How to Properly Feed Your Chihuahua
Many owners underestimate the importance of a balanced diet for their Chihuahua. Don’t let that be the case for your pup! If you want your Chi to grow up healthy and happy, then you need to properly feed it. We’re here to help you achieve the perfect diet for your Chi’s needs.
How often should you feed your Chihuahua?
Free feeding vs Meal feeding?
Both free and meal feeding have their own sets of pros and cons. Depending on your pup’s age, energy levels, health issues, as well as your own personal preferences. - both of these can be completely viable options for feeding intervals. Let’s discuss the differences and see which one works best for your Chi!
Free feeding may be your best option if you can’t commit to a feeding schedule for various personal reasons. Additionally, dogs won’t feel pressured to eat if they are not hungry yet. Free feeding may also help with food aggression, as the Chi knows there is always food around.
However, here’s the biggest con when it comes to free feeding and the biggest reason why we don’t recommend it for Chihuahuas: your Chi may eat even when it’s not hungry, which can lead to obesity (which is, unfortunately, all too common with this breed). Apart from that, you may struggle with training a dog that’s used to having food lying around, as it won’t be as food-motivated.
On the other hand, you can choose to meal feed your Chi. Meal feeding means that you feed your dog at set times each day. The biggest obstacle you may encounter when feeding your Chihuahua at set intervals is fitting it into your personal schedule. Additionally, if you’re not careful, you may accidentally over-or-underfeed your pup.
Nevertheless, meal feeding is the best option for your Chihuahua for multiple reasons. For one, you control your pup’s daily calorie intake, which reduces the chance of obesity. Additionally, a Chi’s appetite is a good indicator of its overall health – you can easily notice if your pooch is eating less than usual. Finally, your Chi will remain food-motivated and it will be easier to train with treats and snacks as rewards.
How much should you feed your Chihuahua?
Now that we’ve discussed how often you should feed your Chi, let’s see HOW MUCH you need to feed it. There are no set rules when it comes to the amount of food your Chi needs to eat on a daily basis, as it depends on multiple factors (such as age, activity level, the overall health of the pup, etc.).
However, there are some general guidelines you should follow to keep your Chi healthy and well-fed. Keep in mind that this is just a guideline you may need to change based on your dog’s needs. Generally speaking, a Chihuahua puppy needs around 50 calories per lb of body weight, while an adult needs 35-40 calories.
Given that the actual amount of calories consumed by your very small pup is quite low, the food needs to be very high-quality in order to provide the needed nutrition.
How important is the quality of your Chi's food?
We can’t stress enough how important your pup’s food quality is. In terms of overall health, a balanced and nutritious diet is linked to a reduced risk of multiple diseases in Chihuahuas, such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
Additionally, not only does high-quality food reduce the risk of diseases, but it also improves your Chi’s immune system, muscle maintenance, and overall energy levels. The benefits of a healthy Chi that’s being fed with good food are obvious: they have a beautiful coat, they are highly energetic, and they have zero skin issues.
Home-made vs Store-bought Chihuahua food? Which one is better?
Whether it's better to feed your Chi bought or home-made food depends on many factors. There are pros and cons to both. Let’s see what benefits you and your Chi reap from either home cooking or store-bought foods.
Home Cooking for Your Chi
There are quite a few benefits to home cooking. Namely, you always know what your Chi eats, what the ingredients are, and the quality of the pup’s meal. Home-cooking is especially beneficial for Chihuahuas who need specific diets due to various reasons (such as allergies or health issues). Additionally, home-cooking tends to be cheaper than buying commercial dog food.
On the other hand, home-cooking for your Chi can be time-consuming and inconvenient, depending on your personal schedule. Additionally, if you don’t do your research, you may not fit everything your Chihuahua needs on a daily basis in a meal.
Buying Food for Your Chi
The issue with fitting your Chi’s daily calorie and nutritional goals in a meal is non-existent with a good dog food brand. High-quality brands take into account a Chihuahua’s needs and make their food based on that. In addition, feeding your Chi with store-bought foods is highly convenient and time-efficient.
However, it’s very important that you buy Chihuahua food from trusty brands in order for your Chi to have a healthy meal. Unfortunately, many brands that use natural, high-quality ingredients tend to offer more expensive choices, making the option of commercial dog food more costly.
What should you avoid when shopping your Chi's food?
As we’ve discussed the importance of a healthy meal for your Chi, you may wonder how to differentiate between low-quality and high-quality food. It’s absolutely crucial to read the ingredient list before introducing new food to your Chihuahua. Here are some things you need to watch out for:
By-products are found in dog food when they are not fit for human consumption, such as beaks, lungs, fatty tissue, hooves, etc.
