If you’ve been reading my posts regularly, you have probably noticed that I have a bias towards large dogs. I’m not going to apologize for that. I do try to keep some sort of balance, but honestly, if all you want to read about is toy poodles or Yorkies or Bichons, then you’ll probably feel a lot more at home at FooFooDogs.com.
Okay, that’s not a real site. I made it up. This is my blog, and I can make stuff up if I want.
In the interest of taking a balanced approach, though, I think it’s time to talk about something related to one of the tiniest breeds – the Chihuahua. Note, please, that I did not say “the Teacup Chihuahua,” because that is not a breed; it’s an abomination. For more information, see Why You Should Walk Away from Teacup Dogs.
I like Chihuahuas, though – the normal-size, properly bred ones. This is probably because they have no idea that they’re little. I’ve never yet met a Chihuahua that didn’t think he was a Rottweiler.
It seems like the last little while at the dog park, there has been a real rush on “Go Ask Ash.” I’ve never set myself up to be the final authority on all matters dog-related, but I guess I’ve picked up enough general knowledge that people gravitate towards me. I’m not sure how I feel about that – on the one hand, it’s kind of gratifying that people seem to think I know what I’m talking about, but on the other hand, it’s a big responsibility. What if I get it wrong?
I try not to get it wrong, though, and that’s why I spend a lot of time researching topics related to dogs. I never take one source on faith. I always cross-reference and try to come up with the answers that make the most sense. With all the misinformation out there on the Internet, to do otherwise would be pretty irresponsible.
So, when I saw Al down at the dog park with his new Saint Bernard, Otis, talking to a woman with a Chihuahua and nodding toward me, I figured this was another “Go Ask Ash” moment, and sure enough, I was right. She wanted to know what the recommended foods were for a Chihuahua. I told her I’d get back to her on that, and then I came home and started researching.
It seems as though everyone has an opinion when it comes to recommended foods for Chihuahuas. The thing is, not all small dogs have the incredible energy level of a Chihuahua, so the recommended food for one small breed might not be right for these little powerhouses. Some small breed foods are great for Chihuahuas, but others might not give the necessary nutrition to keep these high-energy dogs in good shape.
Generally speaking, Chihuahuas need a high-calorie dog food with lots of protein, and the requirements can vary a good deal depending on the age of the dog. For instance, a very active young Chihuahua will probably need to consume at least 320 calories in any given day. For an older Chihuahua, the calorie intake could be about half that. There will be a lot of variation across various ages, sizes and activity levels.
Every Chihuahua is different, but one thing that is known is that because Chihuahuas are so active, they will typically burn a lot more calories per body weight than larger dogs. Even when a Chihuahua is not all that active, he will probably burn calories at an amazing three times the rate per pound when compared with a larger breed of dog.
So, as a rule of thumb, keep your Chihuahua’s small stomach size in mind. For most dogs, it is recommended that you feed two meals a day (unless you free feed, as I do). With Chihuahuas, it’s actually better to feed several small meals throughout the day, and you should keep in mind that your Chihuahua will usually require more calories than another small breed of equivalent size. What this boils down to is usually about 250 calories each day for a 5-pound Chihuahua, or 40-50 calories per pound of body weight.
Chihuahuas are also insane protein-burners. So, take a look at the nutritional information on your bag of dog food. My Boxers do very nicely on 20-21% protein, which is what you’ll find in most store brands. Chihuahuas, on the other hand, need about 25%. If you have an older Chihuahua, it might be even more than that.
What this means is that you are not going to be able to get by with store brands; they are not recommended foods for your Chihuahua. The trouble with really high protein dog foods is that they’re often not that palatable, so you might have to do a bit of experimenting before you find something that your Chihuahua loves and that will provide him with the proper amount of protein.
The way in which you feed your Chihuahua will change a bit over the course of his lifetime. Chihuahua puppies should always be free fed; they will not eat more than they need, and you will be spared the complexity of trying to devise a proper feeding schedule, at least for a while.
Once your Chihuahua reaches the age of six months, you can begin feeding on a schedule if you like. Three meals a day is ideal. Then, once he is a year old, you can feed in the morning and again in the evening.
