The quintessential “purse dog,” the Chihuahua is a toy breed known for its energy and personality. These little dogs are ideal for apartment life, and you can take them anywhere. In addition to patient training, Chihuahuas require a balanced diet to stay at their best. Learn about their nutritional needs and our picks for the best dog food for Chihuahuas to meet those needs.
The Basics of Canine Nutrition
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has determined dogs’ minimal requirements for essential nutrients. AAFCO recommendations state a minimum of 22% protein for canine growth and reproduction (puppies and lactating females) and an 18% minimum for adult dogs. For fat, these numbers are 8% and 5%, respectively.
Protein in food for Chihuahuas fuels their growth and development in puppyhood and supports lean muscle mass in adulthood. Fat provides a concentrated source of calories for your Chihuahua throughout their lives to maintain a healthy metabolism and optimal body condition.
To meet these requirements, feed your Chihuahua high-quality dog food made with natural, whole-food sources of these nutrients. Animal protein like meat or poultry should focus on higher than average fat and restricted carbohydrate content.
Remember that AAFCO standards encourage commercial pet food products to adhere to minimum nutritional requirements. You’ll probably agree, however, that dog food for your Chihuahua should have more than the bare minimum. Checking for an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy on the label is an excellent way to weed out lousy dog foods. Still, the statement itself isn’t a guarantee of quality.
It’s your job as a dog owner to understand the truth about dog food. Take the AAFCO statement with a grain of salt and do the work to make sure the food you’re considering is of high quality and will do more than meet your dog’s minimum nutritional needs.
Your Chihuahua’s Specific Needs
All dogs have the exact minimum requirements for fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals. That being said, additional nutritional considerations exist for dogs of specific sizes and life stages.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard for the Chihuahua states a maximum weight of 6 pounds. As you might imagine, a dog that small can’t eat a lot of food at once. While this may be true, Chihuahuas need to consume more calories per pound of body weight than a giant dog.
The average dog needs about 30 calories per pound of body weight. Using a basic formula to calculate canine energy requirements, a 6-pound dog needs a minimum of 150 calories. However, if you factor in the average activity level for a neutered adult dog, the estimated daily energy requirement is closer to 240 calories; this averages to 40 calories per pound of body weight.
Why is a Chihuahua’s energy requirement higher than the average dog’s?
Toys and small breeds have much faster metabolisms, and a Chihuahua can burn through a meal in hours. Without adequate calorie intake, toy breeds like the Chihuahua can develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This condition is hazardous for puppies and, without quick intervention, can lead to weakness, lethargy, seizures, and even death.
So, what does all of this mean when looking for the best dog food for your Chihuahua?
Chihuahuas need to be fed more often than larger dogs. Choosing a toy-breed formula appropriate for your dog’s age is the best way to ensure his needs are met.
What About Puppies and Senior Dogs?
As puppies, protein is essential to support healthy growth and development. In Chihuahua puppies, good fat and calorie intake are also necessary to prevent hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is most common in Chihuahuas under five months old. At this age, they have high brain mass per body weight, which means they need more calories to maintain healthy brain function. Chihuahua puppies also have trouble regulating their body temperature. So a calorie-dense diet is recommended with frequent feedings.
As an adult, your Chihuahua still needs plenty of protein and calories. The older he gets, however, the more you need to be concerned about obesity. Monitor his body condition and make adjustments as needed.
Chihuahuas enter seniority between 10 and 12 years of age. In this life stage, they are prone to dental health issues and bone and joint problems. Switching to a softer canned food is a good idea. Choose a senior-specific toy or small breed recipe to ensure your Chihuahua gets enough glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy bones and joints.
What Should You Look For?
When shopping for Chihuahua dog food, check the label to check for guaranteed minimums of protein and fat. You can find this information in the guaranteed analysis and look for an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement to show the food is complete and balanced.
Next, check the ingredients list. Here are some things to look for:
- A high-quality source of animal protein as the first ingredient (meat, poultry, or fish)
- Two sources of protein within the first three ingredients
- Higher than average fat content (at least 15% but ideally 18% to 22%)
- Only digestible carbohydrates (like whole grains and low-starch veggies)
- Limited in synthetic supplements (whole foods like veggies are a better source)
- No artificial additives like synthetic dyes, flavorings, or preservatives
Remember as well that the calorie content of dog food varies, and check the number of calories per cup compared to the feeding recommendations. This way, you can ensure you won’t need to feed your Chihuahua an unreasonable volume of food to meet his daily energy requirements. If you choose to provide dry food, check for small kibble size.
The Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas
Choosing the right dog food can be challenging, with so many options. We’ve done our best to help you through the process. Here are our recommendations for the best dog food for Chihuahuas.
Made with a trio of premium proteins and a nutrient-rich blend of whole foods, this toy breed recipe delivers highly digestible nutrition for your Chihuahua.
This dog food recipe is made with 85% high-quality animal ingredients. And more than meets your Chihuahua puppy’s requirements for protein, fat, and calories to sustain healthy growth and development.
Using fresh, regional ingredients, this dog food delivers highly digestible nutrition explicitly formulated for the unique needs of growing puppies like your Chihuahua.
Formulated to deliver complete and balanced nutrition in all life stages, this canned dog food recipe contains more than enough protein and fat to meet your Chihuahua’s unique nutritional requirements.
This dog food recipe is formulated with increased levels of high-quality protein. This is to support your Chihuahua’s lean muscle development. It is also a calorie-dense with plenty of nutritious carbs for energy.
This dog food recipe contains three high-quality animal ingredients at the top of the list to keep your Chihuahua at its best. Plus, it’s packed with flavor, not to mention wholesome, natural sources of crucial nutrients.
This dog food recipe is formulated specifically for small breeds, including Chihuahuas. It contains wholesome fruits and vegetables to balance the protein and fat content for complete and balanced nutrition.
Nulo Small-Breed Grain-Free Dog Food
Formulated specifically for small dog breeds, this grain-free salmon recipe is high in protein and low in carbs.
Rich in moisture and flavor, with real meat, including lamb, chicken liver, and whitefish, this toy and small-breed formula is high in protein. It’s also supplemented with superfoods to provide plenty of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to make a well-rounded food for Chihuahuas.
Solid Gold Mighty Mini Toy and Small Breed Dog Food Trays
This wet dog food for toy and small breeds features lamb, sweet potatoes, and cranberries in gravy, so it’s practically bursting with rich flavor.
Though not formulated for small breeds, this old recipe canned food works well for Chihuahuas. It contains plenty of animal protein and energy to support balanced nutrition as they age.
Halo Holistic Chicken Recipe Senior Canned Food
This old dog formula provides ample protein and energy to meet your older Chihuahua’s dietary needs.
This dry food formula for Chihuahuas contains digestible, high-quality ingredients,
including fresh chicken and whole grains. It is explicitly designed with a senior dog’s requirements in mind.
Nutro Natural Choice Small-Breed Senior Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe
Packed with protein and supplemented with antioxidants for immune support, this recipe helps protect your Chihuahua’s health throughout his senior years.
You can enjoy your Chihuahua’s company for 15 years or more with proper care. Adjusting your Chihuahua’s diet throughout their life is essential for keeping them healthy. And this is not complicate. Take what you’ve learned to choose the best dog food for your Chihuahua.