Choosing The Right Dog Food For a Chihuahua

Choosing a dog food for your Chihuahua isn't a decision that should be made lightly. Like all dogs, Chihuahuas have very specific nutritional needs that must be met through proper dieting. Unfortunately, most of the dog foods sold in pet stores and grocery stores fail to provide enough nutrients for healthy growth and development. While they may provide your Chihuahua a "full" belly, they don't offer the right balance of nutrients and minerals. If you're wondering what the best type of dog food is for a Chihuahua, keep reading.

Chihuahua Dog Food

Chihuahua Dog Food

Why The Right Dog Food Is Important For a Chihuahua

Many owners overlook the importance of a premium dog food for their Chihuahua. As you can expect, a good brand of dog food is naturally going to cost more money, which is why some owners opt to go with the cheaper types. The problem in doing so, however, is that cheap, low-quality dog food opens up your Chihuahua to a whole world of new health problems. You might save a couple dollars by feeding your Chihuahua a low-quality dog food, but you'll likely end up paying more in the long run for vet visits and healthcare.

Here are some of the most common side effects associated with feeding a Chihuahua the wrong dog food:

  • Coat loses some of its color and sheen.
  • May suffer from tooth decay, tooth loss or other oral problems.
  • Weakened immune system leaves them more susceptible to disease.
  • Stunts their growth and development, causing them to grow at a slower pace than normal.
  • Leads to obesity and canine diabetes.
  • Increases the chance of food allergies.
  • May contain potentially life-threatening strains of food borne-illness, such as salmonella.


What To AVOID When Choosing Dog Food For Your Chihuahua

There are some common mistakes owners make when choosing dog food for their Chihuahua, one of which is placing their trust in brands sold at the grocery store. This can undoubtedly be confusing given the fact that some of these brands are labeled premium, but you have to carefully inspect any food you're thinking of purchasing and feeding to your Chihuahua. Even some of these so-called "premium" dog foods are loaded down with junk ingredients and filler products that offer little-to-no nutritional value when consumed. Does this mean that ALL premium dog foods sold in grocery stores are poor choices that should be avoided? Not necessarily, but you need to be cautious and not risk your Chihuahua's health based on the package labeling alone. Don't worry, we'll reveal what a good Chihuahua dog food needs to contain in a bit.

Another common mistake owners make is following the advice of their veterinarian. There are some ethical vets out there who enjoy helping people and the pets brought into their office, but there are others who are simply in the business to make money. If a vet recommends feeding your Chihuahua a type of dog food sold on their office premises, it's almost certain that they are getting a commission for the sale. I recommend that you politely turn down a veterinarian's offer to sell you dog food if it's available in their office, and instead look for a type elsewhere.

Here are some of the ingredients that should be kept to a minimum in a dog food for your Chihuahua:

  • Food dyes.
  • Preservatives.
  • Filler products, such as corn and low-quality grains.
  • Corn gluten.
  • Wheat gluten.
  • Sugar.
  • Corn syrup.
  • Animal fat.
Cooked Chicken

Cooked Chicken

Things To Look For In Chihuahua Dog Food

Now that you know what to avoid in a dog food for your Chihuahua, let's take a look at some of the beneficial ingredients that you should look for. As previously stated, most of the "premium" dog foods gold in grocery stores are actually poor choices that don't offer the right balance of meat, vegetables and overall nutrition; therefore, they should be avoided. Instead, take a look at the dog food products sold in pet stores around your area. If there aren't any good choices here, you can always order your Chihuahua's food online, but you'll probably have to pay to have it shipped. Of course this is a small price to pay for your Chihuahua's health and well being.

The number one ingredient that dog food for your Chihuahua should contain is meat. Whether it's chicken, beef, fish or lamb, the dog food needs to have roughly a 40% meat content; otherwise, it's not going to offer enough protein to meet their needs. It might be hard to determine exactly how much meat a bag of dog food has, but you can read the ingredients label to get an idea. I like to see meat products listed in at least 3 of the top 5 ingredients, as this is a sign it's made with a substantial amount of meat.