When looking at recommended dog foods for your Chihuahua, you should always be focused on the best possible nutrition. If he lacks the right nutrition in his early years, he could develop health problems as he ages. If you’re not feeding the right food, you will probably notice certain side effects – his coat could become dull, or he might not put weight on as quickly as he should. He might also become prone to various short-term and long-term illnesses.
So, there are certain things that you should look for in recommended foods for your Chihuahua. The first, as previously stated, is a high level of protein, and it should come from meat ingredients – not byproducts. So again, look at the ingredient list on the dog food bag. You want to see meat as the main ingredient.
Complex carbs are also very important for Chihuahuas, so other ingredients that you should look for are brown rice and sweet potatoes. Corn should not be a primary ingredient in your Chihuahua’s food.
Most humans try to avoid consuming a lot of fat, but fat is important in any recommended dog food for your Chihuahua. It helps to keep his coat healthy.
Most of us think of dogs as being all too willing to eat anything that is placed in front of them, whether it is recommended food or not. Chihuahuas, however, are less inclined to just gobble anything. You have to be the adult in this relationship, though. If your dog does not want to eat recommended dog food for Chihuahuas, you may have to take the approach that your parents may have taken with you: “You’ll eat what’s put in front of you, and you’ll like it!”
There is always the temptation to give your dog what he wants, on the theory that he has to eat something, but this is just a quick fix, and it’s not going to get your dog the nutrition he needs. If he’s actually intolerant to the food you’re giving him, though (i.e. he’s vomiting it up), then you should consult with your veterinarian in order to find a more suitable food that is recommended for your Chihuahua.
Many toy breeds are prone to dental issues, and Chihuahuas are no exception. Accordingly, Chihuahuas should always be fed dry dog food. Sure, he loves the goopy stuff, but the goopy stuff is not among the recommended foods for your Chihuahua. Dry food actually helps to clean your dog’s teeth while he eats, so in order to prevent tooth decay, always go with the dry, brush your dog’s teeth, and provide items for him to chew.
Chihuahuas are also prone to obesity, so regular feeding using a recommended dog food for Chihuahuas is important. Diabetes is also a common condition in aging Chihuahuas.
Now, let’s move onto the recommended foods for your Chihuahua.
Of all the recommended dog foods for your Chihuahua, I believe that Orijen Adult Dry Dog Food is the best. This is because it is super-high in protein, and it all comes from natural sources like eggs, wild-caught fish and free-range chicken. This food is also processed daily, so it’s not full of preservatives. Other nutrients come from quality vegetables and fruits. Is it expensive? Oh, you bet – up to $10 per pound depending on where you buy it. But is your little guy worth it? I think so!
This small breed dog food is a little less pricey, usually running around $5 per pound, but it definitely has the essentials. Most of the calories in Natural Choice Wholesome Essentials Small Breed come from chicken, oats and brown rice. It’s not all that strong on vegetables and fruits, though, but you can always make up for that by tossing your dog some cooked carrots or a banana from time to time.
If you want to feed your dog high-quality ingredients, but you don’t have the money to shell out for Orijen, you could do a lot worse than this recommended dog food for Chihuahuas.
Wellness Healthy Weight for Toy Breeds comes in at the low end of the price scale – about $2 per pound depending on where you buy it. It boasts an impressive ingredient list, consisting of turkey, chicken, flax seed, barley, peas, brown rice, oatmeal and more. It’s also rich in desirable fats that are found in recommended foods for your Chihuahua. This dog food contains no soy, corn, wheat or animal byproducts, so if your Chihuahua suffers from dietary allergies, then this is an ideal food.
Although many dogs thrive on generic dog food, your Chihuahua will not. I hesitate to single out specific brands, but even if you want to go with something more expensive than the store brand dog food, there are respected name brands out there that simply won’t give your Chihuahua the level of nutrition that he needs.
Chihuahuas have very specific nutritional needs because they are very, very high-energy dogs. So a brand name dog food that might be perfectly adequate for another breed may not make the list of recommended foods for Chihuahuas at all. If you want to make sure that your tiny friend enjoys good health and a long life, be vigilant about what you choose to feed him.