Best Overall for Chihuahuas: Canidae PURE Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
“This limited ingredients grain free dog food is loaded with premium, high-quality ingredients that support your Chihuahua’s healthy digestion, maintain a strong immune system, and promote skin & coat health.”
Best For Weight Management: Merrick Grain Free Weight Formula Dry Dog Food
“This grain free weight formula for chihuahuas who are prone to obesity. With this food, you can monitor your dog’s calorie intake and make sure that he’s still getting all the nutrients he needs to stay strong and healthy.”
Best Value for Money: Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Dry Dog Food
“This dog food is ideal for highly active chihuahuas who need a great source of energy to get them through the day. It will not just give them enough fuel for fun and play, it keeps them properly nourished at an affordable price.”
Chihuahuas are tiny, almost-pocket-sized pooches with a huge personality. This is what makes them incredibly adorable. Unfortunately, their cuteness does not exempt them from issues that affect their health. These little fur balls are prone to quite a number of food allergies, obesity, and dysplasia.
Good thing these health concerns can be prevented by feeding your pooch the best dog food for chihuahuas. If you’re still looking for one, we’ve got you covered.
Table of Contents
- The Rundown
- Best Dog Food For Chihuahuas
- 1. Canidae PURE Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
- 2. Merrick Grain Free Weight Formula Dry Dog Food
- 3. Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Dry Dog Food
- 4. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- 5. Pupford Freeze-Dried Training Treats
- 6. Wellness Core RawRev Dry Dog Food
- 7. Orijen Senior Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- 8. Diamond Naturals Dry Puppy Food
- 9. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Dog Food
- 10. Royal Canin Chihuahua Dry Dog Food
- 1. Canidae PURE Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
- Common Health Issues Chihuahuas Suffer From
- How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas
- Questions & Answers
Best Dog Food For Chihuahuas
Here are our top picks for the best dog food for chihuahuas:
- Best Overall for Chihuahus: Canidae PURE Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
- Best Weight Management Food: Merrick Grain Free Weight Formula Dry Dog Food
- Best Value for Money: Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Dry Dog Food
- Best for Muscle Development: Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- Best Treat for Chihuahuas: Pupford Freeze-Dried Training Treats
- Best High-Protein Food: Wellness Core RawRev Dry Dog Food
- Best for Chihuahua Seniors: Orijen Senior Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- Best for Chihuahua Puppies: Diamond Naturals Dry Puppy Food
- Best for Dogs with Kidney Problems: Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Dog Food
- Best Breed-Specific Diet: Royal Canin Chihuahua Dry Dog Food
1. Canidae PURE Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
Best Overall for Chihuahuas: Complete, well-rounded diet for dogs prone to allergies
- Limited ingredient formulas help reduce chances of allergies
- Various recipes available, all high in protein and fat, perfect for Chihuahuas
- Great Omega fatty acid levels
- Kibbles are about the size of a pea, so great for small breed jaws
- Fairly expensive
For dog breeds that are prone to allergies, a limited ingredient recipe like this one provides proper nutrition while avoiding problem ingredients as well as ingredient interactions that may aggravate or induce allergies.
The protein content ranges from 25% (bison and wild boar flavors) to 32%, making it great for muscle development and added energy for your pooch’s daily activities. The fat, as well as the Omega fatty acids content, is consistently high throughout the flavor range making it an ideal food for keeping your dog full of energy and well-protected from any skin allergies.
Every flavor contains high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin as well, so you can guarantee that your Chihuahua’s joints will be well taken care of.
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2. Merrick Grain Free Weight Formula Dry Dog Food
Best Weight Management Food: Keeps your dog’s weight in check while making sure he gets the proper nourishment he needs
- Lower in fat for dogs who don’t use as much energy
- Remains high in protein despite the lowered fat count
- Contains good levels of Omegas and joint-strengthening supplements
- High-quality, easily digestible ingredients
- Not suitable for pups sensitive to poultry products
- Somewhat pricey
Because they’re so small, Chihuahuas can easily become overweight if their food intake isn’t monitored closely. A weight management dog food like this can help maintain their weight at an appropriate number while also making sure that they’re getting all of the nutrients they need to function properly.