The second most important ingredient a dog food needs to contain are vegetables. This is essentially where your Chihuahua will get the majority of their beneficial vitamins and minerals, so you'll want to choose a dog food with a good balance of vegetables and meat. Look for the more healthy vegetables labeled on the ingredients, such as carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini and broccoli. Regular potatoes are considered filler ingredients and should be avoided. These healthy vegetables should make up roughly 40% of the ingredients in a dog food as well. The remaining 20% should consist of starches like pastas.

Here's a short list of high-quality premium dog foods that are great choices to feed a Chihuahua:

  • Artemis Fresh Mix
  • Blue Buffalo
  • California Natural
  • Canidae
  • EVO
  • Innova
  • Nature's Variety
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Timberwolf Organics
  • Wellness


68 Responses to “Choosing The Right Dog Food For a Chihuahua”

  1. Dennis says:

    Is NuTro a good food for Chihuahua?

    • Hey Dennis,

      The original formula for Nutro was an excellent choice of food for a Chihuahua; however, the company changed their formula in 2012, and since then the complains have skyrocketed. There are literally over a thousand complaints about Nutro posted While some owners continue to feed their dogs Nutro without suffering from any ill effects, personally I would avoid it, especially for a small Chihuahua. Hope that helps and best of luck to you and your Chihuahua!

  2. veni says:

    also, watch out for meat by-products. dogs cannot digest that. if you will not eat it then dont feed it to your dog. i saw another site saying that apples are bad, wrong. apples are healthy for all dogs but do not give the core. the core containing seeds is toxic, remove the core and fill it with peanut butter is a healthy and taste treat (ofc a bit too big forchihuahuas)

  3. Amy says:

    Purina puppy chow? Is this an unhealthy choice? My chi has eaten it for two years should I change it?

  4. Lisa says:

    Im wandering the same thing …Purina puppy chow ..thats what I’m feeding mine. Is it good for him?

  5. stephanie says:

    I have been feeding my chihuahua 4health. Is that a good quality brand? If it is I won’t switch him, but if its not of the quality I’m looking for I want to switch him to a brand you have listed on this web page. Thank you!

    • Hey Stephanie,

      4Health looks like a pretty good brand of food for Chihuahuas. Some of its primary ingredients are chicken, chicken meal, cracked pearled barley and millet. I wouldn’t switch food unless your Chihuahua is showing signs of allergies, malnutrition, digestive issues, or hair loss.

      • trica says:

        I just read online its best to cook the food yourself. The article said brocolli,chicken, (hearts and live) and carrots. The whole think cost me 3.65. I cooked it with2 garlic cloves n my pressure cooker for 20min and wala! Have enough for serval days, plus I know what is going into her little body. She loves the food.

        • Abby says:

          Isn’t garlic bad for dogs ? I saw that many times on list of food bad/dangerous for dogs. I avoid it !

        • Marie says:

          Garlic should never be used in their food, nor onions. Go online and find out the “top” things you should never feed your dog. I know some are: garlic, onions, grapes & chocolate. I am sure there may be others too.

        • sherrie says:

          Garlic is a huge nono. Along with onions,chocolate,avacado,beer or liquor,coffee tea cocoa,grape macadamia nuts or products containing it (can be fatal like chocolate),candy,gum,and as much as they love us for it fat and table scrapes like bones, fat is just plain bad and bones can splinter and puncture the bowel thus killing the dog,they can also break teeth and cut gums,persimmons peaches and plums have a pit that contains cyanide, the dog dosn’t know nit to eat that like we do and it’s highly toxic should the dog consume the pit,raw egge, raw meat or fish,salt,sugar,yeast dough breads,and human meds. This list is pretty good roundup of what not to feed our fur babies, also they love ice cream but dogs can’t process milk products and can have bad intestinal issues from it. I cook for my little guy but omit all salt,pepper and garlic, I put a dab of poultry seasoning in for flavor. Good luck with your baby.

