These pocket-sized pooches are the smallest dog breed in the world, but if you’re a Chihuahua parent you know just how much personality can be packed into those tiny toy breed bodies.
Not only are they full of character, they tend to be quite bouncy little things as well.
Because of their high activity level, the best dog food for Chihuahuas is one that provides a good dollop of energy.
There are a few other boxes that need to be ticked when it comes to choosing the between dog foods for your Chi, but we’ve made sure everything on this list makes the cut when it comes to looking for the best dog food for small dogs.
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Dog Food For Chihuahuas
- Pupford Freeze-Dried Training Treats
- Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Dry Food
- Canidae Grain-Free PURE Real Limited Ingredient Recipes
- Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free With Raw Bites Recipe
- Wellness Core Grain-Free RawRev Adult Dry Dog Food
- Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Real Meat Recipe
- Orijen Senior Grain-Free High-Protein Dry Dog Food
- Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight Formula
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Dry Dog Food
- Royal Canin Chihuahua Breed-Specific Dry Dog Food
- Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation
- Questions & Answers
10 Best Dog Food For Chihuahuas
Pupford Freeze-Dried Training Treats
Best Treat for Chihuahuas
- Super low in calories, so they’re perfect for between your Chi’s meals
- Three flavors to choose from
- Very limited ingredient
- 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
Every dog needs a treat now and then, and these low-calorie, freeze-dried treatlets 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.
If you’re already feeding your toy breed the best dog food for Chihuahuas, a high-quality treat is an essential complement to their dry food.
click to see more
Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Dry Food
Best for Chihuahua Puppies
- High in both protein and fat for a growing Chihuahua puppy
- Contains DHA for developing healthy eyes and brain tissue
- Very affordable
- Contains superfood ingredients (blueberries, kelp, kale)
- Doesn’t contain glucosamine
- May not be suitable for puppies who have a poultry sensitivity
This kibble is Chi-puppy-perfect, containing a high fat count which the tiny breed needs, as well as a decent amount of protein to maintain their little muscles. It also has helpful eye and brain supplements for a growing Chihuahua, and is easy on the pocket, making it a win-win for both pup and parent.
This dog food is specifically formulated for small breed puppies. Although it doesn’t contain glucosamine, this is super easy to supplement separately with.
click to see more
Canidae Grain-Free PURE Real Limited Ingredient Recipes Dry Dog Food
Best Limited Ingredient Food
- 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, limited ingredient dog foods are great things. They allow for great nutrition while avoiding problem ingredients as well as ingredient interactions that may aggravate or induce allergies.
click to see more
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free With Raw Bites Recipe Dry Dog Food
Best For Active Chihuahuas
- 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 protein level is high on this food, which would make it suitable for a young Chi that is active and whose body will make use of all that protein.
click to see more
Wellness Core Grain Free RawRev Adult Dry Dog Food
- Recipe options available for puppies & overweight dogs
- High in protein and fats and grain free
- Contain glucosamine and chondroitin to keep joints tough
- Contains raw pieces for an extra healthy boost
- None of the Wellness Core flavors are poultry-free
- Somewhat pricey
The protein and fat counts in this grain free food from Wellness Core fall right into the zone for a dog food for Chihuahuas. It’s packed with healthy, wholesome ingredients that your little guy or girl will thrive on.
click to see more
Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Real Meat Recipe Dry Dog Food
Best Value For Money
- Extremely affordable
- Fantastic protein and fat levels for active Chihuahuas
- Contains good Omega levels & a great joint-strengthening level of glucosamine
- Contains L-carnitine
- Not suitable for dogs who are sensitive to poultry
It’s rare to find a dog food that is on the lower end of the price range but still contains upper-end nutritional value, but that’s exactly what we’ve got here.
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 all the supplements necessary to keep your Chi healthy and fit.
click to see more
Orijen Senior Grain Free High-Protein Dry Dog Food
Best for Chihuahua Seniors
- Remains 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 little things, so a senior dry food that still contains good protein and fat levels is fantastic. That’s what you’ll find in this food, and it’s perfect for your older but still energetic Chi.
click to see more
Merrick Grain Free Weight Formula Dry Dog Food
Best Weight Management
- 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 by their parents. If your Chi has gotten a little too heavy, you may want to consider a weight management food to get them back down to a weight that is appropriate for their size.
click to see more
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Dry Dog Food
- Lower in protein for dogs who need less of it
- Retains a high fat count despite being lower in protein
- Good quality ingredient list including antioxidant-rich foods
- No by-products or artificial ingredients
- Contains chicken
Because Chihuahuas are susceptible to diabetes and other kidney problems, they could be recommended a low-protein diet by a vet.
This food is lower in protein but still retains a good fat count to give your pooch the energy he or she 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.
click to see more
Royal Canin Chihuahua Breed-Specific Dry Dog Food
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
- Specially made kibble for mini mouths
- Contains DHA and EPA, which are specific, useful fatty acids
- Naturally preserved 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
If you want to feed your Chihuahua something that is specific to their breed, your options are somewhat limited. While there are many foods aimed at small breeds or toy breeds, kibble created especially for Chihuahuas is rare to find. This food from Royal Canin has been formulated with Chihuahuas in mind, although there are some question marks when it comes to quality.
click to see more
Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation
Criteria 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 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.
Criteria 2 – Protein Count & Quality
Because these littlies can gain weight very quickly if they aren’t careful, the best 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.
Criteria 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.
Criteria 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.
Criteria 5 – Affordability
Another great thing about these little fellows is that they eat significantly less than a big dog. You can buy a bag of dog food and it lasts a lot longer than a Labrador’s food would, which automatically makes it slightly more affordable to have a pocket-sized pooch.
Although that means that many Chihuahua parents are more free to buy slightly more expensive dog food, we understand that everyone’s budget is different. We’ve made our best attempt to cover all price ranges in this list, so there’ll be something healthy and affordable for pet parents of all financial situations.
Some of the foods reviewed here will be higher up the price spectrum, but they’re very worth the buy if you can afford them. Others, though, are closer in price to the lower quality foods, although we can vouch for them being top-notch in terms of health and quality.
We also have a Best Value For Money option, which is a super high-quality, healthy, packed-with-goodness dog food that is the most affordable for its caliber that you’ll find on the market.
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 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 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), 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 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 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!
What health conditions affect Chihuahuas?
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.
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.
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!
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 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).