Side Effects of Changing Puppy Food for Chihuahuas

"Mommy, that new food makes me feel icky."
i Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images

Your Chihuahua puppy is more vulnerable than other breeds to negative side effects of sudden food changes. His tiny size and tendency to hypoglycemia means that, if you stop feeding food that he’s used to and switch him cold to a new food, he could be one very sick little guy.

Why Food Changes Can be Bad

When you picked your Chi-pup up on Adoption Day, he probably had eaten some of the food he's been used to eating. Before you went to pick him up, think about what brand of puppy food you bought for him. If it’s not the same brand as what his foster parent or the breeder had been feeding him, he’s not going to be happy or feel very well for the next few days.

An abrupt change in puppy food brands will cause your little Chi-pup to suffer an upset stomach and diarrhea, depending on whether his food is carbohydrate-based or meat-based. The good bacteria in his intestines already have adapted to one food. If the food you buy has a different base, his system’s going to go nuts.

Slow and Easy

Before you pick up your new Chi-pup, stop at the pet store and buy the same food that his owner has been feeding him. Keep him on this food for at least one week. Too many changes in his young life will stress him out, including a dietary change.

Once he’s gotten used to your home, your family, the smells, sounds and routine of your home, you can start changing him slowly to a new food. This will involve proportions here. Begin with a 75 to 25 percent mixture of his old food and new food. If he balks, reduce the percentage of new food to a point where he eats it. Keep him on this percentage for several days until he’s readily eating the new mixture.

Continue altering the proportions of his original brand of food to the new brand until he's eating only the new food. By doing so, you allow his gastrointestinal system to get used to a new food.

Good Puppy Foods

High-quality puppy foods, either kibble or moist, will fill your Chihuahua’s nutritional needs. Follow your vet’s recommendations on brands. If you give him dry kibble, add enough warm water that the hard bits are softened enough for your pup’s tiny jaws and teeth to handle.

Some good brands include Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy, Royal Canin Chihuahua 28, which is made especially for Chihuahuas, and Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Puppy foods. Your puppy shouldn't eat table foods or too many treats because Chihuahuas are prone to becoming overweight.

Daily Feeding Schedule

A twice-daily feeding schedule is good. This allows your Chi-pup to keep a stable blood glucose level, avoiding that Chihuahua bugaboo -- hypoglycemia. Find a feeding schedule that works with your own schedule. If you work, a morning feeding, then an early evening feeding will fill his needs. Scoop 1/4 to 1/2 cup of food into his bowl daily. Watch how much he eats and adjust accordingly. Maintain your weekday feeding schedule on the weekends so he doesn’t get confused.

the nest