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3. Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Dry Dog Food
Best Value For Money: Excellent nutrition with added supplements for an incredibly affordable price
- Extremely affordable dog food with added supplements to support daily function
- Significant protein and fat levels for active Chihuahuas
- Contains good Omega levels & a significant amount of joint-strengthening substance, glucosamine
- Contains L-carnitine for energy production and heart & brain function
- Not suitable for dogs who are sensitive to poultry
Finding an affordable dog food, especially for those with several sensitivities, can be quite a challenge. But this Extreme Athlete formula from Diamond Naturals is packed with nutrients and added supplements from healthy, premium quality sources that are guaranteed safe for your Chihuahua.
The fat count is spot-on for a small breed, as is the protein, and they come from high-quality sources, which is usually not the case for more affordable foods. It also contains a good dose of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your pooch’s joints strong and tough.
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4. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Best For Muscle Development: Amazing Amino acid profile to help keep muscle mass and boost muscle development for growing pups
- High-quality ingredient list including real meat, meat meal, and vegetables and fruit
- Very high protein and fat levels that would suit an active pup
- Nice Omega fatty acid levels and glucosamine levels
- Beef flavor avoids poultry for dogs who are sensitive to it
The Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dry Dog Food is the perfect blend of kibble and raw food. It contains healthy chunks of freeze-dried raw bits which packs a good protein punch. It also adds a nice texture to your dog’s usual kibble.
If you’re considering switching to raw feeding, this would be a great transition food to get your pooch used to the taste and feel of raw food.
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5. Pupford Freeze-Dried Training Treats
Best Treat for Chihuahuas: High-value treat loaded with nutrients to get your dog’s attention
- Low calorie treats perfect for extended hours of training
- Comes in three delicious flavors your pooch will enjoy
- Limited ingredient formula that avoids filler foods and unhealthy ingredients
- Perfect size for a small breed like a Chihuahua
- Although you’re getting more treats per bag, they are considered to be more expensive than many others on the market
These low-calorie, freeze-dried treats are perfect for the tiny Chihuahua as they contain a good amount of fat, are high in protein, and are bite-sized for tiny jaws.
A high-quality treat like the Pupford Freeze-Dried Training Treats is an essential complement to their dry dog food. They’re not just tasty little treats you can use for training your dog, they also round up your Chihuahua’s diet by adding nutritional value.
It’s naturally and minimally preserved which means it retains its raw flavor as well as its nutrients.
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6. Wellness Core RawRev Dry Dog Food
Best High-Protein Food: A protein-rich, grain-free diet that promotes lean muscle development and a healthy skin & coat
- Recipe options available for puppies & overweight dogs
- Grain free food that’s high in protein and fats
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to keep joints tough
- Contains raw pieces for an extra healthy boost and added texture
- None of the Wellness Core flavors are poultry-free
- Somewhat pricey
Wellness Core RawRev Dry Dog Food is packed with healthy, wholesome ingredients that your Chihuahua needs.
Every flavor in this recipe range is grain free and high in protein and fats. It also contains some of the highest Omega fatty acid levels we’ve seen, especially in a dog food at this price point. There’s a significant amount of vitamin A and E, calcium/phosphorus, and joint-fortifying fatty acids, making this a complete, well-balanced diet for your pooch.
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7. Orijen Senior Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Best for Chihuahua Seniors: Nutrient-dense dog food formula with fresh and raw animal ingredients
- High in protein and fat, which is great for still-active seniors
- Contains DHA and EPA, great fatty acids to keep the brain sharp
- Great levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for aging but active joints
- Biologically appropriate nutrition, whole-food ingredients
- Contains chicken, so may not be the best option for seniors who are allergic to poultry
- Somewhat pricey
Chihuahuas are naturally energetic even as they age. As your dog grows older, a senior dry dog food that contains good protein and fat levels is highly recommended. The Orijen Senior Grain Free Dry Dog Food uses fresh and raw natural ingredients that has everything your aging Chihuahua needs to maintain daily function.
Aside from a good protein and fat content, it also comes with added supplements. Glucosamine will keep your little senior’s joints strong and able to support their body weight. And DHA and EPA will keep their brain and vision sharp.
