One of the smallest breeds in the dog world, the Chihuahua also became one of the most popular breeds over the past decade. This tiny breed weighs in at about 3-6 pounds and can live an impressive 12-20 years. Their small size and high energy level make finding the best dog food for Chihuahua dogs a bit difficult.
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Despite being small, they have more of a medium energy level, making them excellent urban and apartment companions. These dogs make an excellent companion for pet owners who have a lot of time to give, but they don't like to be alone for long periods of time.
Due to their body composition, extremely small size, coat type and high energy level it can be tricky to find the perfect dog food for a Chihuahua dog. Depending on their life stage, weight and daily activity level, I have a few go-to brands that I recommend to my veterinary patients and their owners.
When shopping for an appropriate dog food for Chihuahua breed, you also need to take the breed's common health concerns into consideration. The Chihuahua is generally a healthy breed, but may have a few specific health issues or concerns. Some of these conditions may be managed with a specific diet.
The Best Dog Food for Chihuahua's Health
Before switching your dog to any new diet, always consult with a veterinarian. Remember that no article on the internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a vet.
1. Floating Kneecaps – Medial Patellar Luxation
In former times, this knee problem was called “Poodle Disease,” as it was seen primarily in purebred miniature Poodles. But, the Poodles are not alone. Many toy breeds today are predisposed to medial patellar luxation, or MPL.
Toy breeds often have very short legs, and their legs are very straight. The straightness of their legs can cause a “conformational abnormality” where their bones meet at the knee. This can make it difficult for the knee cap to sit in the grooves of the tibia where it belongs.
This means that the knee cap can pop out of place very easily in some cases, causing limping, hopping when walking, pain and early-onset of osteoarthritis. MPL is graded, with Grade 1 being least severe to Grade 4 being most severe and likely requiring surgical repair.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Small Bites
Keeping your Chihuahua in top, lean condition will help prevent excess strain on their knees. If your Chihuahua is diagnosed with a low-grade MPL, providing him with a joint-support food can help nourish the cartilage and prevent pain. I recommend Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Small Bites as the best dog food for Chihuahua dogs in this category.
Hill’s Science Diet provides joint support for toy dogs in this tasty, economical diet. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate will help improve or maintain your dog’s mobility. The small bites of kibble are designed with small dogs in mind – easy for them to pick up and chew for optimal digestion.
2. Heart Disease
Some Chihuahuas are prone to heart disease, such as mitral valve disease and pulmonic stenosis. Most often, heart disease will present with a cough, exercise intolerance or a heart murmur. If your veterinarian hears a heart murmur, it is recommended to see a veterinary cardiologist if possible.
Hill’s Prescription Diet Heart Care h/d
If your Chihuahua has been diagnosed with heart disease, talk to your veterinarian about trying a heart-healthy diet, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet Heart Care h/d. This is the brand that I recommend as the top food choice for Chihuahuas suffering from heart disease.
This heart-specific, low-sodium diet is specifically formulated to help your dog maintain a healthy blood pressure, reduce fluid retention, and boost electrolytes that may be lost due to diuretic therapy. It’s clinically-proven antioxidants, taurine and L-carnitine help to protect the heart and may help to improve your dog’s quality of life.
Chihuahuas often have either a healthy appetite or are extremely picking. Many a Chihuahua owner falls prey to their picky eating, feeding human food instead of a canine-appropriate diet. Heavy-handed feeding and picky eating are both ingredients for obesity.
The best way to keep your Chihuahua in trim condition is to feed a life-stage appropriate diet at an appropriate ration. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s current weight and body condition score. If he’s a little heavy, you may just need to reduce portion sizes for a few weeks.
Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility
If your dog’s obesity is moderate to severe, talk to your veterinarian about my recommendation for the best dog food for Chihuahua dogs that are overweight – Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility.
Hill’s has created a tasty stew that is reminiscent of Mom’s tuna noodle casserole. It provides excellent nutrition, hunger control and tempts picky eaters. This clinically-proven formula can help reduce your dog’s weight by 13% in 60 days and improve their mobility in as little as 21 days.
The Best Dog Food for Puppy Chihuahuas
Chihuahua puppies are super tiny and require a bit more attention than larger breeds. It is best if you can adopt a Chihuahua puppy once they are 10 weeks old. If you happen to get one that has been weaned younger, it is important to know about Toy Bred Hypoglycemia.
Until your Chihuahua puppy is 8-10 weeks old, he will require frequent meals. If your Chihuahua puppy goes too many hours between meals, he could suffer from potentially life-threatening low blood sugar. The best way to prevent this is to feed a tasty, canned puppy food every 2-4 hours until your pup is 8-10 weeks old.
