How To Help an Obese Chihuahua Lose Weight

Many owners brush off their Chihuahua's obesity as a non-concerning issue that doesn't pose a real threat. In addition, there are even some people that laugh or poke fun at their weight problem. The fact is, however, that that obesity is just as dangerous to canines as it is to us. It can lead to heart disease, diabetes (yes, Chihuahuas can become diabetic too), premature wearing of the joints, arthritis, and it lowers their overall life expectancy. If you believe your Chihuahua is obese or on the verge of becoming obese, you need to take the necessary action to get them back to a healthy weight.

While the exact number is unknown, some studies suggest that as much as 40% of all pet dogs in the U.S. are overweight. This number is certainly shocking, but what's even more alarming is the fact that over half of their owners didn't even notice a problem. If you want your Chihuahua, or any other type of dog for that matter, to live a long and healthy life, you must keep an eye on their weight and make the necessary adjustments when required.

Chihuahua Eating People Food

Chihuahua Eating People Food

First and foremost, you must identify IF your Chihuahua actually has a weight problem or if they are just big-boned. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) standards, Chihuahuas should weigh less than 6 pounds. Of course this is just a general rule of thumb to follow and isn't a 100% accurate way of determining if your Chihuahua is overweight. A more practical approach is to take your hands and gently rub them along the sides of your Chihuahua's ribcage. If you're unable to noticeably feel the bones because of excess fat and tissue, then you you they are overweight.

Why Obesity is Dangerous For Chihuahuas

If more owners took their Chihuahuas weight and overall health more seriously, obesity wouldn't be such a problem. Unfortunately, far too many owners either overlook their Chihuahua's weight problem or choose to ignore it. Either way, it opens up a whole new world of numerous health issues that places your Chihuahuas well-being at risk.

Here are some of the main problems associated with obese/overweight Chihuahuas:

  • The extra weight places excessive pressure around their joints and bones, which in turn may cause them to develop arthritis at an early age. Obese Chihuahuas are at risk for developing a number of bone and joint problems, all of which can lower their quality of life.
  • Significantly increases their risk of developing Type II Diabetes (mellitus) as a result of the body's need for more insulin. In some cases, diabetes may require your Chihuahua to receive daily insulin injections just to keep up with their body's demand; otherwise, it can cause their body to go into shock.
  • Back and spinal problems are yet another issue that's commonly associated with obese Chihuahuas. When they put on more weight than their body can handle, it weighs down the sensitive areas on their back. This may cause their spinal discs to slip, bones to fracture or ligaments to tear.
  • Obese Chihuahuas are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure (AKA hypertension), and this is just as dangerous to them as it is to us. High blood pressure places a greater strain on all of the organs and tissue inside the body, which increases the chance or organ failure and numerous diseases.
  • Arguably the greatest risk that comes from a Chihuahua being overweight is heart disease. The extra fat and tissue inside their body forces the heart to pump extra blood so it can reach the vital organs. Combined with the extra pressure placed on the organs, there's an overall greater risk at developing heart disease.
Chihuahua Table Food

Chihuahua Table Food

Stop Feeding Table Food!

If you were on a fly on the wall at house with an overweight Chihuahua, you would probably see their owners frequently feeding them table food. Whether it's straight from the dinner table or just eating a snack in the living room, Chihuahuas are oftentimes fed leftovers that owners don't want to throw away. After all, it's nearly impossible to deny them with those sad begging eyes looking patiently up at you. However, the problem in doing so is that it leads to obesity much faster than eating dog food alone.

It may only be a piece of chicken here or a burger scrap there, but those little pieces can slowly add up and take a toll on your Chihuahua's health. You have to remember that a Chihuahua's digestive system isn't meant to process most of the food we eat. In fact, the only table food that's acceptable to feed them is boneless, skinless chicken breast, and even that should be given as an "occasional" treat.

In addition to their bodies not being able to process it properly, feeding a Chihuahua table food can also be quite dangerous. We talk a little bit about common foods that are dangerous to Chihuahuas here, and some of the ones on the list may shock you. While most owners are aware of the threat chocolate poses, things like garlic, grapes and onions can be equally as deadly. Check out the link previously mentioned for a list of some of the most common table foods that pose a danger to a Chihuahua's health.