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8. Diamond Naturals Dry Puppy Food
Best for Chihuahua Puppies: Optimal amino acid profile intended for growing pups
- High in both protein and fat for a growing Chihuahua puppy
- Contains DHA for developing healthy eyes and brain tissue
- Highly digestible ingredients with added prebiotics
- Contains superfood ingredients (blueberries, kelp, kale)
- Doesn’t contain glucosamine
- May not be suitable for puppies who have a poultry sensitivity
Diamond Naturals Dry Puppy Food is a puppy-specific dog food that has a high fat content to fuel active pups and a decent amount of protein to support their growing little muscles. It also has helpful eye and brain supplements that are crucial for a growing Chihuahua.
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9. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Dog Food
Best for Dogs with Kidney Problems: Premium quality protein source at just the right amount, perfect for dogs who need a low-protein diet
- Lower in protein for dogs who has kidney troubles
- High fat count which fuels active Chihuahuas
- Good quality ingredient list including antioxidant-rich foods
- No by-products or artificial ingredients that trigger food allergies
- Contains chicken
Chihuahuas are susceptible to diabetes and other kidney problems, and if your pooch has any of these, a low-protein diet comes highly recommended.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Dog Food is lower in protein but still retains a good fat count to give your pooch the energy he needs during the day, keeping your Chi active and healthy while reducing the amount of work their kidneys need to do to metabolize the nutrients.
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10. Royal Canin Chihuahua Dry Dog Food
Best Breed-Specific Diet: Dry Dog Food Formula that caters specific dietary requirements of a Chihuahua
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to keep joins tough and healthy
- Contains DHA and EPA, which are essential fatty acids for brain and vision support
- Naturally preserved dog food with mixed tocopherols and citric acid
- Contains ingredients that can be allergy-inducing (by-products, wheat)
- Slightly lower in protein and fats than some others
- The puppy formula doesn’t contain glucosamine or DHA
- Pricey considering the quality
While there are many foods aimed at small breeds or toy breeds, kibble created especially for Chihuahuas is rare to find. This breed-specific dry dog food takes into consideration the daily nutrient requirements of an average Chihuahua, and protects them from common health risks that they are susceptible to.
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Common Health Issues Chihuahuas Suffer From
An unfortunate side-effect of being the world’s tiniest pooch is that these guys and girls are fairly sensitive and come with some health conditions.
1) Food Allergies
Food allergies and intolerances are common in many dog breeds, and can also be developed over time. Chihuahuas are quite prone to allergies and can react badly to many different ingredients. This can vary quite a bit from dog to dog, so you’ll have to observe your pup eating for a bit to be able to come to conclusions about what they may be allergic to or intolerant of. The most common ingredients to be wary of are chicken, beef, dairy products, eggs, wheat, corn, and soy. Other less common but possible allergies include lamb and oats.
Chihuahuas are also very prone to obesity if owners don’t pay close attention to how much they are feeding them. Although they are quite high-energy and will burn off calories fairly easily if they’re constantly being fed more than they burn they can become a lot more round than lean. This is dangerous by itself, but it also increases the risk of other health conditions, such as joint problems, heart disease, diabetes, and general unhealthiness. Increasing your pup’s activity level is a good way to help combat this, but you will need to change their eating habits too, especially if they are older or less active due to illness or injury.
3) Dental Problems
Dental problems are what you’re most likely to come across if you’re a Chihuahua mom or dad. These fluffs have tiny mouths but normal-sized teeth, making it quite a tight squeeze in there. This can make eating dog food difficult, and opens them up to a host of dental issues, such as impacted teeth, tooth and jaw pain, and a terrible case of bad breath.
You’ll need to brush your Chi’s teeth regularly to remove tartar and make sure nothing is going wrong in there. If your pooch is reluctant to eat, this could be why, and a trip to the vet will be necessary. Heads up, we only recommend wet food as a treatment if it’s been suggested by a vet!
4) Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Although they are tiny, small breed dogs’ little joints are susceptible to dislocation. Patellar luxation (dislocating kneecap) and hip and elbow dysplasia happen with tiny pups, which is why a dose of glucosamine and chondroitin in their food is essential.
