Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed in the world, so they naturally need a different diet than bigger dogs.
With so many dog food options on the market and a ton of information online, you might be left feeling overwhelmed. Well, you’re in the right place!
We’ll break down what you should feed your Chihuahua and how much so you can put together a Chihuahua diet plan for your furbaby.
- Choosing a Dog Food for Your Chihuahua
- How Often Should You Feed Your Chihuahua?
- How Much Should You Feed Your Chihuahua?
- Diet-Related Health Issues in Chihuahuas
- My Personalized Diet Plan For My Chihuahua
- What’s the Best Diet for a Chihuahua?
Choosing a Dog Food for Your Chihuahua
The first step is choosing a dog food for your Chihuahua. Factors to consider when choosing a dog food include:
- High-quality ingredients
- Finding a complete food
- Low or no artificial fillers and additives
- Good protein content
- Suitable fiber, carbohydrate, and fat content
- Calorie content
- Choosing wet or dry food
- Your Chihuahua’s weight
- Any health issues
- Your dog’s life stage
- Flavor for your dog
- Additional benefits
- Kibble size
Dogs have different nutritional needs when they’re in the puppy, adult, and senior stages so it’s important to find a food suitable for their age.
You can choose from dry or wet food, or even a mix of both depending on your dog’s needs. I prefer dry food as it’s better for my dog’s teeth, is easier to portion out, and is generally more affordable (especially when you have three dogs like me).
When you’re choosing a food, look for something that is ‘complete’. This just means it provides all of the nutrients your dog needs and you don’t need to add anything. You’ll also want to look for dog food with as few fillers and artificial ingredients as possible.
Keep your dog on the same food consistently once they’re adults, as changing their food can upset their little stomachs. If you do need to change their food, do so gradually so their digestive system can adjust.
When it comes to treats, choose natural, high-quality ingredients. Low-calorie treats are better for training to prevent weight gain. Our article on the best treats for Chihuahuas provides more detailed guidance.
Try to minimize human food and always double-check that anything you do share with your pup is dog-safe.
How Often Should You Feed Your Chihuahua?
Since Chihuahuas are so small, they have a different metabolism than bigger dogs. This means they process food quicker and don’t have as many energy reserves as larger breeds. So, they need frequent but small meals to keep their energy up and prevent their blood sugar from dropping.
Chihuahua puppies should be fed between three and six small meals per day. They’re doing a lot of growing at a fast rate, so they get hungry quickly and need plenty of fuel!
I recommend feeding your adult Chihuahua two or three times a day, as well as giving them healthy snacks in between meals.
As they reach the senior stage, they may do better with more frequent, smaller meals. You can feed them between two and four small meals per day.
Try to stick to feeding your pooch at roughly the same times each day. Dogs like routine and their bodies get used to when to expect food.
How Much Should You Feed Your Chihuahua?
Since Chihuahuas are so small, they only need small portions! I remember being surprised at how small the portions were when we rescued my Chi.
It’s crucial not to overfeed your Chihuahua. I know that can be difficult because they’re very cute – but being overweight is bad for your Chihuahua’s health. It can cause a range of serious health issues and even decrease their lifespan.
Likewise, it’s vital not to underfeed your dog as this can lead to malnutrition and your dog becoming underweight.
It’s hard to give an exact amount that your Chihuahua should eat at each meal because it depends on many factors including:
- Their weight (whether you’re trying to maintain their weight, help them gain weight, or focusing on them losing weight)
- Their age and life stage
- Their health
- The type of food
- Activity levels
I recommend looking at the back of the packet of the food you buy for your dog. They will have a feeding guide according to your dog’s weight which is usually very accurate.
As a rough guide, each meal should be around ¼ to ½ a cup. Of course, this depends on how many meals they get each day.
