What’s the Best Dog Food for a Chihuahua?
Chihuahuas are one of the most popular breeds of small dog and are in fact the tiniest of all breeds. They can weigh as little as 4lbs, although they can be as heavy as 20lbs if they are overweight. When they are puppies they can be so tiny they are often called teacup Chihuahuas, because they are small enough to fit in a teacup! Chihuahuas as a breed have a tendency to become hypoglycaemic and can be susceptible to dental issues, so these factors need to be taken into account when choosing a good dog food.
Although they are very small and often even carried in a purse by their owners, some Chihuahuas have a healthy appetite and can become overweight. It is important to watch that a pet Chihuahua doesn’t eat too much and gets daily exercise, even though this breed isn’t highly active and doesn’t require a huge amount of exercise. Some Chihuahuas can be picky about eating, so it is important for owners to find a dog food brand that their dog enjoys and thrives on. Owners can try feeding either dry or canned dog food, of a mix of a wet stew and kibble, to find which recipes their Chihuahua prefers.
The recommended calorie intake for a Chihuahua depends to a certain extent on an individual dog’s lifestyle and life stage. For instance, a 10lb adult Chihuahua that gets regular exercise every day needs around 404 calories a day. A sedentary Chihuahua that stays at home all day or is carried in a purse will probably need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Chihuahua puppies and young dogs that are still growing and very active will expend more energy and typically need more calories than older, spayed or neutered dogs.
All dogs need a protein rich diet of at least 18% protein for adult dogs and 22% protein for puppies (figures from the Association of American Feed Control Officers, AAFCO). In reality most decent dog foods have far higher protein contents than these minimum recommendations. Fat is also important. At least 5% of an adult dog’s diet and 8% of a puppy’s diet should be fat, to provide energy. In fact most good canned and dry dog food contains more fat than this, as fat is used to make the food taste nicer to dogs.
Chihuahuas, like many other Toy breeds, can experience symptoms of low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia. Puppies and very skinny dogs are most prone to this. Signs of low blood sugar levels can be lethargy or lack of energy, an uneven gait, an unfocused gaze, fainting and sometimes even seizures. To help avoid these issues, the Chihuahua Club of America suggests puppies should eat a puppy food rather than a food aimed at adult dogs and that they should be fed frequently, four or five times a day. Dry kibble can also be fed as a snack at any time a puppy shows signs of hunger, to prevent blood sugar levels dropping. Adult Chihuahuas can move on to an adult dog food and switch to eating two meals a day.
Small breeds such as Chihuahuas have small stomachs so they are physically unable to eat much food in one go, but they do use more energy per pound of their body weight than large breeds. Therefore they require a more calorie and nutrient rich food than bigger dogs, which is why many owners prefer to buy a top dog food that is specially formulated for Chihuahuas or small breeds, such as Royal Canin Chihuahua dog food.
Because Chihuahuas need lots of protein in their diet, owners should look for a good quality dog food that lists a meat protein as the number one ingredient. Whole meat, such as beef, lamb, chicken or fish, is a good ingredient as it hasn’t been processed, although its weight after cooking is a lot less as the cooking process causes it to lose water. Meat meals offer a more concentrated source of protein and are used by many premium dog food companies, but some owners prefer foods made with natural, unprocessed meat. Chihuahua owners should also look for quality fats on the ingredients list, from recognized sources such as chicken fat and fish oil.