Diabetes is also a common Chi-problem. They’re prone to low blood sugar, which can be worsened if they’re eating a low-quality dog food that isn’t giving them the nutrients they need. Although switching over to one of the best dog food can help, this is a matter for the vet, as your pooch will most likely need medication to keep them on the healthy side.
Other things that can affect your toy breed include trouble birthing puppies (due to their size), tracheal collapse, and valvular disease (which can cause heart murmurs). Other things to be on the lookout for is excessive shivering (although this isn’t a health condition, it could be because your Chi gets cold easily due to their size and light coat), and injury (which is the leading cause of death in Chihuahuas, as they tend to forget how small they are and get very ambitious).
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas
1) Ingredient Quality
This is always a factor when it comes to choosing the best dog foods for your pooch. No matter the dog, their health concerns, their lifestyle, or their appetite, a high-quality, health-promoting dog food made from real, whole food ingredients is first prize.
We’ve analyzed the ingredient list of every food we’ve reviewed, and chosen only those that contain healthy, real food ingredients. Artificial ingredients (flavors, colors, and preservatives) are to be avoided at all costs.
Some dog food may contain gluten-free grains (as good as grain free), some will make use of fruits and vegetables, and all will have a quality protein source (whether real meat or meat meal). None of the dog foods on this list will contain low-quality, non-nutritional fillers, or chemical additives.
The best dog food for small dogs like Chis will also contain vitamins, minerals, and healthy probiotics.
This is the foundation of good health and nutrition for your pet – healthy, wholesome foods that will promote a healthy immune system.
2) Protein Count & Quality
Because these littlies can gain weight very quickly if they aren’t careful, the best dog food for Chihuahuas is high in protein. Their daily activity levels are usually pretty busy, so they’ll use the protein to sustain their energy levels. A high protein count also helps keep your pooch fuller for longer.
You’ll be looking for a high-quality animal protein on the top of the ingredient list. Animal protein far outweighs plant protein when it comes to being a healthy, well-rounded option, as it’s packed with essential amino acids that plant protein doesn’t contain.
The ideal amount of protein for a toy breed or small breed is 30% and upwards. While there’s nothing wrong with something a little lower, and some pups might require it, we recommend going with a higher protein choice.
We’ve tried to go with foods that contain real meat rather than meat meal, although if you do choose one with meat meal, it contains almost 4 times the amount of protein that whole meat does. It can also be pretty tough to find dog foods that don’t contain chicken, but if you have a Chi who is sensitive to poultry, check out this list of chicken-free dog foods, and if they don’t do well with potato, here are some options that avoid vegetables.
3) Omega Fatty Acids
There are a few reasons for a high fatty acid content being a great thing in the best food for small dogs like Chihuahuas.
These pint-sized toy breed fluffs are prone to food intolerances and allergies, and these can often affect the skin. Getting a good dose of these fatty acids in their dog food will keep your little one’s coat sleek and shiny, and their skin itch-free and well-nourished.
Fatty acids also provide plenty of energy, support good brain and heart health, and provide joint support and lubrication. Generally, the fat content and Omega fatty acid content are separate things on a guaranteed analysis list, and for good reason. The general fat content is what your pooch will draw upon for quickly metabolizable energy to get through their day. Omega fatty acids help for energy levels, but they are a group of different fats that have various purposes, as mentioned above.
While we have looked at the main fat content when choosing our best foods for Chihuahuas, this criteria refers specifically to the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which you will find lower down the guaranteed analysis list on the dog food packaging.
It includes glucosamine and chondroitin, which will likely be listed separately, and Omega-3 and Omega-6. We’ve based this rating on the levels you see on the label, and the quality of the sources they come from.
4) Kibble Size
If you have even a vague idea of what a Chihuahua looks like, you’ll know that their mouths are very tiny. Have you ever tried to eat something the same size as your mouth? It’s not as difficult for us, because we have utensils and thumbs, but a Chihuahua has nothing but their teeth and tongue to get the food to where they can chew it.
Pellet size is something many pet parents don’t think about until it actually becomes an issue. By that time, though, you most likely already have a grumpy pup and a bag of food that is still 85% full.
We’ve checked out the size of each dog food’s kibble here, to make sure it’s appropriate for toy breed Chihuahua-sized jaws and teeth. We’ve had a look at the companies’ claims about their kibble’s size, as well as customer reviews and comments about how the pellet size actually works for their pets.
