‘How much should a Chihuahua eat a day?’
This is among the many questions Chihuahua parents might face at some point and an important one.
Answers to ‘how often’ and ‘how much’ a Chihuahua should eat daily are crucial to maintaining its health and well-being.
The Chihuahua dog breed is small in size – so it does not need too much food. However, one does need to eat small but frequent meals throughout the day to prevent hypoglycemia or blood-sugar drop.
Based on all these considerations, I will tell you exactly how much a Chihuahua should eat daily.
How Much Should a Chihuahua Eat a Day?
The Chihuahua is a toy breed that weighs about 6 to 7 lb.
To answer the question, how much should a Chihuahua eat a day, consider your pet’s weight. You can use the following guidelines to feed your pet:
- If your Chihuahua weighs about 4 lb – provide it 1/3rd cup of dog food per day
- If your Chihuahua weighs up to 7 lb, provide ½ a cup of dog food daily.
Remember, over-feeding your Chihuahua can lead to many health issues, especially diabetes. So, prevent obesity, and you might also increase your Chihuahua’s lifespan.
How Much Should a Chihuahua Eat a Day Based on its Age?
The above feeding guidelines are for an adult Chihuahua having normal activity levels.
You will have to vary this quantity and feeding schedule slightly based on your Chi’s age.
A young Chihuahua puppy will have different calorie needs than a senior Chihuahua. Puppies require small but frequent meals to support their energy requirements and rapid metabolism.
On the other hand, an older Chihuahua that spends most of its time sleeping will not need too much food. Similarly, an adult, healthy Chihuahua will mostly need a maintenance diet.
Chihuahua Puppy Feeding Schedule
A Chihuahua puppy will only need its dam’s (mother’s) milk for up to 3 to 4 weeks. This is the time your Chihuahua pup needs to be with its littermates. After four weeks, your breeder might start giving it soaked kibble or wet food.
Once you bring your Chihuahua pup home (after it is about eight weeks old), follow the same feeding routine and schedule that your breeder has been following. You can also feed it the same dog food, so your puppy has no issues adjusting to it.
After ten weeks, your Chihuahua puppy should eat high-quality dog food 3 to 4 times a day or as your breeder or vet recommended.
Adult Chihuahua Feeding Schedule
A Chihuahua can be considered an adult once it has reached about 90% of its total body weight in adulthood.
This small dog breed matures rapidly, so your Chihuahua puppy can be considered an adult at about nine months of age. If you have a female Chi, she might even come in heat around this time.
If you have been feeding 3-4 meals to your Chihuahua puppy, you may want to start tapering it down to 2-3 small meals.
By adulthood, your Chi should eat just 1-2 meals per day as suggested by your vet.
Other Factors to Consider When Deciding How Much Should a Chihuahua Eat a Day
So far we have only considered general feeding guidelines based on a Chihuahua’s age.
However, three other important factors play a role in a Chihuahua’s feeding schedule. These are:
1. Your pet’s activity levels
Just like a human athlete or sportsman will have to eat protein-rich meals several times a day, an active Chihuahua will need high-quality meals 2-3 times a day. On the other hand, a less active lap dog will need meals lower in fat content.
A Chihuahua puppy needs small-though-frequent meals for the same reason. While it develops and grows, it is expending energy running, playing, training, and exploring its world.
Conversely, a senior Chihuahua will not need too much food, but it would still need high-quality, immunity-boosting foods at least once a day.
An adult dog will mainly need maintenance food to help maintain its body weight at optimum levels.
2. Its overall health
When deciding how much a Chihuahua should eat a day, always discuss it with your vet first, especially if your Chi has any health conditions.
For example, if your dog has diabetes, then it will need small-though-frequent meals to prevent dangerous blood-sugar level drops.
Similarly, your pet might need a renal diet for kidney disease. Some Chihuahuas also require special prescription diets for liver issues, thyroid imbalance, etc.
3. Whether it is spayed/neutered
If you have recently had your dog fixed, then its body goes through many hormonal changes. Some selected dogs become sedentary after being neutered or spayed.
As a result, they need less food and are prone to weight gain. Experts recommend reducing a dog’s food intake by nearly 30% after spaying or neutering. So please discuss with your vet and tweak your dog’s diet accordingly.
What is the Ideal Feeding Schedule for a Chihuahua?
Always consult your vet before deciding on a feeding schedule for your smaller dog. S/he can also guide you regarding the serving sizes by taking your dog’s weight, and calorie needs into account.
Most vets recommend feeding an adult Chihuahua two times a day. You can provide your Chi its breakfast around 8 am or at the same time you have breakfast. The next meal can be in the evening, around 5 pm.
If your pet has diabetes, you can divide its daily food intake into 3-4 smaller meals. Thus, if your vet/dog food brand recommends feeding ½ a cup of dog food, divide this into 1/8th cup and feed four times a day.
In the case of a Chi pup, feed 3-4 meals as recommended by the breeder or the vet. Very active Chihuahua puppies may require four meals a day. You can provide the first meal of the day around 8 am, followed by a lunch-time meal at 12 noon and a final meal around 5 pm.
