It takes a particular kind of person to be a Chihuahua owner. That’s because these little dogs tend to be very particular themselves.
They are particular about the people they love and tolerate, the toys they’ll play with, and the laps they’ll defend. So it should come as no surprise that your Chihuahua needs a very particular diet to maintain optimal health.
If you’ve ever struggled to keep your Chi at a healthy weight or just struggled to find a food they like, then you’ll want to keep reading to learn more about a proper small dog diet and the best dog food for Chihuahuas.
Best Dog Foods for Chihuahuas
- Best Overall: Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed
- Runner Up: Wellness Core Small Breed
- Best Canned Food: Solid Gold Small Breed Canned
- Best Senior: Merrick Lil’ Plates Senior
- Most Affordable: Blue Buffalo Small Breed Adult
Reviews of The Best Dog Foods for Chihuahuas
#1. Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed
Nutrient-dense raw bites
Some protein from legumes
If you’re looking for an all-around healthy, artificial flavor-free small breed dog food with high-quality ingredients for your dog, then you’ve just found it. Instinct’s Raw Boost formula is nutrient-dense and full of animal-sourced ingredients to help your Chihuahua thrive.
This food with optimal kibble size comes in three small breed flavors: chicken, duck, and beef. They even have a toy breed chicken flavor with extra-tiny kibbles for those teacup Chi’s and those missing teeth.
All four varieties contain between 35% and 37% protein. Much of that amount comes from ingredients like beef, turkey meal, chicken meal, freeze-dried liver, and herring meal.
Because this food is specially crafted for tiny dogs, you know it contains the right density of calories and nutrients to keep your dog happy and healthy. But what truly makes this the top grain-free dry dog food for Chihuahuas is the super nutrient-dense raw bites.
These soft little morsels are made with raw meats that are more bioavailable to your Chihuahuas system. This means your dog can more readily absorb the protein and nutrients found in them than they can from overly processed dry kibble.
In addition to being a great food for adult dogs, the high protein and fat content of this diet makes it one of the best foods for chihuahua puppies.
This quality dog food will cost you, but it is well worth the higher price for a nutrient-dense kibble that will allow you to feed less overall.
#2. Wellness Core Small Breed
Quality animal ingredients
Some protein from peas
The second candidate on our list of the best foods for Chihuahuas is Wellness’ Core small breed formula. This formula rivals Instinct in protein levels and the amount of animal-sourced ingredients.
The first three ingredients in Wellness Core diet are turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal. All of these quality meats add heavily to the overall protein amount of 36%.
This food also contains added salmon oil and fatty acids for optimal coat and joint health. This is a great choice if your Chi suffers from luxating patellas or flaky skin.
By many pet parents, Wellness Core is the best dog food Chihuahua suffering from skin allergies can hope for. It is grain-free and contains easy to digest plant ingredients like potatoes and peas.
This brand does not offer an extra-small kibble size for those dainty small dogs like Instinct does, but is one of the top dog foods for Chihuahua mixes and larger Chi’s. Given the calorie-density and kibble size, this food is perfect for most dogs under 20 pounds.
This food costs less than our first choice pick but is still on the higher end of the price spectrum.
#3. Solid Gold Small Breed Canned
Very high protein
Quality varies with flavor
Not as calorie dense
If your Chihuahua tends to be extra picky about their meals, you may want to consider feeding a canned dog food diet. For your picky pup, let me tell you about the best dog food for chihuahua, Solid Gold’s small breed canned dog diet.
These extra tasty canned diets come in five flavors: chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, and turkey. Each flavor contains between 25% and 45% protein, with the lamb flavor containing the most.
Each flavor contains a mix of animal-sourced ingredients like lamb, chicken, whitefish, and eggs. This variety of quality meats adds to the overall nutritional profile to keep your Chi healthy.
All these meats mean there isn’t a lot of room for plant ingredients, making this dog food much lower in carbs than the typical kibble diet.
