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Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas | A Balanced Diet Plan

Are you wondering what you should feed your Chihuahua? Well, you have come to the right place.

Here is some great news to consider:

Because your little friend is so small, they will only eat a scant amount of food each day. This means you can invest in top notch kibble without breaking the bank.

Count yourself lucky!

Giant breed dog owners spend hundreds of dollars a month just to keep their dogs eating quality food. You can give your pocket pet the best for just a small additional investment in high quality kibble!

This article will help you find the right food for your Chihuahua at any life stage.

In addition, we have some recommendations for the pet owner who has a sensitive eater on their hands.

Our Chihuahua dog food recommendations are grounded in extensive product research, looking for those foods with the best quality indicators, brand reputation, and of course, customer reviews for palatability.

Before we get started with the product reviews, here are some general guidelines to help you find the right din-din for your little dog:


General Information for Feeding Toy Breeds

Breed Specific Formulas

Although the commercial dog food industry is not short on gimmicks, the fact that different sized breeds have different nutritional requirements is not one of them.

Breed specific formulas by size represent real nutritional research that shows different sized dogs have different nutritional needs at all life stages.

Toy breeds such as Chihuahua have unique needs.

They have higher metabolisms, smaller stomachs, longer lifespans, and unique health concerns. All of these factors go into finding the right nutritional balance for the breed.

Take calorie consumption. Toy breeds need as many as 40 calories per pound a day, while a giant breed may need only 22.5 calories per pound a day for optimal intake.

However, the balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate (as well as trace minerals and vitamins) is also very different.

Toy breed foods tend to be higher in protein and fat to make up for the fact that they have such small stomachs.

In addition to choosing a food that is specifically formulated for toy breeds, pay attention to life stage formulas.

Over a lifetime, calorie and nutritional needs change for your canine. Make sure you are working with your vet to know when the time is right for your dog to make a dietary switch.


Specific Nutritional Concerns

Different long and short-term health problems endemic to different breeds can also have an impact on the ideal nutritional balance to strike for each dog.

For example, Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycemia, otherwise referred to as low blood sugar, which can rapidly deteriorate into a life threatening condition.

To ward off this problem, many vets recommend that owners of these toy breeds feed a diet rich in protein and fat over 4-5 feedings spread throughout the day.

This helps maintain blood sugar levels by preventing the blood sugar spike that foods rich in processed grains can cause.

Likewise, owners of toy breeds should be very careful feeding any people food that is rich in sugar or processed carbohydrates from grains such as flour or corn.

The small systems of toy breeds are very sensitive and fluctuations in blood sugar can get out of hand all too fast.

Finally, talk to your vet about keeping and administering honey or other recommended sugar boosts for use in an emergency situation.

Lethargy, problems with coordination, fainting, seizures and staring off with an unfocused gaze are all potential symptoms of dropping blood sugar, a situation that can be fatal very rapidly if left untreated.

Ask your vet about the signs of low blood sugar and learn how to stop it before it becomes fatal. This is important first aid information that every owner of a toy breed puppy should know. It just may save your pup’s life.


Chihuahua: Safe Foods to Add

It is best to find a high-quality kibble that is specially formulated for toy breeds, such as those featured in this review of the best dog foods for Chihuahuas.

However, most vets will agree that supplementing with some people foods from time to time can benefit your small dog’s diet by providing some nutritional diversity.

The best foods to add in as a special treat from time to time include plain cooked meats such as chicken, fish or beef and simple steamed veggies such as green beans or spinach.

Veggies that are high in starch content such as potatoes, or fruits high in sugars such as apples, are best avoided for toy breeds, unless your vet has specifically told you otherwise. Such foods have the potential to spike blood sugar levels.


Chihuahua: Foods to Avoid

Of course, never feed your dog processed foods that are made for human consumption.

Not only are most of them full of refined carbohydrates and nutritionally empty, they also contain chemicals that are safe for humans but potentially toxic to dogs due to different metabolic processes in the species.

A good example is the artificial sweetener xylitol, sometimes used in products for people such as peanut butter. This product has been approved by the FDA for human consumption, but is known to be potentially fatal for dogs, even when consumed in very small quantities.