For busy pet parents
If your schedule requires leaving your Chi home alone for over 8 hours, you can consider feeding your adult dog once a day.
For puppies, you could leave puppy food outside for it. However, that can lead to free feeding, which is responsible for obesity in dogs.
If needed, hire a pet-sitter to feed your Chihuahua pup at the scheduled time. Alternatively, invest in automatic dog feeders which dispense meals at pre-programmed times. Many feeders have the facility to keep wet food fresh for a few hours.
How Many Calories Does a Chihuahua Need Every Day?
Most dogs have to eat between 20-30 calories per pound of their body weight.
If your adult Chihuahua weighs six lb., it must consume between 120 and 180 calories daily. (This is for dogs that are usually active and overall healthy).
Remember to reduce your pet’s calorie intake if it is recently neutered or spayed. Also, if your older Chihuahua does not go out often, you may want to reduce its calorie intake by at least 20%.
If needed, transition to senior dog food so your old dog can maintain its weight in its golden years.
Check out our comprehensive guide on How Many Calories Should a Chihuahua Eat Every Day for calculating your pet’s exact calorie needs.
How To Know if You’re Overfeeding or Underfeeding Your Chihuahua?
Here are the signs that indicate you may be over-feeding your Chihuahua:
Signs you may be over-feeding your Chi
1. It looks overweight
An over-fed Chi won’t have a healthy weight. It will quickly pack on the pounds, and you won’t be able to see or feel your dog’s ribs. Its abdomen could be distended.
2. Bowel issues and flatulence
When you over-feed your pet, it could experience stool changes. Sometimes, its stools may be soft, and at times, they may be dry and hard. Your pet could also suffer from gas and flatulence.
3. Joint issues
Your small dog with extra weight could start suffering from joint aches and pains. Even a few pounds of excess body fat can result in sluggish movements. Obesity can also lead to many other health problems.
Excess body weight in a dog can also become a vicious cycle. When you over-feed your Chi, it becomes lethargic and moves less, which leads to obesity which, in turn, leads to sluggish and slow movements. This can spiral out of control.
Now let us look at some signs you may be under-feeding your pet:
Signs you may be under-feeding your Chi
1. Malnourished dog
One of the main signs of under-feeding is a mal-nourished dog. Your Chi might have a dull, lackluster coat. Its ribs may be visible. It could suffer from skin issues.
2. It might have health problems and deficiencies
One of the significant signs that your dog needs more food is that it will beg for food. Conversely, it may have deficiencies that could result in a lack of appetite. This can lead to a sick dog with many health problems, dental issues, etc.
3. Low energy levels
An underfed Chi, like an over-fed one, could also be stagnant. It could suffer from anemia and might spend all its time sleeping, begging for food, etc. It might also vomit bile.
Why is my Chihuahua Hungry All The Time?
If your Chihuahua is hungry all the time, it could be due to the following reasons:
1. Health issues
Diabetes, Inflammatory bowel disorders and certain cancers can lead to increased appetite in dogs. Hormonal issues and thyroid-related conditions could also lead to a starving dog.
Low-quality dog food that does not fulfill all of your Chi’s requirements can also cause extreme hunger pangs. Some older dogs also get extremely hungry because their intestine cannot absorb the nutrients in food.
3. Intestinal parasites
Overeating could be due to worms or internal parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, etc. Regular de-worming can prevent this.
FAQs on How Much Should a Chihuahua Eat a Day?
1. Is it cruel to feed a Chi once a day?
No. It isn’t cruel, especially if you are doing it to maintain your Chi’s optimum weight. If your vet recommends feeding your dog once a day, it is for your pet’s well-being.
2. Should I walk my Chi before or after feeding?
Never walk your pet immediately after feeding; do not feed your pet right after waking. Make sure to leave at least 30 minutes between the two activities. Exercising your Chi immediately after feeding could cause bloat in dogs.
3. Do Chihuahuas over-eat?
Yes, it is possible that a Chi won’t stop eating even once it is complete. That is why you must monitor its daily food intake and use the exact measurements when scooping out its food in the bowl. Never free-feed your dog, as that could lead to obesity.
4. How long can a Chihuahua go without eating?
Dogs can stay hungry longer than we humans think they can. So you need not worry if your Chi skips a meal or two. However, if your dog is prone to hypoglycemia, it could be a cause of concern if it does not eat. Call your vet if that is the case and your pet does not eat for more than 2 days.
5. What human food can a Chi eat safely?
A Chihuahua can safely eat xylitol-free peanut butter, chicken, sweet potato, carrots, pumpkins, brown rice, and apples without the seeds. You can make homemade dog food with meat, rice, and vegetables.
Conclusion – How Much Should a Chihuahua Eat a Day?
An adult Chihuahua with everyday activity needs between 1/3rd and ½ cup of pet food daily.
Chihuahua puppies need more healthy meals for optimum growth and development. You might want to feed your little dog 3-4 small meals. Once your Chi is an adult, provide it 1-2 meals daily.
Please discuss your Chihuahua’s feeding schedule, and calorie needs with your vet to make sure it receives optimum nutrition.