Chihuahuas are sassy little beings. Full of spunk, opinions, and independence, these teeny little companions make great members for any family. If you’ve been considering adding a Chihuahua to your family, then take a few moments to research the best way to feed them.
Chihuahuas have the potential to live a very long life, often living until they are 13 years old. A healthy diet is key to prolonging their longevity.
Ideal Nutrients for Healthy Chihuahuas
Despite being tiny, Chihuahuas are prone to weight gain. When you’ve got such a cute creature giving you doe eyes every time you open the pantry door, it’s hard not to slip them a treat here and there.
However, even a small amount of excess weight on such a small frame can lead to some serious health problems, so it’s a good idea to rein in the generosity on the human food and stick to a high quality dog food.
Chihuahua Protein Requirements
Despite the large amounts of energy Chihuahuas burn just being themselves (i.e. barking and shivering), you really have to be careful about the quality of calories you’re feeding them.
This starts with a good quality protein. Poor quality protein provides calories that your dog can’t burn efficiently, thus leading to an increased chance of weight gain.
Chicken is the staple protein source found in commercial dog food diets, but it isn’t really the optimal type of protein for this breed. A better choice would be a lean protein like fish, bison, or venison.
You can certainly choose meats that are considered a bit exotic like ostrich, kangaroo, or boar, but these aren’t necessarily a better choice than something simple like salmon.
Chihuahu Carbohydrates Requirements
Carbohydrates are essential for providing energy, and your Chihuahua is certainly expending a ton of energy just in their daily activities. This means carbohydrates aren’t just something that’s in their food; it’s a nutrient they need.
Complex carbohydrates are always superior to simple carbohydrates because of how the body breaks them down. Simple carbs are broken down quickly and provide a quick burst of energy followed by a steep crash. Complex carbs, however, are slowly broken down, providing energy for longer periods of time without the ensuing crash.
In terms of dog food, what is considered a complex carb versus a simple carb? Simple carbs are things like corn, soy, and wheat. Complex carbs are typically things like sweet potatoes, barley, and quinoa.
Cheap dog foods use simple carbs as a way to fill their recipe and make it meet dog food guidelines. High quality foods use ingredients that offer nutrition instead of just filling the gaps in a recipe.
Read the label on your dog’s food. The main ingredient should always be a meat, and any following ingredients should not be items like corn or soy.
A Note About Sensitive Tummies in Chihuahuas
Chihuahuas are pretty prone to having sensitive stomachs. This is usually due to some sort of dietary intolerance. A common culprit is chicken. Despite being in a majority of commercial dog food blends, it’s not tolerated well by many dogs.
If your dog is eating a food with chicken or grains and they’re having a lot of frequent nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea and there aren’t any health conditions, then it’s possible they’re experiencing some sort of intolerance to their food.
Picking the Right Dog Food for Your Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are pretty fussy creatures. They’re suspicious of strangers, irritated by change, and snobs about their food. Many a Chihuahua owner has gone through countless brands of dog food trying to find a recipe their dog will eat long term instead of losing interest after a few days or weeks.
What should you do if your dog is a finicky eater and doesn’t want anything except table scraps or treats? The biggest mistake owners make is continuing to feed their Chihuahua unhealthy foods in an effort to get their dog to eat.
If your dog is refusing to eat their food and you’re giving them things like lunch meat or treats in an effort to get them to eat something, you’re not getting them any closer to actually eating the food they should be eating.
The best thing you can do is consistently offer the food they’re supposed to be eating. Dogs truly won’t starve themselves if they don’t have any underlying health conditions, so if your vet has cleared your dog of any health issues, then you have to be firm in offering them their dog food and not giving in with treats or other goodies.
The Case for Dry Food versus Wet Dog Food
More attentive dog owners often give their tiny dogs wet food because they feel like it’s easier for their dogs to eat with their equally tiny teeth. While this is probably true, there are dry dog food diets available that are sized to be comfortably eaten by dogs with small mouths.
However, there is research showing that a diet of soft food contributes to dental problems. Dry food offers a sort of brushing technique because the kibbles are abrasive on the teeth. Chihuahuas’ biggest health problem is their propensity to bad teeth. Regardless of how well you take care of their teeth, they end up needing dental cleanings at least once per year.
When you have a dog that’s already predisposed to dental disease, removing any chance of abrasive action on the teeth isn’t going to work in their favor. Even if your dog eats a steady diet of dry food, this isn’t a substitute for regular dental cleanings. A dry diet is simply something to help stave off how often they need dental cleanings by their veterinarian.
Feeding your Chihuahua family member isn’t necessarily hard unless your dog is particularly difficult in nature. A high-quality food with a good balance of lean protein and complex carbohydrates is enough to ensure they remain healthy and they’re given the tools to live a long, healthy life.