physical and mental wellness involves lots of stimulation, exercise and the right food. However, with so many types and brands available, knowing what to feed them can be tricky. Luckily, that’s where we come in. Here are five of the best dog foods chosen by our panel of pet lovers and Chihuahua experts.
Buying Guide & FAQ
Best Dog Foods for Chihuahua Buying Guide
Chihuahuas are very energetic dogs who need a lot of exercise and a diet rich in protein and high quality complex carbohydrates to help them maintain consistent energy levels. However, with so many foods purporting to offer just this, how do you choose between them, and ensure that you are feeding your pet pooch the right ingredients. The best way to achieve this is by looking closely at the ingredients that any food has, including the source of its protein and carbohydrates. Reading our buying guide also helps you to make the best decisions for your canine companion.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Chihuahua Puppy?
When deciding how much to feed your Chihuahua, you should start by finding a good quality food designed for your breed of dog. If you cannot find one that you like that is breed specific, then look for one that is designed for toy or small dogs. This is important because toy and small dogs have very specific protein needs and require small sized kibble pieces.
Once you have found the right food, start by following the feeding guidelines on the packet and then adjust the quantity up or down to suit your individual dog’s needs. Feeding guidelines are usually set based on the weight of your dog, so it is important to weigh them regularly and to know the recommended weight for your dog at their age and stage of life. If your Chihuahua is severely over or under weight, then you should get advice from your local veterinarian.
In terms of when to feed your Chihuahua, it is recommended that for puppies under 3 months, food is left out all the time, so they can eat as they need to. From 3 months, food should be split into 3 or 4 separate meals. This should be reduced to 2 to 3 meals at 6 months and 2 meals a day from around a year old.
Ingredients to Look For When Feeding Your Chihuahua
Chihuahuas have very specific dietary needs and on top of that they can be extremely fussy about what they eat. Given this it is important that you find a high-quality food that meets their needs and that they like. Signs of a high-quality food include not containing any artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, not including nutrient poor but calorie rich fillers, and having meat as one of the key ingredients. Here are a few other things to watch for:
- Fruit, vegetables and whole grains
Chihuahuas are very energetic dogs and need high levels of protein and complex carbohydrates to maintain healthy muscles and to keep their energy level stable. If foods are full of processed carbohydrates then, like humans, they experience steep rises and falls in energy. This has a negative effect on their physical health and on their temperament. Good carbohydrate sources include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It is recommended that vegetables make up about 40% of the ingredients in your Chihuahua’s food.
Fiber is important to the transit of food through the digestive system. Too little and your dog is likely to suffer from constipation. However, the wrong type can leave them bloated as well. Again, this is where whole grains and vegetables are important.
It is worth reiterating the importance of not only a high meat content, but also the need for good quality meat to be included in your dog’s food. Meat should be the number one ingredient on the list of ingredients in your food. Avoid foods where the majority of the meat comes from by-products. Ideally, you want a food that contains no animal by-products as these contain little to no nutritional value.
What Food to Avoid Feeding Your Chihuahua
Not all dog foods are created equal and some can actually harm your Chihuahua. The main foods to avoid are those that contain high levels of filler. These are low in nutritional value, but high in calories. They are likely to cause obesity and increase the risk of degenerative joint disease. Additionally, you should avoid feeding your dog:
- Chocolate – especially dark chocolate contains high levels of theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea and seizures.
- Onions – along with garlic, these are known to cause anemia in dogs.
- Caffeine – Chihuahua’s are already energetic enough and do not need stimulants. It is also dangerous for them as it raises the heart rate.
- Bones – chicken bones especially as these can splinter and cause problems long the digestive system, as well as catching in teeth and gums. Bones in general can cause diarrhea and other tummy problems.
- Grapes, raisins, cherries – along with macadamia nuts and avocado, these are toxic to your pet. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.
- Xylitol – Artificial sweeteners can cause liver damage and drastic drops in blood sugar levels in dogs. For a small dog, like a Chihuahua, it would take very little to create toxic dose, so it is best avoided altogether.
- Alcohol – while t is obvious that dogs should not be given alcoholic drinks, alcohol is present in, or created in the dog’s stomach by, many other things that you may not automatically consider dangerous. Yeast, a common ingredient in everything from pizza to bread rolls is one such item.
Things To Consider When Buying Chihuahua Dog Food
Pet food labels can be very confusing and contain a lot of different terminology as well as very long lists of ingredients. Here are the top things to watch out for when you are choosing the perfect food for your pooch.
- Protein, carbohydrate and starch ratios
Good quality food for Chihuahuas has a protein / carb/ starch ratio of around 40 / 40 / 20. Protein needs to come from quality meat and fish sources and carbs should be complex carbohydrates from whole grain, fruit and vegetable sources. Regular potato does not count as a complex carbohydrate and if it is included, it should be considered a starch, along with items such as pasta.
- Amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are therefore essential to your dog’s wellbeing. Look for foods that list the specific meat sources to ensure that your dog is getting the amino acids they need.
- Vitamins and minerals
Like all dogs Chihuahuas need food that is balanced and contains all the vitamins and minerals they need for healthy immune systems, healthy skin and coats and healthy development. Quality foods should list vitamins, A, E, C and B-12 among their ingredients, along with DHA omega oils, folic acid and minerals including calcium Iodate and Sodium Selenite.
- Kibble size
Chihuahuas only have small teeth and jaws, it is therefore important that the food you buy reflects the needs. Kibble should be small and easy for them to bite. Dry food is better than wet food for Chihuahuas generally, because it helps maintain healthy teeth and gums.
- Wheat and grains
An increasing number of dog foods are wheat, or wheat and grain free. There is no agreement as to whether dogs should avoid grains, unless they have a specific stomach or allergy issue. However, some owners prefer a completely grain free approach to food. If you are buying a food that includes grains go for one that uses whole grains as this is more beneficial and contains better fiber.
- Artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
These should be avoided at all costs, along with corn syrups, fillers and refined grains. They have no benefit to your Chihuahua and could be harmful, preventing uptake of nutrients and affect the speed of transit of food through the digestive system.
- Age appropriateness
The age of your Chihuahua affects the specific balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need. If you have a puppy, then it is best to buy food specifically designed for this stage of their life. Pregnant or nursing dogs also have different needs and you may find a different food, feeding pattern, or amounts of food are needed during this time.
If you have any concerns about the wellbeing of your dog, whether related to food or not, seek help from your local veterinarian as soon as possible. But, by following this guide, you can ensure that you buy the right food for your Chihuahua to keep them happy and healthy for many years to come.