Obese Chihuahua

Obese Chihuahua

Increase Their Activity Levels

It should come as no surprise that exercise and increasing your Chihuahua's overall activity levels can help them lose weight. Because of their small size, many owners overlook or simply underestimate the exercise needs of their Chihuahuas. They assume that keeping them locked up in a small house or apartment only to take them outside to use the bathroom is acceptable when it's not. Like all dogs, Chihuahuas need plenty of time each day to run around and play. If you don't give it to them, their muscles will shrink, bones will become weaker, and they will naturally gain more weight.

Overheating and over-exhaustion is something that you need to be aware of when allowing an obese Chihuahua to exercise. If they are overweight and their bodies aren't used to the proper exercise, they may run themselves tired. Keep exercise sessions short at first and then gradually increase the amount of time you allow them to stay outside. And as always, never leave your Chihuahua to play outside unattended, as there are simply too many potential dangers that can harm them.


34 Responses to “How To Help an Obese Chihuahua Lose Weight”

  1. joey says:

    I just laugh and laugh when i hear the term ‘people food’ which was invented by the dog food industry to shame people into buying special food for their dogs. the little nuggets we feed our dogs are the equivalent of fast food for dogs. kibble does not occur in nature. in fact if you just think about it for 2 minutes, kibble is by definition ‘people food’. not that you shouldnt feed your dogs kibble. its just interesting to me how well the dog food industry has done in propagating that myth of ‘people food’ being bad for dogs. a far better approach would be to say if it doesnt grow or walk at some point, neither you or your dog should eat it because its ‘corporate food’.

  2. Robert says:

    Papper, my pet chihuahua used to weigh 11.6 lbs and she was a fatty. After walking down a 15ft hallway, she would be breathing very heavy, sometimes begin a congestive cough as well. She was extremely overweight and getting worse, so I decided to change her diet.
    We were feeding her Beneful brand dog food; we replaced this food with a glorious mixture of peas/carrots mixed with brown rice and grilled chicken breast. She instantly began dropping weight at 0.2lbs per week. Fast forward a year and a half, we have stabilized her diet, still feeding her the same food, and she now weighs 7.6lbs, down from 11.6lbs (she has lost 34% of her body weight).

    I cannot describe enough how much this has changed her entire life, she no longer gets tired walking down a hallway; she runs around, no more hack-coughing, she is a bundle of energy that had been missing, she does things physically that she hasn’t done in a long time, the ‘love of life’ look that is in her eyes is absolutely undeniable. Getting my dog to drop pounds is one of the greatest things we have ever done for our dog, I sincerely believe it has prolonged her life, and provided a much better quality of life for her.

    • Madelyne Raymond says:

      I want to try your peas and carrots meals for my Oreo. She is getting huge. It is my fault I feed her everything! So what amounts do you feed? How many times a day and will it spoil if you make a week’s worth. Help needed soon. 😀

  3. Kim says:

    I have an 11lb standard Chihuahua. The vet said her weight is perfect for her. I say this because there are different kinds of Chihuahuas and not all should be 6lbs. My little girl would be skin and bone if she was that small.

  4. Joanie says:

    Mine is about four pounds overweight. she gained a lot of weight when our older dog (who has passed) was still alive, he would walk away from his food a lot and she would sneak over to it and eat it all. we found out she was doing this after we installed a “doggie cam”. everyone at the park points and laughs at her. I think it’s so rude! it makes me want to point and laugh at them. we have her on some weight loss food and bring her into the vet every month to get weighed. it’s been a long road as she’s only lost 1.5 pounds in five months. it’s very discouraging and especially since i have a husband who will feed her too much still. so frustrating!

    • Kimberly says:

      I have an overweight chihuahua and it is mostly that I feel like she feels denied and I don’t want her to be unhappy. I need to be stronger for her sake. She’s gained a significant amount of weight since our lab passed away and she constantly steals the cat’s wet food. I guess caring enough to suffer through what is probably my issues not so much her’s and get her healthy again.
      Don’t let anyone make you feel bad… just love your dog. Ignorance is everywhere– don’t stoop to their level!