Natural Balance Whole Body Health Puppy Canned Formula
Chihuahua puppies have a hard time eating dry food, since even small-bites formulas seem to be too big for them to handle. It is perfectly fine to feed your puppy canned food until they reach 3-4 pounds body weight, then start introducing a dry puppy or adult food.
In my opinion, the best dog food for Chihuahua puppies is Natural Balance Whole Body Health Puppy Canned Formula. Natural Balance has made a tasty canned diet that is easily fed to tiny Chihuahua puppies. It is fortified with vitamin-rich colostrum, high-quality protein from real duck and chicken, and essential fatty acid DHA for puppy brain development.
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Chihuahua Puppy Formula
Once your puppy is able to eat dry food, consider switching Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Chihuahua Puppy Formula. Royal Canin’s breed-specific line of dog food is not a marketing ploy and canine nutrition is not one-size-fits-all. They have spent time and resources researching the best way to feed your Chihuahua.
Their kibble is not only extra small for extra small mouths, it takes into account the unique shape of the Chihuahua’s jaw. If your puppy can easily pick up and chew its food, digestion can begin as optimally as possible.
The Best Dog Food for Chihuahua Adults
Chihuahuas, like other toy breeds, mature at a faster rate than older dogs. Most Chihuahuas need to transition from a puppy food to an adult food around 8 months of age. Feeding puppy food for too long can predispose some Chihuahuas to obesity.
When making the transition from a puppy-specific diet to the best dog food for Chihuahua adults, do so over the course of a week. On day 1, replace 25% of the puppy food with adult food. By day 4, your dog should be eating 50% puppy and 50% adult food. On day 7, they should be on 100% adult dog food.
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Chihuahua Adult Dry Formula
For dogs moving in to the adult stage of life, I recommend Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Chihuahua Adult Dry Formula as the best dog food for Chihuahua adults. If your pup is on Royal Canin’s puppy formula, it will be easy to switch them to the adult formula.
Not only does Royal Canin have a kibble shaped optimally for the Chihuahua, it also provides specific feeding instructions based on your dog’s activity level. Following these specific guidelines promotes a healthy weight.
Royal Canin Adult Beauty Canned Formula Toy Small Breed
If your Chihuahua prefers wet food, that is okay! Good quality canned diets are 100% balanced and offer complete nutrition for your adult Chihuahua. I recommend sticking to a trustworthy brand like Royal Canin Adult Beauty Canned Formula Toy Small Breed.
Royal Canin again does not disappoint with their Adult Beauty canned diet. Chihuahuas can be picky eaters, but this formula will tempt their taste buds. It is also formulated to provide great skin support, with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, biotin and zinc.
Being so small, Chihuahuas don’t eat a lot. When you pair small size with good quality food, you will end up spending less money than if you fed a cheaper, lower-quality food.
The Best Dog Food for Senior Chihuahuas
Senior Chihuahuas sometimes need a little extra care when it comes to their diet. It is important to manage their health issues with the help of their veterinarian. Even though this breed has a long lifespan, it is still a good idea to switch them to the best dog food for Chihuahua seniors once they are 8-10 years old.
Hill’s Science Diet 7+ Adult
Chihuahuas often suffer from dental disease as they grow older and many have to have diseased teeth extracted. If this has happened to your dog, consider feeding Hill’s Science Diet 7+ Adult.
Hill’s has been a trusted source of quality canine nutrition for decades. Their Chicken and Barley Entrée does not disappoint. It is easy for Chihuahuas to eat and tempts even the pickiest of eaters.
It is a high-quality, nutrient-dense food, which means your senior will have better stool quality and easier fecal clean-up for you. Ingredients like barley will help your dog maintain steady blood glucose levels after a meal.
There is a common relationship between poor glucose metabolism and obesity in pets. Corn, barley and sorghum are the ingredients most associated with keeping blood glucose levels consistent and may help to reduce or prevent obesity.
Hill’s Prescription Diet Joint Care j/d Canned Formula
Many older Chihuahuas suffer from joint pain from osteoarthritis. If your dog falls into this category, a specific diet may help you manage their discomfort. Using prescription diets like Hill’s Prescription Diet Joint Care j/d Canned Formula can help prevent or reduce the need for more powerful painkillers like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) and narcotics.
Hill’s Joint Care is a good value for Chihuahuas with joint pain. Its high levels of glucosamine, chondroitin and fish oil may help your dog have better mobility in as little as 21 days. High-quality ingredients like pearled barley, flaxseed and chicken will keep your pup feeling fuller for longer.
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