Like most canned diets, this diet has a lower calorie density than the average dry food, making this the best food for a Chihuahua dog who tends to gain weight easily. However, if you want to offer this to your dog who struggles with low blood sugar, it is better to mix it with a high-calorie dry food like our number one and two choices.
Like all our choices, this food is all-natural grain-free and contains added holistic ingredients and stomach-friendly ingredients to keep your pup feeling their best.
Like many small dog wet foods, this diet will cost more to feed than even higher-end dry foods. If you are on a budget but dealing with a picky eater, mixing a tablespoon or two of this canned food with some dry kibble is a great option.
#4. Merrick Lil’ Plates Senior
Great amount of protein
Added glucosamine and probiotics
Higher in plant ingredients
Some protein from peas & potatoes
Has your Chihuahua recently joined the gray muzzle club? If so, you may have noticed that they no longer tolerate their normal diet the way they used to.
Older dogs tend to have a harder time digesting fats, require more fiber to stay regular, and most importantly of all, they tend to need fewer calories. If this sounds like your aging Chihuahua, then Merrick’s senior grain-free dog food is a great choice.
With lower than average fat content for a small toy dog diet and fewer calories per cup, this is one of the best grain-free dog foods for senior Chihuahuas on the market. And it achieves these lower levels without sacrificing quality.
Most senior diets pack in the fiber by replacing meat with carbs, but this dog food still contains an impressive 32% protein that would make Chi’s of any age happy. Much of that protein comes from real animal ingredients like chicken, chicken meal, and salmon meal.
The addition of supplements for joints, digestive health, and healthy coat make this food the best chihuahua dog food attended for seniors. Merrick’s senior diet also contains pre- and probiotics as well as fatty acids and glucosamine.
This small kibble dog food is surprisingly priced below our first two picks and a bargain considering its a specialty senior and small dog diet.
#5. Blue Buffalo Small Breed Adult
First two ingredients are meat
High in plant ingredients
High in grains
If you’re looking for a quality small breed dry dog food that won’t break the bank, our last choice is just what the vet ordered. Blue Buffalo’s adult dog formula contains natural ingredients to help your Chi thrive, at a price you can get behind.
This food comes in three flavors: lamb, chicken, and fish. All three flavors contain around 25% protein, putting this diet lowest on our list in total protein.
But, this food for chihuahuas does still contain quality animal protein like chicken meal, fish meal, and lamb as the first two ingredients in every recipe.
Unlike our other choices, Blue Buffalo is not grain-free. However, most Chihuahuas will do just fine on this food as it also contains higher quality grains like rice, oatmeal, and barley.
And of course, this dog food is all-natural and full of added nutrients to help your Chi thrive like omega fatty acids and glucosamine. As a small dog specific formula, you can also count on Blue Buffalo to be calorie-dense to better support your dog’s higher metabolism.
The Ancient History of the Chihuahua Breed
Did you know that when you cuddle your little Chihuahua you are loving on a dog breed with a history that spans thousands of years?
The Chihuahua is thought to descend from the extinct Techichi breed kept by ancient peoples of South America over a thousand years ago, according to akc.org.
When the Aztecs conquered most of the continent in the 12th century, much of the Techichi breed was lost. But their descendants lived on in remote villages and over time evolved to be lighter and smaller, similar to the Chi’s of today.
What this long lineage brings to your modern Chihuahua is a breed with relatively few genetic health problems. Unfortunately, explosions in popularity over the last couple of decades thanks to celebrities like the Taco Bell dog, have led to overbreeding of Chihuahuas.
Some of these overbred lines do carry health problems that you as a Chihuahua owner should be aware of.
Common Chihuahua Health Problems
As the tiniest of the AKC registered dog breeds, it should be no surprise that your little pup shares many common health problems with other small breed dogs.
With a pint-sized mouth to fit on that extra tiny head, Chihuahuas and other small breeds often suffer from dental issues, according to Dogz Health. Chi’s especially are prone to tooth loss from underdeveloped jawbones.
Like many tiny dogs, Chihuahuas are also prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugars, especially teacup Chi’s and puppies. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can cause loss of consciousness, seizures, and even death.
