5 Best Dog Foods for Chihuahuas from Puppies to Seniors 2019

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 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 foods for Chihuahuas.

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 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 jaw bones.

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.

One health problem that affects many small breeds, especially Chihuahuas, that is not necessarily genetic, is obesity. Because small breed dogs 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.

How to Choose the Right Food for Your Chihuahua

Your small 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 best 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 chemical colorants and preservatives.

Reviews of The Best Dog Foods for Chihuahuas

#1. Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed & Toy Breed Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food

Best Overall

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed
Score: (5/5)

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Calorie- and nutrient-dense, high-protein dog food for Chihuahuas.
Pros

Quality ingredients

High protein

Nutrient-dense raw bites

Cons

Pricey

Some protein from legumes

If you’re looking for an all-around healthy small breed dog food with quality ingredients for your dog, then you’ve just found it. Instinct’s Raw Boost small dog formula is nutrient dense and full of animal-sourced ingredients to help your Chihuahua thrive.

This great food 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 small breeds, you know it contains the right density of calories and nutrients to keep your small dog happy and healthy. But what truly makes this the best 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 dog foods for chihuahua puppies.

This quality 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 Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed

Runner Up

Wellness Core Small Breed
Score: (5/5)

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High protein kibble with quality ingredients for Chihuahuas.
Pros

High protein

Quality animal ingredients

Allergy friendly ingredients

Cons

Pricey

Some protein from peas

Second on our list of the best foods for Chihuahuas, is Wellness’ Core small breed formula. This formula rivals Instinct in protein levels and amount of animal-sourced ingredients.

The first three ingredients in this 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 omegas for optimal coat and joint health. This is a great choice if your Chi suffers from luxating patellas or flaky skin.

In fact, this is one of the best dog foods for Chihuahua’s with allergies, skin or otherwise. 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 especially dainty Chihuahuas like Instinct does, but is one of the best 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 & Toy Breed Wet & Dry Dog Food with Real Protein

Best Canned Food

Solid Gold Small Breed Canned
Score: (5/5)

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Very high-protein, palatable canned diet for picky Chihuahuas.
Pros

Very high protein

Highly palatable

Low carb

Cons

Pricey

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 food diet. For those pups, let me tell you about one of the best wet dog foods for Chihuahuas, Solid Gold’s small breed canned 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 meat ingredients 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 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 a great choice for Chihuahua’s who tend to gain weight easily. However, if you want to offer this to your small 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 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 the 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 Small Breed Grain Free Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

Best Senior

Merrick Lil’ Plates Senior
Score: (4.5/5)

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High-protein senior diet with quality ingredients for aging Chihuahuas.
Pros

Senior-specific nutrition

High protein

Added glucosamine and probiotics

Cons

Higher in plant ingredients

Some protein from peas

Some protein from 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 small dog diet is a great choice.

With lower than average fat content for a small dog diet and fewer calories per cup, this is one of the best 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 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.

Another important component of the best dog foods for older Chihuahuas is added ingredients for joint and digestive health. Merrick’s senior diet contains pre- and probiotics as well as omegas and glucosamine.

This food is surprisingly priced below our first two picks and a bargain considering its a specialty senior and small dog diet.

#5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Most Affordable

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Adult
Score: (4/5)

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Affordable small breed diet with healthy meats and grains for Chihuahuas on a budget.
Pros

Affordable

First two ingredients are meat

Cons

Lower protein

High in plant ingredients

High in grains

If you’re looking for a quality small dog food that won’t break the bank, our last choice is just what the vet ordered. Blue Buffalo’s small 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 does still contain quality animal ingredients like chicken meal, fish meal, and lamb as the first two ingredients in every recipe.

Unlike our other choices, this food is not grain free. However, most Chihuahuas will do just fine on this food as it contains higher quality grains like rice, oatmeal, and barley.

And of course, this 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 this food to be calorie dense to better support your small dog’s higher metabolism.

What is the Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas?

After reviewing the best small dog specific foods, we picked Instinct’s Raw Boost small breed recipe as the best dog food for Chihuahuas for its quality and super-high 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 meats, 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should my Chihuahua eat?
Most adult dogs do fine on two meals a day, however, if your dog suffers from low blood sugar issues, you’ll want to feed at least three small meals a day. Puppies require even more feedings, often four to six, spread throughout the day.
Does my Chihuahua puppy need a puppy specific diet?
Because small breed diets are already calorie-dense, your small breed puppy is likely to do fine on an all life stages small breed food. Just make sure it is high in both quality protein and in fat.
My Chihuahua is a picky eater, is it ok to free feed him?

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.

Summed Up: The Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas

Instinct Raw Boost Small BreedWellness Core Small BreedSolid Gold Small Breed CannedMerrick Lil’ Plates SeniorBlue Buffalo Small Breed Adult
Features for ChihuahuasCalorie and nutrient dense, high in animal ingredients, high proteinHigh protein, calorie dense, quality ingredientsVery high protein, palatable, multiple flavorsLower fat, easily digestible, high proteinAffordable, calorie dense, all natural
Ingredient Quality5/55/55/54.5/54/5
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Sources

  1. Various. “Chihuahua Health Problems” dogzhealth.com.
  2. Christine Adkins. “The Chihuahua: Small Sassy Charmer” moderndogmagazine.com.
  3. Anna Burke. “Best Dog Food for Small Breeds” akc.com, 2 June 2016.
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