The 8 Best Dog Foods for a Chihuahua in 2020

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%.

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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 descended 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

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.

Protein

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.

Fat

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.

Ingredients

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.

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:

American Journey Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Peas, Rice Bran
Key Features :

  • DHA and ARA
  • Protein and nutrient packed
  • No wheat, corn, soy
  • Reputable brand
Why You Should Buy

American Journey Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

American Journey Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is a popular choice amongst dog owners because it promotes healthy muscle development as well as a healthy skin and coat. It has DHA and ARA and is protein and nutrient packed.

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American Journey is Chewy’s own specially crafted brand of dog food, created to meet the nutritional demands of your dog. With real, deboned chicken as the first ingredient to support healthy muscle development, antioxidants added to help support a healthy immune system, and omega fatty acids to help maintain skin and coat health, this food is bound to keep your pet healthy and happy. American Journey also includes a precise blend of calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth! American Journey dog food contains DHA and ARA, naturally occurring fatty acids to help support brain and vision development. Plus, it’s made using nutrient-dense ingredients and there is never any wheat, corn, soy, chicken or poultry by-product meals, or artificial preservatives, colors or artificial flavors.

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Turkey breast, turkey liver, kale, carrots, lentils
Key Features :

  • Human-Grade
  • Slow cooked
  • Small batches
  • Auto-ships direct to your door
Why You Should Buy

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food is a human-grade, fresh food option that is delivered right to your doorstep. It is slow-cooked in small batches to maintain its nutritional integrity.

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Ollie is a fresh food option that is delivered right to your doorstep! It is a super premium dog food made with all human-grade ingredients. Ollie’s ingredients are slow cooked to preserve the nutritional integrity. There are no artificial flavors or fillers in any of their recipes, so you can be sure that your dog is getting whole, fresh ingredients and nothing more. When you sign up for Ollie, you will fill out a profile about your dog to help them create a customized recipe and delivery schedule that will suit your needs. The food is delivered to your doorstep and stored in your fridge or freezer, ready to serve when your pet needs it. Although Ollie is more expensive than other dog foods, there are a lot of added benefits that make a fresh food diet something to consider!

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry

Healthy Ingredients : Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils
Key Features :

  • No artificial flavors
  • No fillers
  • Novel meat proteins
  • Grain-free
Why You Should Buy

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is made for small breeds like your chihuahua. It is grain free and uses novel meat proteins. It doesn’t have any artificial flavors or fillers.

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Taste of the Wild is always popular with both dogs and their owners. The brand is known for grain free dog foods at a moderate price. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Small Breed Grain Free Dry Dog Food is made especially for small dogs like your chihuahua. This formula uses novel meat proteins such as venison and duck, along with lamb, egg, and ocean fish meal, to provide a lot of protein for your dog. Probiotics and prebiotic fiber help your dog’s digestion. Omega-3 supports your dog’s skin and coat. No grain, corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Toy Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Whole Ground
Key Features :

  • Supports healthy immune system
  • Supports a healthy coat
  • Specially designed for toy breeds
  • LifeSource Bits vitamin blend
Why You Should Buy

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Toy Breed Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Toy Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dog Food is made just to support the nutritional needs of a toy breed dog like your chihuahua. It is protein-rich and supports your dog’s lean muscle, skin and coat, and immune system.

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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

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Chickpeas, Turkey Meal, Tapioca
Key Features :

  • Great source of energy
  • Specially designed for toy breeds
  • Free of corn, wheat, and soy
  • Supports skin and coat health
Why You Should Buy

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Toy Breed Dog Food

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Toy Breed Chicken Recipe Dog Food is made for toy breeds with its high quality kiblle and grain free formula. It is totally free of corn, wheat, and soy and it nutrient dense to provide ample energy for your dog.

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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.

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

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Salmon Meal, Ground Barley
Key Features :

  • Source of fiber
  • Protein-rich
  • Digestible carbs
  • Wholesome grains
Why You Should Buy

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Recipe Dog Food supports your dog’s holistic health in all stages of life. It is protein-rich and includes digestible carbs, fiber, and fatty acids.

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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

Healthy Ingredients : Anchovy & Sardine Meal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Ground Brown Rice, Ground White Rice, Chicken Meal
Key Features :

  • Source of fiber
  • Supports skin and coat health
  • Made just for toy breeds
  • Supports digestive health
Why You Should Buy

Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Health Dog Food

Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Health Recipe supports your puppy’s digestive health and provides protein and carbs for energy. It is also a great source of fiber and probiotics.

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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 30% fat – you won’t do much better than that!

Canidae PURE Foundations Puppy Recipe with Chicken

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lentils, Peas, Potatoes
Key Features :

  • Only 9 ingredients
  • Provides lasting energy
  • Won’t trigger allergies or sensitivities
  • Protein-rich
Why You Should Buy

Canidae PURE Foundations Puppy Recipe Dog Food

Canidae PURE Foundations Puppy Recipe with Chicken is protein-rich and high-quality. It has just 9 ingredients, so your chihuahua is getting just what is needed and nothing more. It provides lasting energy and won’t upset your dog’s stomach.

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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.

Special Dietary and Nutritional Concerns

Metabolism

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.

Health Concerns

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.

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on Chihuahua Dog Food

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Frequently Asked Questions about Feeding A Chihuahua

Do chihuahuas need special food?

Although chihuahuas have unique dietary needs, just like all pets, it is mostly their size that plays the biggest role in choosing their food. Always be sure to talk with your vet before choosing a food for your pet, and take into consideration things like their size, age, activity level, and physical health.

Should I feed my Chihuahua a wet or dry diet?

It is usually best to feed your chihuahua dry dog food because the small kibble bites are helpful in cleaning teeth and promoting exceptional dental health. It is, however, okay to supplement your Chihuahua’s diet with some wet or semi-moist food every once in a while.

Should I feed my Chihuahua a grain-free diet?

Grain-free diets are great for Chihuahuas who have sensitive stomachs or other food allergies. If you think your Chihuahua is having digestion issues or trouble processing their food, you may consider switching to a grain-free diet.

Conclusion

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.

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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3 comments

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  • My Chiuahua was about 6 year’s old when I got her. She had been used as breeder do i had her spayed right away. She will not eat dry dog food unless I can find one with fish. Wet dog food is the same thing. I do catch her eating cat food.i feed her chicken, tuna, or chopped ham with rice.
    All of a sudden she is very contipated.
    Somebody please help me. Lin

  • My chihuahua weighs 10 lbs. he wouldn’t eat dog food and I started feeding him rotisserie chicken whic he loves. I buy it at the store and pull off the skin that has all the seasonings. He is healthy and has a very shiny coat; however I have tried many kinds of food to no avail. The closest I have gotten is beneful Tuscan style, but all kinds of dry food. Even tried Merrick, and blue! Should I just give him vitamins to supplement? He loves those treats with bacon! Thanks for any help. He is 4 years old.

  • Hi – i have an 8 1/2 yr old yorkie/chihuahua. She does not like dry food at all. i have been feeding her canned food for quite sometime. i started feeding her yesterday, Fresh Pet Select, which she really likes. I think she likes it better than the wet food.

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