Luxating patella is another common small dog health issue that is caused by a malformation in the knee joint, leading to periodic limping. Chihuahuas can show this problem in one knee or both and may require surgery depending on the severity of the malformation.
Chihuahuas are prone to valve disease, a heart condition caused by weak and deformed heart valves. Chihuahuas could present with a heart murmur, tiredness, and labored breathing. Heart failure is the number one cause of death in these tiny dogs. Weight control and fatty acid supplement play a big role in keeping their heart-healthy.
Some Chihuahuas are genetically predisposed to diabetes. What makes it even worse is that adults can pass it to their offspring. Quality meat-based nutrition can prevent and treat this condition with big success.
Spinal injuries are a common cause of trauma in Chihuahuas. There is, however, one spine disease that can be genetic. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) occurs when a spinal disc moves from its place causing pain and sometimes paralysis.
Physical therapy can help our frisky little dog get back on their feed. The right kind of nutrition will help keep healthy body weight.
One health problem that affects many tiny dogs, especially Chihuahuas, that is not necessarily genetic, is obesity. Because small breeds need such small portions to maintain a healthy weight, it’s all too easy for you as an owner to overdo it.
Overweight Chi’s are more likely to suffer from other diseases like pancreatitis and cancer. Luckily, choosing the right food is one simple step you can take to help your dog not only avoid excess weight gain but to help reduce their chances of getting other diseases common to the breed.
What Is The Healthiest Dog Food For Small Dogs
Small dogs are well known for their tiny size and huge personality. They will jump on their high legs, run around the house constantly seeking your attention, and squeaky – bark at everything that moves.
The amount of energy Chihuahua or any other toy breed has is inexhaustible, and therefore they need a high-energy feed with the right nutrition value to keep them going.
Here are guidelines that will help you understand the nutritional needs of a toy breed and ultimately lead you to choose the very best dog food for your furry friend
The best food for chihuahua dogs should be the right size and texture. Their small jaws and sharp teeth cannot handle just any kibble. When it comes to toy breeds the small kibble is essential to keep them from shocking and to maintain dental hygiene. Have in mind that almost every older chihuahua will have dental issues. That means you will need to enhance the texture of dry dog food either by adding water or by replacing it with the right kind of wet food.
The best dog food for a chihuahua and chihuahua mix must be produced in countries with strict quality control( U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia). Small and toy breeds are super sensitive to toxic ingredients. High-quality dry dog food should not contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
The best food for chihuahuas should have high-quality meat as the first ingredient. While every dog food contains traces of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, the feed needs to be meat-based. When choosing dry or wet food, you need to avoid low-quality manufacturers that use a lot of complex carbohydrates as the main ingredient. Only high-quality protein from meat sources can satisfy the energy needs of these dogs.
Food for chihuahuas needs to contain the right kind of supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep their immune system functioning flawlessly. The addition of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is always a plus because it helps our chihuahuas maintain healthy skin. Any senior chihuahua may also benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin in their food to keep the mobility of their joints.
How to Choose the Right Food for Your Chihuahua
Your toy breed dog has a much higher metabolism than a lab or mastiff. For this reason, it’s important to pick a food that is calorie and nutrient-dense.
Luckily, many brands make diets specifically for small breed pups. These specialty diets contain higher than average calories per cup to help fight problems like hypoglycemia.
To learn more about small breed diets, check out this article on the dog foods for small breeds.
If your Chihuahua struggles with weight gain, you can even find small breed specific diets in weight management formulas. These diets are less calorie dense but still high in nutrition to keep your little buddy trim and healthy.
But it’s important to remember that most Chihuahua’s gain weight because they are eating too much in overall volume, not because their food has too many calories. The Pet Obesity Organization recommends dogs under 10 pounds eat about 200 calories a day.
For the average Chi, that breaks down to about ¼ cup twice a day. Before you switch your dog to a diet food, try reducing their portion size and cutting out treats first.