          • Don says:

            I don’t agree on the raw meat and bones that you said you should not feed your pet. Cooked bones are not good for them, however raw bones should pose little to no risk to them. I have been feeding my two Chihuahuas a diet consisting mostly of raw chicken legs and thighs for more than a year now. They love it, and they eat it all including the bones. It closely mimics the diet that nature would have provided them as they are carnivores by nature. Their coats are in the best possible health, they are full of energy, and their teeth/gums are in excellent health. I don’t knock those that choose not to feed raw as long as they put some thought into the food they choose, but the health benefits of raw are well worth the extra work it takes me each week to prep chicken. I typically buy a 10lb bag of quarters, cut the legs off and split the thighs in two. I bag them and freeze them. I put one in the fridge and each night when I feed them I pull one from the freezer and put it in the fridge. It’s thawed by the next night.

        • Joyce Gale Snawder says:

          No No Garlic bad for dogs !!!!

    • Donna says:

      I have a 3 year old Chi which has been eating the little Ceasars hard dog food since she was a pup. My vet suggested taking her off this and getting her to eat ” their food” I ve had 3 different bags of food from he vets and all she does is picks it out and leaves it at the side of her dish. I m from Canada and a lot of he products mentioned are States brands . Can you offer suggestions for Canadian brands?
      Also wondering about treats…. I ve been making jerky for her which she loves, but I d like harder smaller treats for her. Any suggestions?

  6. Daniel says:

    Hi there I have 3 chihuahuas I feed the royal canin adult chihuahua specific breed
    they’ve been on this for a year now and are fit aand healthy I was wondering what’s your thoughts on this food also 2 them seem to have gone off it any suggestions
    Kind regards

    • Toby says:

      From a former Royal Canine rep that works at my local pet store. Royal Canine is among the worst foods for dogs. The only thing breed specific is the bag its in. If you run out of Chi food you could feed the Lab food or the Boxer or the Bulldog food. Just the kibble is shaped differently. We had our Chi and bulldog on that food and all the vet saw in it’s stools was undigested corn. That’s what that food is mostly made of. Find a food that has mainly meat in it as the article reads. RC is not it.

  7. gary says:

    hi, my to chi’s only eat meat that i eat,mostly chicken and beef although they do eat their doggy biscuits. i’ve
    tried the premium(uk) but they dont go near it. should i just persevere with the dog meat? cheers

  8. MALA says:

    I am the new owner of Chihuahua. I find difficulties make him to eat. After consult from the PET Shop I bought a food but he refuse to eat it. I am not sure what to do. He eats some foods once only. After that he refuse to eat it. Please help.

  9. Sandra says:

    I have a six-year-old Chi and he’s always been finicky. He mainly eats Blue Buffalo for small breed, but sometimes he won’t eat that. I have two large dogs as well. Sometimes I’ll boil chicken and roast a beef heart and add to the boiled chicken, then add regular store brand oatmeal, carrots, sweet potato and whatever else I know is safe to give dogs, then I use my hand blender to blend to rough “goo.” I safe to-go containers, and fill them with this home cooked mix and it typically makes about 18-20 per batch. I freeze most of them and leave a couple in the fridge. I mix this with his Blue Buffalo and sometimes he eats it better, sometimes he licks all around the dry dog food and only eats the good stuff. It’s a constant battle, but I do enjoy seeing him eat well when he does.

  10. Sandra says:

    Often I’ll read the ingredient list of the premium dog food brands, then make my homemade food mimicking those ingredients. I’ll buy Pedigree in the HUGE bags for my big dogs, then buy premium dog food brands as they are on sale, and create a blend always with the cheaper dog food as the base, then dollop homemade food on top. This makes it more economical to feed the big dogs, and they are thriving on it. So the homemade food satisfies both the chihuahua and the big dogs.

  11. Michelle says:

    Hi,my moms boss is willing to give me his chihuahua,I don’t know what foods he feeds him but if they were not the right brands.will he still eat the good brand food when I give it to him?

  12. Deuce says:

    Petsmart is the best place to purchased food. They are not on a commission for dog food, so their advice is genuine! I was pleased to read that Blue Buffalo is one of the premium choices, because that’s what I buy. Deuce is now on the Wilderness Brand-Rabbit. He is loving it, along with his doggie treats. By the way, is peanut butter flavored treats ok?

