Chihuahuas are very popular pet dogs because of their lively personality and small size. Like all dogs, Chihuahuas need good food and clean water. However, because they are so small and have such a high metabolism, they are very sensitive to their diet. Improper feeding can cause hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, at one extreme and pancreatitis, or an inflamed pancreas, at the other.
Feed Premium Dog Food
Feed your Chihuahua premium quality dog food, and at least three-quarters of the amount should be dry. The remainder can be canned, but dry kibble allows dogs to crunch and gnaw their food the way their jaws have developed to do. A premium dog food will list a named meat or meat meal, such as turkey meal or lamb, not meat by-products, as its top ingredient or top several ingredients. The next ingredients should be digestible carbohydrates, such as potatoes and rice. Grains such as wheat, oats and corn, as well as glutens, are not very nourishing for dogs, and can cause allergies. Premium dog food also uses natural preservatives such as Vitamins C and E, rather than artificial ones such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin.
Feed Just Enough
Feed according to the directions on the bag or can of dog food. Err on the side of underfeeding. You're doing OK if you can feel your dog's ribs. If you can't, feed a little less. If your dog is noticeably thin, or lacks muscle tone or energy, or if you and your dog are out running miles and miles, feed a little more.
Puppies are Different
Feed adult Chihuahuas twice a day. Puppies, however, should always have a little puppy kibble available; make certain your puppy eats it. If your puppy is weak or listless, if the ears, gums or skin are tinged grey or blue, if it is cold, confused, disoriented or unusually tired, it is probably suffering from low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). First, place a high-calorie supplement such Nutri-Cal under the dog's tongue or on the gums. Corn syrup and sugar are also OK. Then feed a high-protein food, like some canned dog food or an egg. If your puppy doesn't respond, call your vet immediately. Hypoglycaemia is life-threatening. Adding sugar to your Chihuahua's drinking water will not prevent hypoglycaemia but it may cause it by creating blood sugar spikes, followed by crashes.
Your Chihuahua is so small that feeding table scraps can easily cause obesity and diabetes. Their size also means that Chihuahuas are very sensitive to the many common human foods that are toxic to dogs. Many foods are toxic. Some include raisins, grapes, coffee, tea, alcohol and chocolate. Milk can cause diarrhoea in puppies. Large amounts of fatty scraps, drippings and cooked meat can cause pancreatitis because the diet is too rich for such a small dog.
Where to Get Premium Dog Food
You can purchase premium food from your breeder, vet, obedience trainer, pet store or even online. Should you choose to make your dog's food yourself, consult with your vet first to ensure that your recipes provide proper nutrition.
- American Kennel Club of America Meet the Breeds: Chihuahua, October 2008
- American Kennel Club of America: Nutrition and Feeding
- The Chihuahua Club of America: Chihuahua Puppy - General Care; Stacey Amirov, April 2011
- Consumer Research: Dog Food: What to Look For; August, 2010
- Consumer Research: Dog Food Ingredients