One of the best ways to keep your Chihuahua healthy throughout their entire life is to feed them the correct amount of food to maintain a healthy weight.
Too much food can lead to obesity, which causes a whole bunch of health problems. On the other hand, not enough food can cause serious nutritional deficiencies (which cause other health problems).
Since Chihuahuas become overweight extremely easily due to their tiny body size, it’s vital to feed them the proper amount of food.
It’s more common for a Chihuahua to be overweight than underweight. The biggest cause of that is over feeding.
Part of the reason it is difficult to maintain a healthy weight on a Chihuahua, is because it is challenging to know how much food you should feed your Chihuahua each day.
This article is meant to be a general guide based on research and experience to help you determine how much your Chihuahua should be eating every day. However, we are not veterinarians. As such, we highly recommend consulting with your veterinarian before implementing any dramatic changes to your Chihuahua’s diet.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Adult Chihuahua?
First, determine your Chihuahua’s ideal weight.
In order to determine how much you should be feeding your adult Chihuahua, you first need to determine their ideal weight.
A standard Chihuahua (according to the American Kennel Club) will weigh anywhere from 3-6lbs. But, bear in mind, Chihuahuas (especially rescues) come in a variety of body types and sizes outside of the AKC standard, and as such, may exceed the breed weight as stipulated by AKC.
The best way to determine your Chihuahua’s ideal weight based on their individual body type is with this common veterinary weight chart by VCA Hospitals:
Notice that the body types from underweight to overweight all have characteristics that can be identified from viewing the dog from overhead and from the side!
Your Chihuahua should be fed an amount of food appropriate for their ideal weight.
Determining the ideal weight can be difficult if your Chihuahua is severely underweight or overweight but using the following basic “formula” along with the chart created by VCA Hospitals above, will give you a good starting place.
Note: again, for a more accurate estimate of ideal weight, consult with your veterinarian.
- Look at your dog’s ribs while they are standing up. Can you see more than the last rib or two sticking out?
- If you can’t see your Chihuahua’s ribs, try to feel them underneath the skin. Can you feel them but there is a slight to moderate fat covering? Can you not feel them unless you push hard? Or can you not feel them at all?
- Look at your Chihuahua from the side when they are standing up. Does their abdomen “tuck” up behind the ribs like a Greyhound (ie. chest is closer to the ground than the belly)? Or is their underside just one straight line from front to back (no tuck where their stomach is)?
- Look at your Chihuahua from above when they are standing up. Are their hip bones sticking out? Does your Chihuahua have a waist (hourglass shape)? Or is their body just one round cylinder with, essentially, parallel straight lines from front to back?
Your can guesstimate if your Chihuahua is over or under weight and adjust the volume of their food accordingly. Always consult with your veterinarian if you are not sure or if you feel it will require a drastic change.
- If your Chihuahua is classified as underweight, their ideal weight may be .5-3 lbs heavier than their current weight.
- If your Chihuahua is classified as overweight, their ideal weight may be .5-5 lbs less than their current weight (it’s more common for Chihuahuas to be severely overweight than underweight).
- Again, because Chihuahuas are small dogs, very small weight fluctuations can affect their ideal body weight. That is why the weight above/below your Chihuahua’s ideal body weight may be as low as .5lbs and as high as 5lbs (and, for some Chihuahuas, it may be even higher).
Estimate your Chihuahua’s ideal weight and go on to the next step.
It’s important to be completely honest with yourself about your Chihuahua’s current weight and their activity level so you can best decide how much food to be offering in order to achieve their ideal, healthy weight.
Second, check the recommendations for feeding amounts on the back of your Chihuahua’s food.
Another important factor in determining how much your Chihuahua should be eating every day is to check the amount recommended on the back of the package of their dog food.
Feeding charts on your dog’s package are another helpful guide. However, they’re not the whole guide! Remember, those recommendations do not generally take into account your Chihuahua’s current weight (do they need to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight), their age, their activity level, or other “snacks” you might give them each day.
Use your Chihuahua’s ideal weight (as estimated above in step one) when looking at the feeding-amount recommendations.
The amounts recommended on the feeding chart are how much you should be feeding over a 24 hour period.
Adult Chihuahuas should be eating two to three meals per day at minimum, so you can divide the suggested food amount by two. If your Chihuahua suffers from hypoglycemia or other food-related health issues, you may need to break the feeding times into even more meals.
Chihuahua puppies, on the other hand, should be consuming 3-4 meals per day so divide the daily recommended amount into equal portions for each meal.
Third, account for the variables in your Chihuahua’s life.
There are other factors to consider, of course, such as your Chihuahua’s activity level, age, and how many “snacks” you share with your Chihuahua throughout each day.