As with all dog foods, look for formulas that are high in real animal ingredients like chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef. And avoid foods that contain corn, soy, meat by-product meals, and artificial colors or flavors. Grain-free food should always have an advantage over non grain-free in case the dog has food allergies or food intolerance.
Do Chihuahuas Need Special Food
Every Chihuahua is unique and has its own nutritional needs depending on age, activity level, health condition, and size. Make sure you have considered everything when picking the best dog food for your Chihuahua.
Here are some situations when you need to provide a special diet to your frisky little dog.
Special diet according to the health condition
The dog food for Chihuahuas with allergies needs to be carefully picked out. Food allergies are after flea allergies the second most common cause of dermatitis in Chihuahuas. About 10 % of Chihuahuas have carb related allergies (wheat, oat). In these cases, grain-free recipe food is prescribed. The right kind of nutrition is an essential part of food allergy treatment. Royal Canin hypoallergenic and Hill’s science diet have provided special artificial flavors free pet food for dogs suffering from these conditions.
When choosing the best food for a chihuahua suffering from these conditions, make sure it has limited and listed protein sources that are not commonly used in commercial dog food.
Chihuahuas may develop food intolerances to some specific foods. The result is gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. The right kind of nutrition can make a big difference, once food sensibility is diagnosed.
High quality hydrolyzed protein from listed meat sources is mandatory to keep your dogs’ sensitive stomach function properly. In this case, your vet may recommend Hill’s science diet or Royal Canin gastrointestinal diet instead of commercial dog foods for chihuahuas.
Male Chihuahuas are prone to develop bladder and kidney stones. These conditions cause cystitis and gradual kidney failure if not treated in time. Besides surgically removing stones, nutrition plays a vital part in preventing the development of the new ones. Best dog food for a chihuahua with renal issues is the one that keeps urine Ph level within normal ranges. Nutrition in these cases plays a vital part in treatment; and your dog will be prescribed a special Hill’s science diet or Royal Canin urinary diet .
In the case of diabetes mellitus, the feeding schedule and nutrition need to be changed completely. Scientific dog food for diabetic chihuahuas helps maintain normal glucose levels in the bloodstream. Royal Canin diabetic diet has a great review by veterinarians and nutritionists.
Special diet according to age and gender
Female Chihuahuas are prone to Hypocalcaemia when nursing the pups. Low Ca levels in the bloodstream can cause muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure. Your lady chihuahua needs food of high nutritional value feed to maintain healthy body weight while nursing. Vitamins, Minerals, and overall Calcium supplement in their feed are crucial until chihuahua puppies don’t start taking solid food(until they are 2 months old). The Chihuahua puppy can also benefit from its mother Ca and vitamin supplement through the milk.
Chihuahua puppies unlike large breed pups don’t need as much Ca and its feed. However, it is critical to feed them puppy food with the right kibble size. Chihuahua puppies need food that contains the right nutritional value with enough fat and protein content to ensure the right joint and muscle development.
Feeding puppies at least 5 times a day in the first 3 months is essential to avoid hypoglycemia. Chondroitin and glucosamine supplement in puppy food is important to avoid tracheal collapse and increase joint health. A Chihuahua puppy needs its vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep it healthy and strong.
Have in mind that your chihuahuas’ nutrition needs will change during its life. Mindfulness and regular vet checkups will help us provide them with the very best dog food to keep healthy and happy.
What Should I Feed My Chihuahua
With all this commercial food available it is hard to decide the best nutrition Chihuahua needs to remain fit and healthy.
We want them to stay with us as long as possible. That is why it is crucial to provide them with optimal levels of protein (from high-quality meat source) and enough fruits and vegetables to keep healthy.
Here is everything you can safely use to enhance the texture, and taste of dog food for chihuahuas. If your dog is not too excited about eating small kibble, try adding some of these products.
What to use to enhance the texture and taste of dog food
High-quality kibble specially designed for small and toy dog breeds is the first choice of every loving pet parent. The great thing about this kind of nutrition is that it is balanced, so you don’t need to worry about preparing a meal. There are, however, many things you can use to make small kibble more tasteful and fun for your chihuahua.
