You may already know that the Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed, but did you know that it is also one of the oldest? This breed is named for the state of Chihuahua in Mexico where it was developed many centuries ago. The exact history and origins of the Chihuahua breed are unknown, but there are many theories. The most popular theory suggest that the Chihuahua is descendant from the Techichi, a companion dog that was kept by members of the Toltec civilization in ancient Mexico. There are no written records to support this theory prior to the 9th century but ancient artifacts such as handmade pottery dating back to 300BC have been seen to feature the image of dogs that could be early ancestors of the Chihuahua breed.
Though the origins of the Chihuahua breed are up for debate, there is no arguing that this breed is one of the most spirited breeds out there. Chihuahuas are often described as having the energy and personality of a much larger dog packaged in a tiny body. The Chihuahua is technically a toy breed, standing no more than 5 inches tall and weighing no more than 6 pounds at maturity. These dogs are very energetic, though their needs for exercise are surprisingly low. What this breed really needs is a lot of human interaction and play time. In addition to being fairly active, Chihuahuas are also smart – in fact, they can sometimes be a little too smart for their own good, bordering on the edge of stubborn or strong-willed. Early socialization and training is essential for this breed to prevent problem behaviors like small dog syndrome from developing.
The Chihuahua can be a challenging breed to keep, despite its diminutive size. These dogs need a lot of attention and training, plus there are some serious health issues you need to be mindful of. Like many toy breeds, the Chihuahua is prone to dental problems, musculoskeletal issues, and various inherited conditions. Some of these health problems can be managed with medication and dietary modifications, but you will need to speak to your vet to determine what is best for your dog. In general, however, you want to make sure that your Chihuahua gets a steady influx of energy to support his fast metabolism in nutrient ratios that will reduce his risk for obesity. The best way to ensure that your Chihuahua’s specific nutritional needs are met is to select a small-breed or toy-breed formula. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional requirements for Chihuahuas and to receive recommendations for quality dog food brands for this lovely breed.
General Nutritional Recommendations for Chihuahuas
When shopping for a new dog food product for your Chihuahua you should start by learning about the basic nutritional needs of dogs in general. Dogs are not obligate carnivores like cats so they do have a limited ability to digest plant products. Still, the ideal diet for dogs should consist primarily of proteins and fats with very limited carbohydrate content – aim for a crude fiber content no higher than 5%. Because dogs are primarily carnivorous, their bodies are adapted to digesting animal products more efficiently than plant products. This means that most of your dog’s diet should be made up of animal-based ingredients. This includes animal-based proteins like meat, poultry, game, and fish as well as animal-based fats like chicken fat and salmon oil.
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Protein is the most important nutritional consideration for all dogs, including the Chihuahua. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends a minimum of 22% protein for puppies and 18% for adult dogs, though it is always good to see a protein content higher than the minimum. Remember, protein should come from animal-based sources – this not only ensures that the protein offers high bioavailability, but it also ensures that it is a complete protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids (23 of them, to be exact) and your dog’s body is capable of synthesizing all but 10 of them. The remaining 10 are called essential amino acids because they must come from your Chihuahua’s diet. Animal proteins like fresh meat and meat meals are called complete proteins because they contain all 10 essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins are incomplete proteins and less biologically valuable for dogs.
Just like protein, the majority of the fat in your dog’s diet should come from animal-based sources. Named sources of fat like chicken fat instead of “poultry fat” are always preferable because it is difficult to judge the quality of an unnamed ingredient. Look for a product that offers a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to ensure that your dog gets the fats he needs to support his healthy skin and coat as well as his immune system. Fats are also a very concentrated source of energy which makes them particularly valuable for small- and toy-breed dogs like the Chihuahua who have very fast metabolisms. The minimum recommended fat content for puppies is 8% and, for dogs, it is 5% but a higher value is almost always better when it comes to a small- or toy-breed specific formula.
In addition to making sure that your Chihuahua’s diet meets his needs for protein and fat, you should also consider the supplemental ingredients. Any carbohydrates included should come from digestible sources like whole grains, starchy vegetables, or legumes. For vitamin and mineral supplementation, fresh sources like fruits and vegetables are always preferable, though synthetic supplements may still be required for nutritional balance. When it comes to mineral supplements, chelated minerals are what you want to look for – these minerals have been chemically bound to protein molecules which makes them easier for your dog’s body to digest and absorb. Probiotics like dried fermentation products are also valuable supplements because they help to support your dog’s digestive system. Avoid any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives as well as corn, wheat, and soy ingredients.
Special Dietary and Nutritional Concerns
As a toy-breed dog, the Chihuahua has a very fast metabolism – much faster than that of a larger dog. On average, dogs require about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis. Small and active breeds, however, need closer to 40 calories per pound of bodyweight. Since the Chihuahua only weighs a maximum of 6 pounds, this only adds up to about 240 calories, however, so you need to be careful to choose a nutrient-dense dog food product that will meet your Chihuahua’s nutritional needs in such a small number of calories. The best thing you can do is to select a high-quality dog food formula that is specially formulated for toy-breed dogs. These recipes are specifically designed to offer complete and balanced nutrition for smaller dogs who have high energy needs like the Chihuahua.
Not only does the Chihuahua’s high needs for energy necessitate frequent feedings, but this breed is also susceptible to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. If your Chihuahua’s blood sugar drops too low he could show signs of lethargy, loss of coordination, or even suffer from muscle spasms. The best way to avoid these problems is to feed your Chihuahua several small meals throughout the day instead of one or two larger meals. You should also keep some simple sugar supplements like honey or karo syrup on hand in case your dog’s blood sugar drops dangerously low. Some Chihuahua owners also choose to feed their dogs a low-glycemic diet to help prevent spikes in blood sugar. This type of diet focuses on complex, low-glycemic carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and fresh fruits and vegetables instead of grains and other high-glycemic carbs.