I’ve included a chart below to show estimated feeding amounts for each life stage, but remember this is just a general guideline.
|Amount Per Day
|Amount of Meals Per Day
|Calories Per Day
|Puppy: 0-1 year
|2 – 4 oz
|3 – 6
|50 per pound of body weight
|Adult: 1-7 years
|4 – 10 oz
|2 – 3
|35 – 40 per pound of body weight
|Senior: 8 years +
|4 – 10 oz
|2 – 4
|25 – 30 per pound of body weight
Chihuahuas can struggle with several health issues caused by (or related to) their diet. These include:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Joint problems (such as arthritis in overweight dogs)
- Reduced immune system
- Heart conditions
- Lung problems
- Digestive issues
I know that sounds scary, but it’s important to be aware of it so you understand the risks. That’s why feeding your furbaby an appropriate diet is vital.
If your dog is overweight or underweight – don’t panic! This is something that you can correct with the help of a vet. My Chihuahua was incredibly overweight when we first rescued her, but with the right diet and exercise, she’s now in great shape!
If you have any concerns, take your pup to visit your local vet for further guidance.
My Personalized Diet Plan For My Chihuahua
I thought I’d share my Chihuahua diet plan so you have something as an example. Remember that every dog is different.
For reference, my Chihuahua is still slightly overweight (something we’re working on after rescuing her). She’s just coming into her senior years and is very active as we go hiking regularly.
I feed her affordable, quality dry kibble twice a day. She gets ½ a cup at each meal in a little bowl. Next year I will transition her onto a senior, mobility food as she has issues with her joints.
Top tip: if you find that your dog is gobbling their food down too fast, try a slow feeder! I use one for my bigger dog and sometimes use one for my little dogs as extra enrichment.
In addition to her kibble, we often add bone broth which is great for her skin and coat health, as well as adding extra hydration and flavor. The Brutus Broth Bone Broth is an excellent choice as it’s made with 100% human-grade ingredients.
We sometimes add salmon oil which is full of healthy omega fatty acids – it’s great for her immune system, skin, coat, and cognitive function, and can even help with heart health! This Natural Dog Company Pure Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is a great option.
Sometimes we add 100% meat pate as extra protein. Occasionally my dogs get freeze-dried sprats with their meals to add some extra nutrients and flavor.
In addition to meals, my Chihuahua gets plenty of healthy snacks throughout the day to keep her energy up (and because she’s adorable, of course).
She often has dog-safe peanut butter on a lick mat or a lick toy, which serves as enrichment as well as a snack. All of my dogs absolutely love this! I love these LUKITO Licking Mats because they have a lot of different textures and the multi-pack is good value if you’re in a multi-dog household like me.
We have a few snuffle mats which we alternate between to keep things interesting. These are great for hiding small, low-calorie treats for her to find. They keep her brain busy and engage her nose.
I highly recommend trying a snuffle mat with your dog if you haven’t already. The AWOOF Pet Snuffle Mat is our all-time favorite – we’ve had it for years and it’s stood up to all three of our dogs using it regularly. It’s even easy to store and travel with!
Finally, we alternate between a range of my dog’s favorite snacks during the day and when we’re on walks or training.
What’s the Best Diet for a Chihuahua?
Chihuahuas thrive with a high-quality, complete diet spread out into frequent small meals. Low-calorie, natural treats in moderation are great options for between meals and during training sessions.
It’s crucial to help your Chihuahua maintain a healthy weight to keep them in the best shape possible and reduce the risk of health issues.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of love will help your Chihuahua to thrive!
Should I feed my Chihuahua dry or wet food?
Both wet and dry food have pros and cons. Dry food is often more affordable, convenient, and better for your dog’s dental health. Wet food can help with hydration, is easier to eat for dogs with missing teeth, and is often tastier for dogs.
How much should a Chihuahua weigh?
An adult Chihuahua should weigh between two and six pounds. Check out our Chihuahua growth and weight chart for more.
How much exercise does my Chihuahua need?
One or two short walks a day, plus some playtime and ideally a space to run around in now and then. I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour of exercise a day.