Warm water will make your chihuahua dry food for chihuahuas more soft and palatable. This excellent solution for dogs who have chewing problems due to dental conditions. Our little frisky dog is notorious for having dental plaque, bad theft, and often paradentosis. Making texture will help keep their appetite
You can use a small amount of yummy wet dog food for chihuahuas and mix it up with some warm water, and pour it over kibble. Mixing wet and dry dog food is a good way to improve your dog’s nutrition while still minding your budget.
Chicken or beef soup is easy to prepare and can be added in dry chihuahua food.
Oil from tuna or Sardine provides a lovely aroma to dog food. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for keeping your Chihuahua fur and skin healthy.
What foods are safe to use in chihuahuas
Best dog food for Chihuahua that prefer home-cooked meals is deboned chicken. You can use a little salt while boiling it and serve it together with brown rice. This diet is a perfect Chihuahua food for ones with sensitive stomachs. To make sure this diet is complete and balanced, talk to your vet to understand the portion size and feeding schedule.
Cooked or scrambled eggs are a source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Egg shelf, however, should be avoided because it contains high levels of calcium that can be harmful to a dog breed like chihuahuas.
Yogurt with beneficial bacteria is important for a healthy digestive tract of our little dogs.
Vegetables and fruits are full of vitamins but we need to choose them carefully. Bananas, apples, and carrots are appealing to most dogs, but make sure to chop them into small pieces.
What Foods are Bad for Chihuahuas
Mixing your dry Chihuahua food with appropriate ingredients is an excellent way to enhance your dog’s nutrition and to make it more tasteful.
There are, however, many nutrients from human cuisine that can be very harmful to our Chihuahua. It is vital to know which nutrients are safe to use when feeding toy breeds. They are tiny and small amounts of these nutrients can cause a big problem.
Onions and garlic can both cause a form of anemia in our Chihuahua, and therefore should be avoided. If you are using any kind of leftovers to mix with your dog dry food, make sure to remove them completely.
Harmful Fruits and Vegetables
Grapes and raisins eaten in big amounts cause kidney failure in our little dogs.
Avocado causes gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage when given raw can suppress our little dog’s thyroid function.
Potato, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant cause even more pain in chihuahua suffering from arthritis.
Additional Nutritional Tips
Food rich in fat can trigger pancreatitis in our obese toy breeds Chihuahuas are prone to weight gain and therefore should be kept on a balanced diet throughout their life.
Raw and dry dog food should not be given at the same time. Dry dog food increases the PH of the stomach, making it hard to break down the protein in raw food. As a result, our little dog can have stomach bloat, indigestion, and diarrhea.
Chocolate and caffeine contain the substance theobromine, a toxic substance that can cause heart failure in chihuahua. Milk can cause stomach issues because a lot of Chihuahuas have lactose intolerance.
A balanced meal of our Chihuahua needs to contain three-quarters dry dog food, and one quarter of high-quality wet food or other fresh appropriate “human” food.
Frequently Asked Questions
While it may seem like your picky eater isn’t going to overdo it, most dogs that are allowed to graze throughout the day tend to gain more weight. Because Chihuahuas are prone to weight gain, it’s important that you measure out each meal.
If your dog struggles to eat the premeasured bowl when offered, try adding water, low-sodium broth, or a spoonful of canned food to entice them. Otherwise, you can try feeding them food made for picky eaters like those in this article.
What is the Best Dog Food for Chihuahua?
After reviewing the best small dog specific foods, we picked Instinct’s Raw Boost small breed recipe as the best dog food for Chihuahua for its quality and super great amount of protein content.
With 37% protein, calorie-dense kibbles, and added raw bites that pack an extra nutrient punch, your Chihuahua is sure to thrive on this quality food. And, with four flavors that are all packed with multiple, healthy types of meat, even the pickiest Chi is likely to enjoy eating this diet.
If you’re looking for something better tailored to your senior Chihuahua or something a little more budget-friendly, we’ve included some foods to meet those needs on our list as well.