There are many such chemicals in processed human foods so avoiding them as a general rule is just good, safe practice. 


Guidelines for Finding Great Dog Food

When sorting through the variety of commercial dog foods available these days, it is helpful to have some guideposts.

While talking to your vet about the best foods for your Chihuahua should be your number one line of information, some general guidelines will help you at least weed out foods that you really just don’t want to be feeding your dog:

  • Real meat should be the first ingredient. If a grain or a meat by-product is listed first, put that food down and walk away. It’s that simple. On the other hand, real meat such as deboned chicken is a good sign when listed first. In addition, meals such as lamb meal are nutritionally dense and, unlike by-products, are regulated to meet certain nutritional and processing guidelines.
  • Avoid cheap filler grains such as corn, wheat and soy. These grains have been implicated in causing food intolerances and allergies in our canine friends, alongside the growing concerns these processed foods pose to the human population. Since Chihuahuas seem to be particularly prone to skin problems, avoiding these common triggers is just good practice.
  • Seek whole food ingredients that you recognize. Examples include veggies such as spinach and sweet potatoes or fruits such as cranberries. These ingredients are more expensive and do show a commitment on the part of the manufacturer to seek out nutritionally dense ingredients for a full, balanced product.
  • Avoid artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. These days, only the cheapest foods on the market are using these ingredients. All of the products we have reviewed below avoid them all together.

Rest assured that our review of the best food for Chihuahuas has already included all of these concerns about food quality.

We have done the research for you and have included several options for each life stage and special dietary needs. Read on to find the right choice for you and your dog. 


What to Do if Your Chihuahua is a Picky Eater

It is a perennial problem for small dogs to be picky eaters, sometimes refusing to eat food that yesterday was just fine, sending concerned owners into a panic.

If this applies to you, be sure to read over WileyPup’s full article on this subject for a more in-depth look at how to deal with this common problem.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Keep a few cans of wet food that your dog loves stashed away. If she starts refusing her dry kibble, you can mix just a tablespoon of the wet in with her regular rations to tempt her to eat.
  • Freeze your bag of kibble, keeping only a week or less of rations out in an airtight container at room temperature. This prevents any spoilage and keeps food fresher and tastier.
  • Is your dog simply training you to feed more table scraps? Make sure your pup’s loss of appetite isn’t a result of simply holding out for tastier foods he knows you will offer if he waits you out.
  • Make sure you are keeping an eye out for a potential medical cause. Talk to your vet if a lack of appetite goes on for more than 12 hours, or is accompanied by lethargy, refusal to drink, excess drinking, faintness, lack of coordination, vomiting or diarrhea.

    There is no time to waste when your Chi’s delicate system is showing any of these signs that something bigger is going on. Get a vet involved ASAP.

Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas | Different Life Stages Included

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

RATING

​​​​NUTRO ULTRA Adult Dry Dog Food for Toy Breeds

NUTRO ULTRA Adult Dry Dog Food for Toy Breeds

  • Chicken and chicken meal are the top two ingredients
  • Whole food nutrition from coconut, apples, blueberries, spinach, pumpkin and more
  • Supplemental Omega 3 Fatty Acids (0.50%) and Omega 6 Fatty Acids (3.50%)
Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food

  • Deboned Chicken, chicken meal and turkey meal as the top three ingredients
  • Whole food nutrition from ingredients such as carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, and peas
  • Whole grain nutrition from oats, rice and flaxseed
BLUE Life Protection Formula Dry Puppy Food for Small Breeds

BLUE Life Protection Formula Dry Puppy Food for Small Breeds

  • Omega 3 (0.75%) and Omega 6 (3.5%) fatty acids
  • Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the top two ingredients
  • DHA (0.1%) and ARA (0.05%) to promote healthy brain and eye development
Merrick Classic Grain Free Puppy Plate Wet Dog Food

Merrick Classic Grain Free Puppy Plate Wet Dog Food

  • Deboned turkey, Chicken and Duck are among the top 4 ingredients
  • Peas, sweet potato, apples and carrots are among the whole food ingredients found in this formula
  • Manufactured in the USA from responsibly sourced ingredients
Merrick Classic Grain Free Puppy Plate Wet Dog Food

Merrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Grain Free Wet Dog Food

  • Real meat and liver as the top ingredients
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6 for skin and coat health
  • Manufactured in the USA from carefully sourced ingredients
Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

  • Salmon and salmon meal as the top two ingredients
  • Whole food ingredients such as potatoes and peas
  • Omega 3 (1.25%) and Omega 6 (2.5%) fatty acids
NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food for Small Breeds

NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food for Small Breeds

  • Chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients
  • Salmon and lamb meal for a diverse protein profile
  • Whole grain from oats, flaxseed and chia seed for prebiotic digestive support
Merrick Lil Plates Small Breed Grain Free Senior Dry Dog Food

Merrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Grain Free Senior Dry Dog Food

  • Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the top two ingredients
  • Probiotic and prebiotic fiber to aid with digestion
  • Chondroitin Sulfate (1200 mg/kg) and Glucosamine (1200 mg/kg)

Best Dog Food for Adult Chihuahuas

If your vet has given your adult Chihuahua a clean bill of health, chances are that a high-quality feed made specifically for adult toy breeds is the best place to start for a nutritionally balanced diet.

If quality is your top concern, and it should be, then here are two excellent choices to try: 

​​​​NUTRO ULTRA Adult Dry Dog Food for Toy Breeds

​​​​NUTRO ULTRA Adult Dry Dog Food for Toy Breeds

NUTRO ULTRA is a line of dog food that has been a leader in raising the bar for dog food nutrition.

Focused on high quality, whole food ingredients, this dry kibble is still affordable enough for the average consumer to feel good about as an investment in their dog’s long-term health.

Specially formulated for toy breeds, this recipe is high in protein and high-quality fats to make sure your adult Chi is getting the nutrition she needs in every bite.

The kibble is crunchy, helping to keep her teeth clean with every meal.

This food also gets high ratings for palatability, something most Chi owners know all too well can be the difference between a meal enjoyed and a snooty nose in the air.

If you are really desperate to get your Chihuahua to finish a meal, check out the wet food choices by this brand for a perfect supplement to tempt his taste buds.

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min): 27%
  • Crude Fat (min): 16%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 4%
PROS
  • Chicken and chicken meal are the top two ingredients
  • Supplemental Omega 3 Fatty Acids (0.50%) and Omega 6 Fatty Acids (3.50%)
  • Whole food nutrition from coconut, apples, blueberries, spinach, pumpkin and more
  • Whole grains such as oatmeal and brown rice
  • Diverse protein sources including chicken, salmon and lamb
CONS
  • GMO ingredients
  • Artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
  • Meat by-products
  • Corn, wheat or soy

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food

One of the rising stars in quality dog food is Wellness Complete.

Manufactured in the USA, and family owned and operated, the quality ingredients and manufacturing process are more tightly controlled than some other brands.

This selection also receives consistently high marks for taste from satisfied customers.

Wellness also offers a complete line of specially formulated wet foods that are perfect for toy breeds. If you have a picky eater on your hands, mixing a little of this tasty wet food can really encourage him to get plenty to eat with every meal.

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min): 26%
  • Crude Fat (min): 14%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 5%
PROS
  • Deboned Chicken, chicken meal and turkey meal as the top three ingredients
  • Whole food nutrition from ingredients such as carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, and peas
  • Whole grain nutrition from oats, rice and flaxseed
  • Prebiotics, probiotics and chicory root to support healthy digestion
  • Omega-3 (0.75%) and Omega-6 (3.4%) Fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Made in the USA
CONS
  • Meat or poultry by-products
  • Corn, wheat or soy
  • Artificial colors, preservatives or flavorings

Best Dog Food for a Chihuahua Puppy

Toy breed puppies have tiny bellies and burn through their food fast. It is critical that after they are weened, they are fed at least 4-5 times a day with a quality food in portions appropriate for their weight.

Letting your puppy “free feed” is a terrible idea for most dogs, however, Chihuahua puppies are a bit of an exception since low blood sugar can onset so rapidly.

Having some quality dry feed available for your puppy to eat at all times allows them the chance to get additional food on their system before blood sugar drops dangerously low.

Make sure to measure the amount of food that you are leaving out and continue to try to tempt a regular feeding 4-5 times a day by mixing some wet and dry together.