Questions & Answers
What should I look for in a dog food for my Chihuahua?
Although all the best dog food shares common characteristics in terms of being healthy and digestible, there are some specifics that you should be considering when choosing a dog food for your Chihuahua in order to ensure that they get all they need.
There’s a myth out there that because little dogs need less food, they can also get by with less protein and fat in their kibble. This is definitely not so – tiny pups who expend plenty of energy actually need higher protein and fat counts than many bigger dogs do!
Your Chihuahua will thrive on a dry dog food that is moderate to high in calories (per pound of body weight), high in protein (30% plus), and high in fat (15 – 25%). If possible, you should go for a grain free option, although gluten-free grains like rice, sorghum, and oats are acceptable (this will vary by dog, though).
Once you’ve made sure the dog food you’re looking at has hit the above numbers, there are a couple of other additions you should check for. Omega fatty acids are very important for your pooch’s wellbeing and should be on the guaranteed analysis list in decent amounts. You may be surprised to learn that Chihuahuas’ joints need a little extra support, so glucosamine and chondroitin are essential to see on that list.
Antioxidants (often found in fruit and vegetable ingredients), fiber, vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and probiotics are also great, and although you may not find these on the actual guaranteed analysis list, you should be able to tell either by the quality of ingredients or on the dog food packaging.
Are there things that I should avoid when looking for a dog food?
Chihuahuas are, unfortunately, a sensitive breed, and tend to suffer from allergies and intolerances to certain ingredients in dog food. While this will differ from pup to pup, there are a few ingredients that should be avoided from the start, because they just don’t add any nutritional value, and can actually disrupt digestive processes and the body’s harmony.
The best dog foods for Chihuahuas will be free from artificial ingredients, because these ingredients contribute nothing in a nutritional sense. Synthetic preservatives include BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and ethoxyquin.
Artificial colors often include the color name, such as Red 40, and let’s be honest – do you think your dog really cares if their dog food is dirt-brown or more reddish? These are the fluffs who dig things out of the garden and chew on them, so they really aren’t going to care about aesthetics.
You can read a handy guide on how to make sense of dog food labels here, which will make it easier for you to figure out if you’re really feeding your pup the best dog food for them.
Chihuahuas also tend to prefer grain free dog food, or at least dog food with grains that don’t contain gluten. Some of them may be sensitive to certain other ingredients, such as chicken or lamb. You’ll need to pay attention to your own pooch and see how they react to their dog food, and if something seems off, it may be worth doing some experimenting to see which ingredients your pet likes and doesn’t like.
The best food for Chihuahuas is a generalization – you will need to find the best dog food for YOUR Chihuahua based on his or her appetite, preferences, and health.
We also recommend avoiding wet food and only feeding your Chi dry food. This is because wet food is high in calories and contributes to bad breath (which no Chihuahua owner needs). Dry food is more nutrient-dense and helps keep their teeth cleaner.
How much and how often should I feed my Chihuahua?
Dog foods usually come with a guide on the packaging as to how much food you should feed your pet based on their weight. This should not be taken as the be-all and end-all, though – your dog’s age, activity level, and health can make quite a difference to how much dog food you actually feed them.
It’s generally accepted that a Chihuahua puppy should eat about 50 calories per pound of body weight per day, and adults should eat 35 to 40 calories per pound per day. Keep in mind this is per day, not per meal, so once you have the daily number, you’ll need to divide that by the number of meals per day in order to get calories per meal.
Puppies under 4 months old should be fed 4 to 6 times a day, on a fairly strict schedule. Between 3 and 6 months, you can decrease it slowly to 3 or 4 times a day, and from 6 months you can decrease to either 2 or 3 times a day.
If your toy breed pooch suffers from hypoglycemia, it’s recommended to stick to 3 or 4 meals a day in order to keep their blood sugar up. While we understand that not all dog owners will be able to be around all day, free-feeding is not recommended as these dogs may be tiny but wow, can they eat. In most cases, free-feeding will only lead to obesity as they will scoff all the dog food in sight.
Remember to leave space for a couple of treats in between meals when calculating your pup’s daily calories!