How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas
Chihuahuas have unique calorie needs that require special attention. These small dogs may fool you into thinking that they don’t need much food, but they do have high energy needs that must be met. The average adult Chihuahua needs approximately 40 calories per pound of body weight, so an average adult Chi weighing in at 7 pounds would need about 280 calories per day.
Look for a dog food high in protein, moderate in fats, and low in carbohydrates. The AAFCO does a great job of giving dog food profile guidelines to prevent you from overfeeding or undernourishing your dog.
Besides these general guidelines, look for the following specifics when buying Chihuahua food for your tiny furry friend.
Features of Good Chihuahua Food Recipe
Chihuahuas are so small you may be tempted to feed them puppy food, but that won’t do! These dogs are highly active and therefore have high energy demands. They need about 200 to 400 calories per day (depending on weight) to sustain them, but keep an eye on your individual dog’s needs.
High Protein food is best for Chihuahuas to gain muscles and preventing muscle deterioration. Look for dog foods with real animal protein in the ingredients. Real chicken, lamb, or beef are excellent protein sources, and quality dog foods list this ingredient first to indicate it as the main ingredient.
There are no set requirements for carb content in dog food for Chihuahua, but make sure that the carbs included are healthy and beneficial. Carbs act as sources of energy, which reserve protein and fat for other useful bodily functions.
Look for healthy carbs in ingredients like brown rice, root vegetables, fruit, and seeds that will give your dog the energy they need as well as ease digestion.
Chihuahuas are prone to weight gain but still need fat in their diet to remain healthy. Fat provides energy, as well as supports brain function and coat health. Fatty acids also make for a heart-healthy dog and prevent heart disease, which tends to affect these small dogs.
20 to 25% fat in dog food is ideal to feed Chihuahua.
Vitamins and Minerals
Chis need a variety of vitamins and minerals to keep their immune system, brain function, eyes, and skin and fur in good condition. Glucosamine and chondroitin support the joints and bones, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids help your dog’s heart and brain, and make for healthy skin and coat.
Antioxidants work to keep your dog’s immune system stable, and probiotics aid in digestion.
Fiber must be included in your Chihuahua’s food to prevent constipation. Excellent sources of fiber include fruits and root veggies, as well as healthy whole grains like rice and barley. The dog foods we have listed above have all the necessary fruits and vegetables mentioned in the ingredients.
Choosing Food According to Life Stage of Chihuahua
Chihuahua puppies need lots of protein and carbohydrates to keep them growing and full of energy. Protein is crucial for muscle development, and carbohydrates provide much-needed energy. Complex carbohydrates are especially crucial as they prevent hypoglycemia, a condition that tends to afflict this particular dog breed.
Adult Chihuahuas need a high protein, moderate fat, and low carb diet. Protein maintains their muscle and bone health, while fats support brain function, heart health, and skin and coat health.
Omega-6 fatty acids relieve any skin irritations and antioxidants such as vitamin E and C help to stimulate the immune system. Additionally, fructooligosaccharides encourage the growth of good intestinal bacteria, which aid in digestion.
Vitamins and minerals such as glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health, while Vitamins A, D, K, and C work towards keeping the eyes, bones, blood, and immune system healthy.
Senior Chihuahuas need lots of protein and fat. Protein keeps their muscles healthy, and fats help to support their heart function.
Pay particular attention to the protein as senior dogs over the age of eight, as they need 50% more protein than younger adults. Joint health is also crucial as these little guys tend to suffer from dislocating kneecap and arthritis.
Chihuahua Health Conditions and Special Dietary Needs
Food for Bone and Joint Health
Bone and joint health are so important for this small breed, and nutrition can help prevent ailments such as floating kneecap, arthritis, and Legg-Perthes disease. Make sure your dog food ingredients have sufficient amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as Vitamin D. Both are crucial to bone and joint health in Chihuahua.
Food for Healthy Skin and Coat
Vitamin E, also known as linoleic acid and omega fatty acids, are essential to the health of your Chis coat. Without these supplements in their diet, your dog may shed, and also have a coarse, gritty coat that looks unhealthy.
These fatty acids are also crucial in supporting cognitive function and mental acuity.
Food for Digestive Health
As the most sensitive dog breed in the world, these dogs need special diets to make sure their digestive tracts are not irritated. Look for grain-free dog foods as much as possible and incorporate probiotics and fructooligosaccharides to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria.
Fiber, in the form of wholegrain, fruit, and veg, are also crucial to the digestive process and the health of your dog’s digestive tract.
Most food allergies in Chihuahuas manifest between the ages of 6 to 24 months. Common food allergens include yeast, rice, corn, soy, egg, and rabbit.
Additionally, avoid any dog foods with BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, TBHQ, MSG, artificial dyes, and trans-fats. These additives, preservatives, and fillers can trigger allergies in your pet. Finally, do not under any circumstances, give your dog foods like coffee, chocolate, grapes, raisins, gum, and unbaked dough. These foods are harmful to your dog and could even kill them.
Weight Management Diet
Chihuahua can become overweight very quickly. Watch the fat and carb content of your dog’s food to avoid experiencing this problem. As much as these dogs don’t need much exercise, make sure to feed your dog fat and carb-controlled foods, and take regular short walks with your dog to keep their weight balanced.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Much Should I Feed My Chihuahua Puppy?
Chihuahua puppies need all the help they can get as newborns. Pups that have been weaned and are less than 12 months old need around 50 calories per pound of body weight.
Any dietary changes should be introduced carefully and slowly as this dog breed is one of the most sensitive breeds out there. Puppies under three months should be fed 4 to 6 times a day, while those over three months can feed 3 to 4 times a day.
Reduce your dog’s meals to 2 to 3 times a day from 6-12 months of age.
How Much Should I Feed an Adult Chihuahua Dog?
Adult Chis need about 35 to 40 calories per pound of body weight.
Dogs that range in weight from 4 to 10 pounds will eat ½ to 1 1/3 cups per day, spread over 2 to 3 times a day. Regular meals throughout set feeding times will help prevent gas and bloating in your small dog.
Be mindful that these recommendations are approximate and will depend on your dog’s activity level. Diet requirements also depend on the size, health conditions, age, and even weather as dogs tend to eat more in the winter. Typical Chihuahuas need a maximum of 400 calories a day, and very few Chis will consume over 2 cups of food per day.
When Should Chihuahuas Switch from Puppy Food to Dog Food?
Small breeds, of which Chihuahuas are a part, tend to mature at 9-12 months. Typically, your Chi will weigh about 5 pounds at maturity. It’s a good idea to switch from puppy food to adult dog food at this stage to meet the exact nutritional needs of your dog.
What Foods Should You Avoid Giving a Chihuahua?
Avoid giving your small dog sugarless gum, chocolate, vanilla, grapes, juice, or unbaked bread and cookie dough. These food items can cause a myriad of problems for your dog. Some like chocolate, which contains theobromine, can kill your dog.
When getting your dog food, try to avoid foods that contain wheat, soy, or corn, as these ingredients can trigger allergies. Also, keep away from dog foods that use artificial flavor enhancers, animal by-products, and filler ingredients such as cellulose, oat hulls, and peanut hulls.
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