Once your puppy reaches adulthood, you will probably be able to switch to rationed and scheduled feedings. Long term free feeding may increase the risk of obesity which can lead to a litany of other health problems down the road.

In addition, free feeding takes away your most powerful motivator for training: your dog’s own food rations.

Here are some selections that you can’t go wrong with for a high-quality dog food specially formulated for your Chihuahua puppy:

BLUE Life Protection Formula Dry Puppy Food for Small Breeds

BLUE Life Protection Formula Dry Puppy Food for Small Breeds

BLUE is a very popular line of nutritious dog foods that has been a major player in forcing commercial dog food to the next level in terms of quality ingredients and whole food nutrition.

This Chicken and Oatmeal kibble is their special small breed puppy formula, designed to optimize the development of small breed dogs with high levels of protein and fat.

Their patented LIfeSource Bits® are cold processed to preserve optimum potency and are very rich in antioxidants. They are designed to boost the immune system.

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min): 29%
  • Crude Fat (min): 17%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 5%
PROS
  • Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the top two ingredients
  • Whole food nutrition from blackberries, pomegranate, pumpkin and more
  • Omega 3 (0.75%) and Omega 6 (3.5%) fatty acids
  • DHA (0.1%) and ARA (0.05%) to promote healthy brain and eye development
CONS
  • Chicken or poultry by products
  • Artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
  • Corn, wheat or soy

Merrick Classic Grain Free Puppy Plate Wet Dog Food

Merrick Classic Grain Free Puppy Plate Wet Dog Food

There are only a few options in high quality food that are formulated for small breed puppies who are also on a grain free diet, which is why we wanted to include this selection from trusted name, Merrick.

This nutrient dense formula is an excellent choice either as the primary food for a recently weened puppy, or to use as a transition to a dry formula.

It also works well as a secret stash to have on hand for a special treat for a puppy that has already made the transition to a dry food.

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min): 10.3%
  • Crude Fat (min): 5.5%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 1.4%
PROS
  • Deboned turkey, Chicken and Duck are among the top 4 ingredients
  • Peas, sweet potato, apples and carrots are among the whole food ingredients found in this formula
  • Manufactured in the USA from responsibly sourced ingredients
CONS
  • Ingredients from China
  • Grain
  • Wheat, corn or soy
  • Artificial colors, preservatives or flavors
  • Meat by-products

Best Dog Food for Chihuahua with Allergies

Chihuahuas are particularly prone to several health problems, and skin and coat problems are at the top of the list. At the first sign of trouble, work with your vet to try to identify potential food allergies or intolerances that could be causing the problem.

It is likely that your vet will encourage you to try some limited ingredient foods to see if you can use a process of elimination to identify the offending ingredient(s).

Sometimes this can be a commonly used protein source such as chicken, or it may be a certain grain, such as wheat.

Work with your vet to develop a plan to use limited ingredient diets such as those we review in this section to get to the root of the problem before it gets out of hand.

Merrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Grain Free Wet Dog Food

Merrick Lil Plates Small Breed

Merrick Lil’ Plates are among the most popular choice for lovers of the Chihuahua breed.

Nutrient dense, a commitment to high quality ingredients, and extremely palatable formulas in a variety of flavors tailored for perfect nutrition for toy breeds are part of the secret to their success.

Another big plus?

They offer a full line of grain-free options which is perfect for this breed that often struggles with grain triggered skin and coat problems.

This variety pack lets you find out which flavors your pup really goes nuts for.

It includes Petite Pot Pie, Tiny Thanksgiving Day Dinner, Dainty Duck Medley, Teensy Turducken, Itsy Bitsy Beef Stew, and Little Lamp Chop Stew. ​

Even the pickiest eater is sure to find something they love with this line of high quality dog food, specially formulated for Chihuahuas with grain allergies.

If your pup loves the flavor of these little cans of wet food, consider the dry kibble by the same brand available in a small breed formula that is also grain free. Or, get the best of both worlds and mix them up to keep your dog interested.

