Pet supply stores have rows and rows of dog foods: kibble, canned, moist 'n' chewy. You want to make the right choice for your Chihuahua, but rather than being helpful, the large selection of foods available for dogs gets confusing. Understanding what your little one needs nutritionally makes the choice easier.
Protein and Carbs
Small dogs like Chihuahuas burn more calories because they have a faster metabolism than large-breed dogs. Chihuahuas have tiny tummies, though, so they can't eat a lot in one sitting. This makes it important to feed your Chihuahua a diet dense with protein and carbohydrates. When reading the label of a potential dog food, make sure that the first ingredient listed is protein. Preferably it will list the type of protein, too: beef, chicken or fish.
Fat is necessary for a well-rounded diet and it is rich in calories that provide energy. Your Chihuahua will typically burn off the fat she eats, provided it's a moderate amount, so finding a low-fat food isn't required unless she is overweight.
Foods that provide antioxidants are beneficial for small-breed dogs like Chihuahuas since smaller breeds have a longer life expectancy. Antioxidants will protect your Chi from free-radical damage, keeping her healthy throughout her life.
Some of the quality dog food manufacturers have started selling breed-specific dog food formulas. The ones formulated for Chihuahuas typically have chicken as the No. 1 ingredient followed by barley, prebiotics for digestion, antioxidants and natural fish oil to provide omega-3 fatty acids. These Chihuahua-formula foods are smaller-sized kibble, too, making it easy for the small dog to eat.
Dogs of all breeds can develop food allergies, and Chihuahuas aren't an exception. If your Chi displays symptoms of a food allergy such as diarrhea, vomiting and itching, consult your vet. She can help by recommending foods that your dog might not have eaten before and therefore will be less likely to be allergic to. Many dog foods are now being made with alternate protein sources such as duck, rabbit and venison. Your vet may also recommend withholding treats, ceasing medication and removing toys that might be causing or contributing to the allergic reaction. After a period of being symptom-free, you will be able to reintroduce foods and medications back into your Chihuahua's diet to see which specific item is the cause of the allergy.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.