  5. Donna says:

    I have a 3 yr old male Longhaired Chi. He was 6.8 lbs until last Oct when we got a female. It’s my fault I wouldn’t watch them when they were eating and apparently he got some of her puppy food. They eat Fromm which is a high quality dog food but she was on the puppy and he was on the small breed adult. He now weighs 10 pounds and the vet says he has to lose 2. He’s allowed 1/2-1 1/2 cups per day I only feed him 1/2, I usually add a little bit of boiled skinless chicken breast or sirloin to it. I’m more than willing to cook for him but my vet says home cooking isn’t that good which I don’t believe Where we live he cannot go outside however we have a three-story home and the third level is 500 ft.² empty I take him and my female up there every night to play, just before he hit 10 pounds he would run around and play with her now he may only run around for about five minutes if that. Please help

  6. Lorraine says:

    I appreciate all the info. Thank you all so much! I will report back on my pooch’s progress!

  7. Brenda says:

    My chihuahua is standard size and she’s overweight. I’ll take some of the advice given here. I believe exercise is the best bet. She’s so mellow and her only form of exercise has been sitting in my bike basket while I take her for a ride by the beach. Not very effective. So now I’ll be locking the bike up and taking her for a little stroll at our Dog Beach. I’ll also start monitoring her food intake. I have another smaller chi/doxie and I think my chihuahua is pilfering her sister’s food. She’s a stout little dog now, and I need to get a handle on it. Her legs are thin and don’t want them giving out on her!

  8. Patricia Burroughs aka Pooks says:

    We have a chihuahua we have to constantly monitor to stop her from becoming obese. Fortunately, we went through this with a Labrador Retriever.

    For us, the key is quality dog food [we change from one brand to another, but none of the foods we buy are available at supermarkets]. The good news is that it’s a lot less expensive to buy for a Chihuahua than a Labrador retriever!

    But just as important, if not moreso–we measure it out. Our little chihuahua gets a bit more than one-eighth of a cup twice a day. Look at the 1/4 cup that is the smallest measurement most measuring cup sets have, and imagine half of it. And our dog is a larger chihuahua. At her best weight she might weigh 8.5 pounds.

    But we also learned with our Lab that you supplement the high quality dry dog food with canned green beans, or some other ‘diet food.’ Our Chihuahua loves those green beans. She eats them before she eats her dog food.

    Measure. Supplement with ‘doggy diet food’ which is really the same thing people would eat as diet food–low starch carbohydrates that they can fill up on if the dog food isn’t enough.

    I admit that with my Lab and my Chihuahua that is a small sampling. But at the same time, our Blue Heeler [Australian Cattle Dog] has eaten the same way–with food measured diligently every day. She has never gotten overweight. And when we took her to get her teeth cleaned, the vet who did the work came out to meet us and tell us that she’d assumed our Bella was 3 years old until she’d read her paperwork.

    Bella was 9.

    The vet complimented us for keeping the weight off of her.

    So, some dogs have hunger issues and you supplement with green beans or yellow squash or any other veggie that is pretty much calorie-less. And other dogs [like our Bella] don’t have weight issues and are totally satisfied with their measured amounts of dog food.

    • Shannon Whelchel says:

      I have a 8 year old Chihuahua who is almost 11 pounds. She has got to lose this weight. I would just be devastated if she got hurt from her weight or if God forebid I lost her. My question is, what would you recommend for the green bean measurement? And if you also don’t mind me asking, what kind of food does your girl like? Maybe my Sophie would also like it. Thanks so much for ANY and ALL suggestions and help. Shannon

  9. Donna Sullivan says:

    Baby girl is coming from a well uprooted family an what should I be aware of in behaves from her when taking her home with me an I’ve got 2 cats also do they get along with cats.