Nutritional Analysis (based on Little Lamb Chop Stew):

  • Crude Protein (min): 8%
  • Crude Fat (min): 3.5%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 1.4%
PROS
  • Real meat and liver as the top ingredients
  • Great nutrition from whole food ingredients such as carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6 for skin and coat health
  • Manufactured in the USA from carefully sourced ingredients
CONS
  • Grains
  • Corn, wheat or soy
  • Ingredients from China
  • Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives

Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Although grain sensitivity is one potential trigger for skin and coat issues in Chihuahuas, it turns out that the most common food allergens are actually common proteins such as chicken or beef.

In such cases, your vet may have you try a limited ingredient diet to try to isolate the offending protein so that you can eliminate it from your dog’s diet.

This can be particularly challenging since toy breed formulas are already a specialty food, further specializing into the novel protein recipes needed for elimination trials means an even smaller market for commercial food makers to sell their products.

Luckily, there are some solutions such as this fine choice by Wellness.

Along with all of the benefits we discussed with this brand in the adult food section, this product makes use of Salmon as the primary protein source which is unlikely to trigger allergies.

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min): 29%
  • Crude Fat (min): 14%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 5%
PROS
  • Salmon and salmon meal as the top two ingredients
  • Whole food ingredients such as potatoes and peas
  • Omega 3 (1.25%) and Omega 6 (2.5%) fatty acids
  • Easily digestible ingredients made especially for dogs with sensitive stomachs
CONS
  • Meat or poultry by products
  • Grains
  • Wheat, corn or soy
  • Dairy or egg ingredients
  • Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives

Best Dog Food for Older Chihuahuas

As your canine ages, they will become less active, and more prone to certain ailments such as cancer, arthritis and obesity.

Your vet can help you make good decisions about when it might be time to transition to a senior formula that offers a better nutritional balance for your less active senior dog.

Here are some top selections for quality to consider when the time is right:

NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food for Small Breeds

NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food for Small Breeds

We are returning to NUTRO ULTRA for our best  food for your older Chihuahua selection.

This is a great value from a company committed to sourcing quality ingredients and building specialized formulas for various life stages, breed sizes and specialty diets.

This formula still has the high protein and fat your toy breed dog needs, with added glucosamine and chondroitin to support aging joints.

The kibble is small and crunchy to help support dental health as your little guy ages. This tasty formula is a winner with many older Chis.

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min): 27%
  • Crude Fat (min): 13%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 4%
PROS
  • Chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients
  • Salmon and lamb meal for a diverse protein profile
  • Whole grain from oats, flaxseed and chia seed for prebiotic digestive support
  • Nutrition from whole food sources including apples, carrots, spinach, blueberries and more
  • Chondroitin Sulfate (200 mg/kg) and Glucosamine (80 mg/kg)
CONS
  • Artificial colors, flavors or ingredients
  • GMO ingredients
  • Corn, wheat or soy

Merrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Grain Free Senior Dry Dog Food

Merrick Lil Plates Small Breed Grain Free Senior Dry Dog Food

If you have a Chihuahua with joint pain, you will notice this formula has very high levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin which are excellent in helping to support healthy joints well into advanced age.

In addition, this special formula is also grain free, perfect for the senior dog with food sensitivities.

This formula is a bit more expensive than some others on the market, however, we think the quality of the product merits the price.

As your small dog ages, nutrition may be more important than ever. Make sure they are getting the best!

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min): 32%
  • Crude Fat (min): 12%
  • Crude Fiber (max): 3.5%
PROS
  • Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the top two ingredients
  • Whole food nutrition from peas and sweet potatoes
  • Probiotic and prebiotic fiber to aid with digestion
  • Chondroitin Sulfate (1200 mg/kg) and Glucosamine (1200 mg/kg)
CONS
  • Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Poultry or meat by-products
  • Corn, wheat or soy
  • Grains

Only the Best Food for Your Chihuahua

We hope this article has helped you find the right food for your Chi.

Although they are tiny in stature, these little guys need properly balanced and nutrient dense food to make up for their fast metabolism, small stomachs, and in some cases, specific health concerns.

All of our picks put quality first!

After all, since your little dynamo doesn’t eat much, why not splurge for top notch ingredients and thoughtful recipes that your dog will enjoy? 

Maybe the Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas is strawberries. By the looks of the below video it is...

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