Fillers have zero nutritional value and leave your Chi with nutritional deficiencies. They tend to be hard to identify, as they come in many forms, such as cellulose, corn bran, peanut hulls, rice hulls, etc. If your dog is nutrient deficient, they may exhibit behavioral issues, such as eating feces or eating grass. If you see this behavior in your Chi, the most common cause is the pooch’s diet.
- Artificial additives.
Low-quality food is packed with artificial additives, such as preservatives, chemical coloring, and flavoring. The issues Chi’s have with artificial additives are plenty, from gastrointestinal issues to an increased risk of organ damage and cancer.
- Generic “meat”
Stay clear from foods that are labeled as “animal meat”, as it can be from any animal at all, including roadkill. Always shop from brands that are very clear with the ingredients they use and don’t mention these generic terms.
On the other hand, high-quality food has no fillers, no artificial additives, and has a proper ratio of all the necessary macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs). If the food has extras such as probiotics, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids, even better.
Our Top Picks for the Best Chihuahua Food Brands:
All that we’ve discussed so far is a lot of information to retain, isn’t it? In order to help you out with your choice, we’ve listed our top picks for wet & dry Chihuahua food, based on the pooch’s age.
Best for Puppies:
While Chihuahua puppies are growing, they require more frequent meals and specific formulas than their older counterparts. As a result, it’s very important to know exactly what you’re feeding your pup from a very early age. Here are our favorite puppy Chihuahua foods:
As puppies are too small to eat dry food, our personal favorite when it comes to canned puppy formula is the Natural Balance Whole Body Health Puppy Formula. It’s rich with vitamins and comes from great protein sources, such as duck and chicken. Choose from a variety of tastes and see which your pup likes the most!
Once your puppy is big enough to eat dry foods, consider switching to our favorite Royal Canin Chihuahua Puppy Dry Dog Food. As the name suggests, the food is specifically made for Chihuahuas tiny jaws, making it easy for the pup to eat it.
Best for Adults:
Never feed a Chihuahua puppy food, as it tends to have more calories, which can lead your Chihuahua to obesity. Generally, your Chi should switch to an adult diet at around 8 months. However, don’t make instead of abruptly switching the diet your pup is used to, do so gradually by mixing both puppy and adult food for a few weeks.
The Royal Canin Adult Dry Food has everything your Chihuahua needs! With plenty of protein and fiber, as well as omega 3 fatty acids, it’s the perfect addition to your Chi’s diet.
If your Chi prefers wet food, look no further than the Royal Canin Adult Beauty! It has extra B vitamins and amino acids to ensure your pup has healthy and shiny skin! Additionally, this is a great choice for picky Chis, as it's one of the tastiest you can find on the market!
Best for Seniors:
Once your Chi is 8+ years old, it may be a good idea to switch them to a senior diet. However, make sure to check with your vet first, even if your Chi doesn’t exhibit any health issues due to their age. If your vet gives you the green light, it’s time to check out the best dog food for senior Chihuahuas:
The Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ is perfect if your Chi is suffering from dental issues. Additionally, it’s very nutrient-dense, making it easier to maintain steady blood glucose levels and prevent hypoglycemia.
This formula is perfect if your pup is suffering from joint pain, as many senior Chihuahuas do. A specific formula like this may aid your Chi in managing the discomfort linked to osteoarthritis. However, always be careful when introducing your pup to diet food, and make sure to consult with your vet beforehand.
Should you feed your Chihuahua wet or dry food?
While Chihuahuas generally prefer wet food, it’s actually much better to feed your Chi dry kibble. As Chihuahuas tend to have dental issues, dry kibble is great for maintaining dental hygiene and keeping the Chi’s teeth healthy.
As a result, if you only feed your Chi wet food (which we do not recommend), make sure to take its oral hygiene to the next level. Otherwise, consider mixing dry kibble with the wet food, in order to make a nice, healthy meal that your Chihuahua will love.
The Importance of a Healthy Diet
To conclude, a healthy, balanced diet for your Chi is absolutely crucial in maintaining a healthy, happy dog! Whether it comes to improved general health, physical appearance, or energy-levels, your Chihuahua will highly benefit from a proper meal.
We’ve summed up the most important factors you need to consider when feeding your Chi! However, you know your pup the best. Remember that it may take a while before you find the perfect diet for your Chi. Just be patient, follow our guidelines and you will have your Chihuahua eating everything up in no time!