After reading about celebrities who pamper their Chihuahuas with dog mansions and cashmere sweaters, you may feel like a lousy paw-rent. You may decide to compensate by giving lots of delicious food to your Chihuahua.
However, you may worry about harming your chihuahua with too much or too little food and impede their proper development. Read on to learn about exactly how much should a chihuahua eat!
What should a chihuahua eat?
Before determining how much chihuahuas should eat, it’s normal to wonder what chihuahuas should eat in the first place. Chihuahuas should eat a complete, nutritionally balanced diet that is suitable for dogs. Paw-rents in the USA should look for an AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) statement on pet food packaging. An AAFCO statement indicates if a diet is “complete and balanced” for a particular life stage.
However, your Chihuahua’s ideal diet depends on his situation (e.g. medical history). Your Chihuahua should avoid certain foods if he has certain medical conditions. Therefore, please consult your veterinarian on the ideal diet for your Chihuahua!
How much should a chihuahua eat?
Many dog food brands have daily feeding guides on their packaging. However, the required amount for a particular chihuahua will depend on their situation (e.g. medical history, pregnancy status). Furthermore, the required amount will differ from the feeding guide if your Chihuahua is underweight, overweight, or obese. Here is a dog food calculator that provides customized feeding recommendations based on your dog’s weight, activity level, and whether you want your dog to maintain weight, gain weight, or lose weight. We always recommend asking your vet about the amount that your chihuahua should eat too as every dog’s situation is different!
How often should a chihuahua eat?
Puppies grow rapidly and burn lots of energy. Therefore, they require smaller, more frequent feedings than adult animals. Smaller meals are easier for puppies to digest. Furthermore, frequent feedings help them to maintain stable energy levels. In addition, toy breed puppies like Chihuahuas are vulnerable to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can be fatal! Frequent feedings reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. Please double-check the amount per meal with your vet! This will prevent you from overfeeding your Chihuahua.
Once chihuahua puppies are weaned, they should be fed four to six times a day until they are about three months old. When they are above three months old, it is recommended to feed them three to four meals a day. Adult chihuahuas (12 months and older) can be fed two to three meals a day. Learn more about when to switch to two meals a day for your puppy.
Do note that these recommendations are general, and may not apply to some Chihuahuas. For instance, adult Chihuahuas with sensitive tummies may have different feeding schedules. Therefore, consult your vet about the optimal feeding schedule for your Chihuahua.
What happens if I underfeed my chihuahua?
Underfeeding causes weight loss, low energy, and nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional deficiencies have devastating consequences (e.g. brittle bones). Underfeeding also weakens the immune system, making your chihuahua more vulnerable to serious infections.
What happens if I overfeed my chihuahua?
Weight gain is the result. Obesity has been associated with major diseases in dogs, including:
Studies show that overweight/obese dogs are 2.3 times more likely to develop arthritis. Increased weight burdens the joints. Furthermore, fat cells produce a hormone called “leptin” that increases joint inflammation. As a result, affected dogs often suffer from pain and lameness.
Excess fat pushes on the chest wall, making it harder for overweight/obese dogs to expand their lungs and breathe in enough oxygen. Furthermore, Chihuahuas are genetically prone to a condition called “collapsing windpipe”, which causes mild to severe airway blockage. Overweight/obese chihuahuas are more likely to develop collapsing windpipes!
Studies have found that obese dogs are at increased risk of breast cancer and bladder cancer.
Diabetes Mellitus (‘sugar diabetes’)
Research indicates an association between obesity and sugar diabetes in dogs, with one study stating that obese dogs were associated with 2.7 times the odds of being diagnosed with sugar diabetes.
Unsurprisingly, these health conditions can shorten the life expectancy of obese dogs. Research indicates that the lifespan of overweight dogs is up to 2.5 years shorter than those of dogs with healthy body weights.
Is obesity common in dogs?
A 2018 survey in the USA that ~56% of dogs were overweight or obese. Know what’s the scariest part? Another survey found that ~1/3 of paw-rents with overweight/obese dogs had deemed their dogs to have ideal weights. In other words, you could be unaware that your Chihuahua is overweight/obese! To avoid this situation, maintain regular vet visits as your vet is the best person to spot obesity in your Chihuahua.
You should feed your chihuahua the right amount of proper food, and at the correct frequency. Otherwise, you risk underfeeding or overfeeding your dog – with serious consequences. Vets are the best people to identify obesity in your Chihuahua and make personalized dietary recommendations.
What is considered obese for a Chihuahua?
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) recommends the Body Condition Score (BCS) tool for assessing obesity in pets. The higher the score, the fatter the dog! A BCS of 6-7 is considered overweight in dogs, with a score of 8-9 indicating obesity.
Why is my Chihuahua so fat?
Too much food and too little exercise are common causes of obesity in chihuahuas. Several medical conditions (e.g. fluid build-up from heart or liver failure, large tumors) also cause obesity. A vet should examine your chihuahua and treat any underlying medical conditions before they worsen.
How can I help my overweight Chihuahua?
You can help your overweight Chihuahua by reducing his weight…but how?
How can an obese Chihuahua lose weight?
Increasing exercise or reducing food intake can be dangerous if it worsens an underlying medical condition, so consult your vet to catch any underlying medical problems in your dog! Once that’s been sorted out, your chihuahua can start on a diet plan and/or exercise regime that your vet has approved.