  10. Donna Sullivan says:

    I’m getting a over weight baby in June when I move to new home om what all other than walks can I do to help her an she’s 5 so what all do I need to look out for down the road with a older dog an all

  11. Brianna says:

    Hi my little chihuahua is eating way to much and he just likes to eat and I don’t know what to do.

  12. JoAnn. Olthaus says:

    My Chihuahua eats everything. He’s so heavyweight it’s hard for me to lift him what can. I do please help his name is jigs.

    JoAnn Olthaus

  13. mila says:

    my chihuahua dog just passed away few days ago I’m thinking that he had a heart attack. He weighed 13 lbs that was to much weight for him right or wrong I would take him for walks every day during the summer and in the winter every weekend he would keep up with me and my other dogs which is a chihuahua mix Boston Terrier he would run he jumped and he seemed happy but all of a sudden he fell on his back couldn’t get up we did cpr and he just didn’t make it. I feel very guilty because i feel that I let him down. Was the weight a factor for him passing?

    • Sarah Jane Brewer says:

      Please Don’t beat yourself up! You’re suffering enough! The fact that you are researching this and asking this question shows how much you loved your pup! If anything this brought you awareness. Just trying to bring the positive. Im so sorry for your loss! #spreadlovenothate

    • Kelly says:

      Mila im sorry for your loss.. I hope you’re feeling better these days. anyway dogs don’t have typical heart attacks per se. what may have happened is that your dog may have had undiagnosed Congestive Heart Failure. it starts out when a dog has a heart murmur and gradually over time develops CHF. Coughing,restless panting esp at night,wanting to lay at elevated angle(head higher than rear-end,syncope aka fainting,lack of energy,acsites(bloated belly) are some of the major symptoms. It sounds like he fainted and his heart just stopped. I wouldn’t doubt if it was CHF. My jack-huahua passed away last Dec. He had been diagnosed with CHF when he was 10. When Milo passed,he fainted and just stopped breathing..

  14. Sara says:

    I recently adopted a 10yr old chihuahua. His name is poncho. He has advanced tracheal collapse, leaking heart valve, hall stones(which are tiny,not causing issues yet), heart murmur, enlarged heart, born with hip/joint deformities, and has BAD teeth. He’s a happy little guy and is cute!

    Poncho weighs 12.4lbs. He will not eat any sort of dog food,wet dog food, fresh pet, etc. I make him homemade chicken noodle soup and he loves it. I can’t seem to get him to lose weight. If I can get him down to at least 8lbs that would help his tracheal issues a little. I have him on 3 different meds to prolong his life without them he wouldn’t be here right now. I’ve only had him for 2 months.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Kelly says:

      hi sara, i have a very overweight longhaired chi that i rescued from a negligent home. they let him eat cat food and kept his bowl full. when i brought him to my home,he weighed a whopping 34 lbs! im not kidding. I started him on Orijen 6 fish and he is now on Acana Free-Run (both brands are same company) I give him enough food for a dog a few lbs less than he is now. That way he gets fewer calories and he can have a small snack 2x/day. So far he is down to 15 lbs since Christmas Day 2016! he also has a sparkle in his eyes and his coat is soooo shiny!
      Exercise is kept at low level as he has CHF and going blind. He is 13 now. Before he could barely walk. he slept on his back and snored. Now he jumps up and down for his meals and plays.. The key is getting high grade nutrition in a small amt of food. Acana/Orijen is the best commercial food. its expensive but with small dogs its not bad at all. plus they sell small $5 bags too at all Natural Pet food stores..Good luck hope this info helps.

      • Frank and Geraldine says:

        I have 20 lb chihuahua short haired named Rocky and he is only 5 yrs old. He is having trouble walking and have to carry him up and down the stairs. I would like to know if the food you purchased is the name Orijen 6 Fish and AcanaFree-Run. Where can I purchase it and what is the name of the company you bought it from. Please email me as soon as possible. Also I am not sure how I can get back into this website again. Could you please send me the website address. Thank you very much.
        Frank and Geraldine

        • Kelly says:

          Yes,Acana and Orijen are made by the same company. I had my dogs on 6 fish but since my dogs are older *10&13 yrs old,i was advised to switch to Acana Free Run which is lower in protein for older dogs. They are thriving on it. or any local “Natural” Dog Food store carries it. We live in Rancho Mirage,Ca and we get it from Pet Oasis here in the Coachella Valley
          Sorry I forgot to check this site until just today. I hope it helps Love,Kelly, Mrs Moo and Skittles too!