If your Chihuahua is highly active – walking or running at least an hour most days of the week – you may need to give them a little more food than is recommended on the chart on the back of their food (unless they need to lose weight).
If your Chihuahua is sedentary, or they are older and have a slower metabolism, you may need to feed your Chihuahua a little less food than recommended.
You’ll want to adjust your Chihuahua’s food intake based on their activity level and other factors.
If your Chihuahua is receiving treats or table scraps throughout the day, they will most likely need to eat a little less during breakfast and dinner.
Pay close attention to the caloric breakdown of the dog food you’ve chosen, as that will also be a deciding factor in how much to feed your Chihuahua. In other words, don’t always stick with the same amount if you change foods.
For example, if you’re previously determined that your Chihuahua needs 1/4 cup of food per meal, and you switch to dog food with a lower calorie density, double-check the feeding recommendations on the back of the package and adjust as necessary.
Personally, we guess as to whether we need to feed the recommended amount, a little less, or a little more, and adjust up or down as needed if we notice our Chihuahuas are getting a little too thin or chunky (using the criteria laid out in step 1). That means we closely monitor our Chihuahuas’ physical appearance and weight (using a household scale) so that we can make adjustments sooner rather than later if necessary to help them maintain a healthy weight.
How Much Should I Feed My Chihuahua Puppy?
Puppies need to be fed a larger amount of food more frequently than adults.
Puppies have more dietary needs than adults, as their bones and joints are developing.
Puppies have different dietary needs than adult dogs do due to growth and development.
Your Chihuahua puppy should be eating high-quality food with at least 22.5% protein content.
Not to mention, puppies have an especially fast metabolism, so they should be given 3-4 meals per day to start.
For Chihuahua puppies, follow this rough feeding guideline:
- 2 – 4 months old: 4 to 6 meals daily
- 4 – 6 months old: 3 to 5 meals daily
- 6 – 8 months old: 3 to 4 meals daily
- Over 8 months old: 2 to 3 meals daily
Like adult Chihuahuas, you should calculate the appropriate amount to feed based on your puppy’s age, weight, activity level, and how many training treats they are receiving each day.
Always err on the side of caution, however, as you don’t want your puppy to become overweight during their crucial developmental stage. Extra weight during puppy-hood can lead to a higher risk of obesity as an adult!
How Many Treats to Give Your Chihuahua
It’s incredibly difficult to resist those big hungry, begging eyes on your Chihuahua. Their manipulative tendencies get the best of people, but it’s really important that you don’t often give in.
Everyone in your house should be agreement with how many treats your Chihuahua gets a day. We recommend using your Chihuahuas food as a way to give treats too!
Treats should be reserved for rewards during training sessions (such as puppy basics like “come”, “sit”, and etcetera) or when your Chihuahua is on an outing getting some valuable socialization.
When you reward your Chihuahua for training or good behavior, you need to remember that you did so when it comes to meal time. Again, as a tip, you can always use your Chihuahua’s food for training! This really helps keep the calories to the correct amount each day.
It’s also a good idea to get your entire household on the same page when it comes to giving your Chihuahua table scraps and other delicious snacks as those are valuable treats and would best be used for training.
If someone in your home is offering your Chihuahua extra treats behind your back, your puppy may end up gaining weight without you realizing why.
Don’t forget, Chihuahuas are pros at begging, and they will try to convince everyone that they are absolutely starving.
You’ll need to subtract treat calories from your Chihuahua’s daily calorie maximum each day in order to keep them at a healthy weight. In other words, the more treats your Chihuahua gets through the day, the less food they should get at meal time.
If you feel guilty reducing the amount of food, switch a portion of it out for something that has very low calories like thawed-out carrots (make sure there is no sodium added to them).
If your Chihuahua gets treats during the day, make sure to subtract the caloric intake from their meals or, better yet, use their meals as treats.
Summary of How to Feed Your Chihuahua
In summary, the amount of food your Chihuahua should eat is determined by these factors:
- Current weight vs their Ideal, healthy weight
- Natural metabolism (sometimes more active dogs have slower metabolisms…just like people, they’re individuals!)
- Treat intake each day
- Activity level
- Other health concerns
The ideal goal is to feed your Chihuahua an amount of food that doesn’t cause them to gain or lose weight.
Again, Chihuahuas are prone to obesity, but you can do your part to keep your Chihuahua healthy.
Feeding the appropriate amount of food to your Chihuahua to keep them at an ideal weight is not only important for health (it’s been shown that being overweight can reduce a Chihuahua’s life span due to health-related complications), but carrying around excess weight can also lead to back problems, knee problems, and arthritis.
Remember, Chihuahuas are masters of begging. It’s up to you to know the appropriate amount of food they should be eating, and not give in to those adorable, begging eyes, to keep them at a healthy weight. We hope you are now confident you can figure out how much to feed your Chihuahua!