    Sista T

  13. peter says:

    Is k9 natural ok for my chihuahua?

  14. Layla says:

    Hi, I am a new chihuahua owner. And i was feeding him Purina puppy chow, I went into a local pet shop and a lady there was telling me about this dog food called “Earthborn Holistic” she said it was a natural food for dogs. I am just really unsure on what to feed him, I dont want to pay for a good thats not good for him.

    • Mary says:

      Please don’t feed Purina. Check the ingredients. There are some great foods out for small breeds but you cannot buy them at most grocery stores. You will need to go to a specialty dog/pet store. Wellness and Solid Gold have food for small breeds. I personally feed my Chihuahuas Darwin’s raw food – the get Duck and the organic version. They do not get kibble. Treats are typically Orijen Dehydrated duck or for classes they get string cheese/chicken or other protein cut into very small pieces as they are very small dogs.

  15. sharron says:

    Hi – i have a 5 yr old yorkie/chihuahua – been fighting with her for the past 4 yrs to eat dry food – i have bought just about every brand of high end dry made by man to no avail – have mixed canned food with the dry – still won’t eat it – have given up on the dry and now she eats wet and yes i do brush her teeth

    • Mary says:

      try Weruva if you can afford it – Amazon carries it. I feed my cat Weruva. All of my dogs are on Darwin’s Raw food. My G Shep mix also gets kibble – usually Orijen though the last bag I bought from Costco is Nature’s Domain which I was told is made by Taste of the Wild (now not sure it is the same recipe and will change back).

  16. Nikniik says:

    Is it normal or okay if my pet is experiencing hair loss?

    • Julie says:

      My chi experienced hair loss after I switched his food to accomodate our terrier mix as she ate more than he does. After about 3 months of eating Iams Natural he started losing his hair. The vet told me he probably had a food allergy. I switched him back to Science Diet and his hair grew back.

  17. Lori says:

    I just got a 1yr old chi and have never owned a small dog before so I have no idea what food to buy for him. I have always had big dogs so I have always bought Pedigree for them. I just purchased Pedigree for small breed dogs, is this ok?

  18. Steph says:

    I’ve been feeding my chi royal canin for chi’s. How great is that? Should I change it? Can my chi eat dog food that isn’t specified chi only

  19. kim says:

    what is the best food for 6months male chihuahua?

  20. christine says:

    My two chihuahuas eat royal canine made for chihuahuas. Is this a good choice?

  21. Laurie says:

    Hi! I just wanted to add what I’ve found to be extremely important. I’ve learned, from owning dogs diagnosed with epilepsy, that many dogs are allergic to rosemary. The result is seizures. Most high quality foods use it as a natural preservative. When I found that Taste of the Wild was free of rosemary, all my “epileptic” dogs have been COMPLETELY seizure free for 5 years now! In fact, when hubby gave them randomly purchased “healthy” treats, a seizure would follow.

  22. Julie says:

    I have a 9 year old, 5lb. chi named Champ. He has already lost his front teeth but has his canines due to periodontal disease. They judt fell out last year while his vet was cleaning his teeth. I have fed him Science Diet ever since he was a puppy with the exception for 3 months. I have a 6 year old terrier mix and I cannot keep them from eating out of each others bowls. I am wondering if Science Diet really is best for him since he is getting older?

    • Mary says:

      Have you read the ingredients on science diet food. Most I have read have corn in them which is not good. I would not feed my dogs Iams, Eukanuba or Science Diet. I used to, but then I educated myself with help from others including my holistic vet after my oldest dog Maxine RIP was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. I now advocate for a raw diet, or something like Orijen.

    • Eileen Rios says:

      I have raised many. Let me tell u science diet is not good.. Switch to blue buffalo slowly. Ur dog will be happy and so will u…

      • Melissa says:

        I’m looking for a good food to feed my 10 month old chihuahua. He’s picky and will get into my cats science diet food. I currently feed royal canin. I have read here that it isn’t a good choice. I see that blue buffalo is a good choice. I did the puppy version of that with the life bits in it and he didnt like it. Which one would be a good choice? He has lost weight due to not eating much. I’d like him to gain some of the weight back at a healthy rate. Can someone help me out?