Another thing you need to be aware of when it comes to feeding your Chihuahua is the fact that he has a very small mouth – he won’t be able to chew large kibble. Toy- and small-breed specific recipes frequently feature smaller kibble sizes that will be easy for your Chihuahua to chew. You should also keep in mind that small- and toy-breed dogs often suffer from overcrowding when it comes to their teeth and this can increase their risk for periodontal disease. Look for a small- or toy-breed formula that offers dental benefits such as an improved kibble shape designed to help scrape plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth and gums.
What is the Best Dog Food for my Chihuahua?
As you have already learned, the Chihuahua is a toy breed which means that he needs a nutrient-dense dog food that will meet his needs for energy. The best way to ensure that these needs are met is to select a toy-breed specific formula. When you start shopping, however, you shouldn’t just by the first toy-breed formula you find – you still need to check the ingredients list and the guaranteed analysis to make sure that the product uses high-quality ingredients. A product that relies heavily on plant-based ingredients may be cheaper but it won’t offer the same quality of nutrition as a recipe made with animal-based ingredients. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice for your Chihuahua:
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Toy Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe: For a high-quality product that is formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of toy-breed dogs, consider this Blue Buffalo Life Protection Toy Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe. This formula features protein-rich deboned chicken as the primary source of protein, supplemented with wholesome whole grains and garden-fresh fruits and vegetables. With plenty of animal-based proteins, this formula helps to support your dog’s lean muscle mass while also meeting his unique energy needs. There is also plenty of healthy fats to promote healthy skin and coat as well as a strong immune system. As an added bonus, this recipe includes Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which contain a special blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to ensure nutritional balance and healthy oxidative balance.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Toy Breed Chicken Recipe: If you want a premium-quality diet that is rich in nutritious ingredients, you can’t do better than this Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Toy Breed Chicken Recipe. This formula is part of the Instinct Raw Boost line of products which features high-quality kibbles infused with freeze-dried raw pieces for a boost of healthy nutrition. Naturally grain-free, this formula features high-quality chicken meal and plenty of omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. It is completely free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as artificial additives. Plus, because it is designed for toy-breed dogs, it will meet your Chihuahua’s need for nutrient dense, high-energy food.
Nutro Ultra Toy Breed Adult Recipe: This Nutro Ultra Toy Breed Adult Recipe is designed to provide the nutrition and energy that toy-breed dogs to support a long lifespan. This recipe is made with farm-raised chicken and other natural ingredients as well as the Nutro DNA Advantage Blend formula which contains a special blend of antioxidants for nutritional rejuvenation. This formula has targeted levels of protein and fat to support the high energy needs of your Chihuahua and it has a unique kibble shape to reduce plaque and tartar buildup. With a 25% protein content and 16% fat, this formula is ideal for toy-breed dogs like the Chihuahua so you can feel good about feeding it to your dog!
What is the Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas Puppies?
Because the Chihuahua only grows to a maximum size around six pounds, it doesn’t take long for puppies to reach their adult size. To make sure that your Chihuahua puppy gets enough protein to support his rapid growth and development, you should start him with a toy-breed puppy formula. These recipes will provide your puppy with the quality protein he needs to develop strong muscles as well as the fat he needs to support his fast metabolism. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice to consider for your Chihuahua puppy:
Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Recipe: The Wellness Company follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition, relying on quality ingredients to meet the nutritional needs of dogs in all life stages. This Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Recipe is uniquely formulated to meet the energy needs of small-breed dogs, helping to ensure healthy growth and development. This formula features protein-rich turkey, chicken meal, and salmon meal as the primary proteins with wholesome grains like oatmeal, barley, and brown rice for dietary fiber and nutritional support. You will also find plenty of omega fatty acids to support your puppy’s brain development as well as essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Health Recipe: There aren’t many commercial dog food formulas out there for toy-breed puppies, but this Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Health Recipe is one of them. This recipe features anchovy and sardine meal as the primary ingredient which not only meets your Chihuahua puppy’s needs for protein, but it also provides plenty of omega fatty acids to support his healthy skin and coat. This formula also contains active probiotics, healthy fiber, and active digestive enzymes to support your puppy’s digestive system, helping to make sure that he is able to absorb and utilize all of the nutrients from the food he eats. This recipe provides a whopping 30% crude protein and 20% fat – you won’t do much better than that!
Canidae PURE Foundations Puppy Recipe with Chicken: If you are looking for a protein-rich, high-quality puppy formula, consider this Canidae PURE Foundations Puppy Recipe with Chicken. This recipe is made with just 9 key ingredients to ensure that your puppy gets the nutrients he needs to grow with nothing he doesn’t. Featuring fresh chicken and menhaden fish meal as the primary proteins, this recipe offers an ideal balance of protein and omega fatty acids to support healthy growth and optimal energy. Plus, because it is made with a limited number of ingredients, it reduces the risk for triggering food allergies and sensitivities which will start your puppy’s life on the right foot.
Shopping for dog food can sometimes be tricky, especially if you aren’t familiar with the basic nutritional needs of dogs. It takes time and practice to learn how to read a pet food label, but it is definitely worth it. If you don’t feed your Chihuahua a high-quality diet from the get-go you could be setting him up for a life of health problems. Spending a few dollars more for the premium brand is always worth it to ensure that your dog gets the quality nutrition he needs to live a long, healthy life. This is particularly important for smaller dogs who have fast metabolisms and long lifespans. If you need help getting started in your search for the perfect dog food for your Chihuahua, consider one of the top recommended brands of toy-breed dog food and puppy food reviewed above.