  15. Ramona says:

    My baby is over weight and is having a breathing issues she is retracting and u can see it in her belly what should I do and she only eats twice a day dog food I am just real concerned do I take her to the vet

    • Kelly says:

      Ramona, Im not a vet but I have had a lot of experience with dogs health due to health conditions of dogs that I have adopted. Anyway,if your dog is panting/having breathing issues,i would get your baby checcked for a Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) I had a Jackhuahua (jack russ/chi) and he was plump and always was out of breath. I knew he had a heart murmur but no one ever told me that it can develop into CHF.I did some research and found out. Took him to the vet sure enough CHF.. He was put on Lasix and he lost the water weight. It helped with his breathing. CHF is very common. It’s worth it to check it out so you know.Good luck. Let me know how it turns out 😀

  16. Kari says:

    I adopted a young (2 y.o.) but very obese Chihuahua from a shelter this July. He’d been owned by an elderly lady who could no longer care for herself let alone four Chihuahuas. She fed them nothing but table scraps and wet dog food so the guy I took home was a 16lb football with the worst breath in the world. He’s lost a ton of weight just from switching his diet over to a dry kibble, and walking him. I take him hiking with me now, he’s much more playful and active, his breathing is better, and now I can get him in to have his teeth fixed since he’s at a much healthier weight.

  17. elizabeth dugan says:

    How do I potty train an obese 5 yrs old Chihuahua? And quickly, because he might be put down soon if not and i need advice on chewing.

  18. judy says:

    he does not like to walk i play inside chasing his toys back and forth but only last about 3 min. i give him a baby carrot to help him hold on until dinner

    • elizabeth dugan says:

      Yogurt, carrots, peanut butter, and any meds, blend and then freeze in little balls. They will do anything for them.

  19. Jess says:

    My chihuahua is overweight and everytime I try to take her out on walks, she barks a lot at people and gets into a defensive aggressive mode. This makes it hard for me to help her lose weight.

  20. Marianne Pinner says:

    My vet recommended I feed her chicken, rice and veggies (I cook carrots, peas and grn beans). Usually skinless, boneless, chicken thighs. Is this okay?

    • Kelly says:

      Marianne,I would switch to organic chicken breasts-Boiled. I use thighs sparingly bcuz they are higher in fat than breasts. I also use boiled zucchini my dogs LOVE IT! Once water boils drop a couple slices *Halved down the center and boil with lid on for 2 1/2 minutes remove immediately and let cool with covered bowl. it will continue to cook more as it cools and it will be perfectly done when cool. I then slice it up in small cubes and mix with chicken breasts and small amt of organic white jasimine rice. If you use organic chicken,take s small amt of broth and pour it over the food. Let cool and serve! My longhaired Chi is losing lots of weight from this diet. I also supplement with a sprinkle of Acana/Orijen dog food. The food is so nutritionally dense that a dog needs a smaller amt. When I feed my dogs the homemade,I only sprinkle half the amt for the daily portions

  21. rosalyna says:

    my chihuahua is just a little overweight all i do is take her for a walk [which she loves] and try to trick and give her half a treat [which she has to have or she will keep you up all night until you do] and she is losing weight but not as fast as i want her to so i looked this sight up on google chrome and i will give it a try

    • Loretta says:

      I love my little girl who is 11 years, and the thought of her passing is horible. She is slightly overweight. Because I love her, quality dog food from now on, and only dog food. It has been fun, because she is so cute and funny, to share my food with her. The way she goes after some of it I swear she is starving. But no, it’s like me, who is diabetic enjoying ice cream. Sighhhhh. Such is life, we must work at staying alive. From now on, my little girl will be removed from our eating area during meals and snacks. Love my girl!

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