  23. Mary-Jo says:

    Hi, I have a 9 1/2 month long coat chi female. I changed her food recently from blue buffalo freedom red meat to blue buffalo healthy weight because she is very small and has a tendency to put on weight. I only feed her a little less than a 1/4 cup in the morning and the same in the early evening and she still puts on weight. I noticed that she has started to lose her hair about a month after I changed her food and was wondering if this is due to the low fat content in the food- 9% minimum. I want to add wholeistic wild salmon oil to her diet to raise the fat content, but wondering if this will also cause her to put weight on. Any thoughts?

    • Mary says:

      I am not sure why losing hair – could be allergy? I had to go to a dermatologist for my Bambi and she is allergic to everything including people and cats. Lucky me. She is now on apoquel and a sublingual which is helping and her hair is slowly growing back. I did not realize that steroids would inhibit hair regrowth and prior to seeing he dermatologist we had used a steroid for her itchiness. I do give my guys Noridic’s cod liver oil. Our Seattle Super Supplements stores carry it for pets. My western vet uses the same brand for herself. She said they test the fish for mercury. It was recommended by my holistic vet. Everyone comments on how soft my fur kids coats are.

  24. Toby says:

    There is no such food as Chi food. I posted above about Royal Canine. It’s a corn based food and the only thing breed specific is the bag. Find something that is meat based.

  25. paula says:

    I feed my chihuahua castor and pollux and he absolutely loves it♡

  26. Jenni says:

    Our 5 yr. old chi eats wet cat food mixed with Kimbles & bits dry food and she loves it and its the only thing Nessie will eat.

  27. Gea says:

    Hi, I feed my 6year old chihuahua Eukanuba which apperantly is
    Made for chihuahua especially but it contains gauranteed
    Levels of glucosamine and chondroitin what is that and
    Does it cause any harm I want to know if that’s
    A good choice because, I care so much about
    His health, also his skin has been darkening and
    It’s not the pretty pink it used to be years back
    But I shower him regularly and moisturize his skin as
    Well, is there any vitamins that I should be aware
    Of like fish oil and such to help with this problem thank you

  28. sharron says:

    so what is wrong with royal canin – my yorkie/chihuahua won’t touch most of the foods that are rated 4 and 5 star and i’m getting fed up with pet store owners and associates shoving high calorie, high protein, high fat dry foods at me – she’s just as healthy eating royal canin as the dog that eats orijen

  29. Andy says:

    New to having a chihuahua, going from Cheap food to name brand food that i think would work for him, but i think he’s having trouble adjusting and not eating well, He has been trying to eat cat food and i get on him about it when I see him near their bowls.. he has his own and i show/tell him that but he just sniffs and walks away.

    I also brought some wet food for dogs, chicken kind and give him a little on each morning. Is that good? or something I should steer away from..
    I went this route so I could be sure that he’s eating something..

    I have him currently on dog chow/little bites PURINA, but need suggestion on something else..


    My main store source would be Petsmart, Meijer, Walmart if any food suggestion would come..

  30. Andy says:

    The wet food I have been getting are. Beneful Chopped Blends, Purina brand as well. $1.68 @ walmart compared to $2.19 @ krogers

  31. Joan says:

    Well I just rescued a Chihuahua and so glad I read
    all your posts as I did not know what to feed her,
    though I was hearing to go healthy with the vegetables
    and meat so that is what I will do. No commercial food
    for her. It is horrible what is in the dog food at
    the grocery stores and if you have ever read how they
    make it, it would turn your stomach. So lets all go
    healthy for our little chi’s and it is good for us
    humans too!!!

  32. Patricia B says:

    I have a 2 year old and a 6m old Chihuahua and they have brought me the most happiness! I feed them Amicus Grain Free it has all the above nutrients listed and more…they love it! I was giving them Blue and they wouldn’t eat the antioxidants they put in it so I switched and they seem to like this much better. I get all my products from the have the best treats for my babies…I recently started giving them dried beef lungs as treats. I hope these are okay as I haven’t read anything to the contrary. ..thanks so much for your info.

  33. Antoinette says:

    Thanks everyone you guys were very helpful.

  34. chris says:

    Hi I;m getting new puppy and I don:t know how feed him

  35. Heidi says:

    My chihuahua / dachshund and my chihuahua / pug both love Fromm, and I’ve heard all really great things. Is this a good one?

  36. Angela Henderson says:

    Is sport mix good for my 14 yr old Chihuahua

  37. Angie says:

    I was feeding my chi’s Purina One Beyond Lamb formula and they loved it and were doing great, then they changed he formula and now… they have an allergy, don’t buy the new formula for your chi, unless you want itchy and scratchy!

  38. Adam says:

    Is Pedigree good for chihuahuas?

  39. Daddy C says:

    Ive noticed over the years those of my friends who act as personal chefs for their dogs stating they need particular diets and custom cooked foods seem to have very Un-healthy animals. Just an observation.

    I know Hills Science Diet does not seem to be on anyones list of great dog foods. However my male chi is 7 years old, very happy, weighs about 9 lbs, lean and muscular, has never had any poor health issues, good stool, full of energy, good coat, never a picky eater. Ive always felt if any dog is hungry enough he will eat anything placed in a bowl anyway so I started him as a pup on dry kibbles. He is presently on Hills Science Diet Small Bites Advanced Fitness for quite a long time now. Costs me about $ 12 a month to feed him with a 5 lb bag. Maybe I’m just lucky.

  40. jk says:

    Hi I have just got a chi like a month ago. And have been feeding her oedigree, is that a good thing to feed her? I’m willing to pay more cash for her to stay healthy. And one more question, how would I get rid of her tear drop stains?

  41. jk says:


  42. Ann says:

    Hi, I have 3 chi. 2 adults and one baby who is 2 months. I feed them Beneful. Is this a good brand? Should I change?

  43. Felicia says:

    I have a two year old chihauahua who is not only tremendously picky, she suffers from allergies and because of this there are many different types of foods that she cannot eat. After being advised by our vet numerous times to switch her food to several different brands because none of them worked, my husband and I decided to start cooking her food ourselves. Because we have a total of two puppies (min pinscher, 1 year) both of them would now be going to “regular” food. Both of our puppie now eat a combination of bonless chicken breast, lean turkey, lamb, sweet potatoes, rice, a variety of fresh vegetables and eggs. I do add or put anything additional in their food such as seasoning, butter, etc. They still enjoy regular doggie treats, but we only give them the all natural beef or chicken jerkey treats. Since doing this, I have noticed a tremendous change in our dogs coats, our chihauahua use to scratch so much that she could hardly go fo a walk without stopping every 2 seconds. She doesn’t do that anymore, and I am no longer having to give her benadryl daily. I know that everyone doesn’t believe in giving their dogs “real” food, but it’s whatever works for you, they are your babies!

  44. Robert says:

    I have a 13 yr old chi, he has bad skin allergies, and is overweight, I started feeding him natures variety instinct, grain free limited ingredient lamb & pease formula, I switch to this because I think he is allergic to either chicken or grains. He’s not scratching no more and wondering is instinct limited, has the right balance of nutrients and vitamins for long term use?

  45. jessica says:

    I have been feeding my Chihuahua science diet for a year now is that a healthy choice or should I switch

  46. Jen says:

    Is natural balance good for chihuahuas?

  47. Ofelia says:

    How funny I thought it was just my dog that was sooo picky!! It sounds like a lot of Chuahuas are huh? And someone wrote about giving their dog cat food? I don’t give my dog cat food but she sure sneaks it from my cat lol! She’s so picky I just let her eat it now. She mostly just eats with me. I Also gave up on trying different dry dog foods….waste of money! Omg she’s sooo picky I love her tho! My first dog she’s 2.9 pounds one year five mo.

  48. Diana Bento says:

    I have a chihuahua 2 yr old losing hair spoty places here and ther,she is tri color, energetic and fun to have ,need ideas on what to feed her or vitamins to give her, help please need info diana

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