Diet of a Chow Chow

By Dannah Swift

Chow Chows have recently become a very popular dog breed, resulting in some irresponsible breeding practices by inexperienced breeders. Breeding by those who are improperly educated about breed specifics can cause the less-desirable traits and characteristics of a breed to resurface. Chow Chows have very specific dietary requirements, due to their breed history of vegetarianism, and an inexperienced, uneducated breeder will probably not know this. Always purchase a purebred dog from an AKC-certified breeder whose knowledge and love of the breed will benefit you and your dog.

What to Feed Your Chow Chow


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Historically, Chow Chows originated in China, in the area now known as Tibet, as a food source for humans. Much like raising sheep, cattle and pigs today, Chow Chows consumed a diet largely consisting of grains and vegetables, with the occasional supplement of soy and fish. For this reason, Chow Chows cannot properly digest high levels of protein. A high-protein diet will lead to skin problems. William D. Cusick advises Chow owners to prepare homemade meals for their protein-sensitive Chow Chows. Include rice, which is easy for a Chow Chow to digest, and which supports healthy skin and a healthy coat. Eggs and cottage cheese are also good protein sources for Chow Chows. Omega fatty acids are essential for healthy skin and coat, and you can provide these by adding a teaspoon of olive or fish oil to your dog’s meal. Crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery help reduce plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth and make a healthy addition to their homemade meals. Other healthy additions are frozen peas and beans; blueberries, which provide antioxidants; and plain, low-fat yogurt, a spoonful of which provides healthy, helpful bacteria to the digestive system. Four cups of food per day is the most you should feed your Chow Chow; feed him once or twice a day.


Vitamin supplements.

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Provide vitamin and mineral supplements for your Chow Chow. Brewer’s yeast supplies water-soluble vitamins that your dog needs, such as the B-complex, vitamins A, D, E and folic acid. Bone meal provides the additional calcium that your Chow Chow requires, in addition to other minerals like iron, phosphorous, manganese and zinc. Do not supplement your Chow Chow’s diet with vitamin C in any form. Avoid beef, horse meat, lamb, poultry or any meat byproducts.

Dry Dog Food

Dry dog food.

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If you choose to feed your Chow Chow dry dog food--ideally combined with a homemade “stew” of vegetables and rice--talk to your veterinarian to determine which brand is best for Chow Chows. Your vet will likely recommend a high-quality dry dog food with little animal byproducts and few preservatives. Remember that deep-chested dogs like Chow Chows tend to swallow a lot of air when they eat, which can cause bloating. Dry dog food can also swell in your Chow’s stomach with too much water consumption after their meal. If you feed your Chow any dry food, mix some water in with it to reduce the amount of swelling in your dog’s stomach. Do not hesitate to have a lengthy diet discussion with your breeder to find out what she feeds her dogs. Breeders are very familiar with their dogs’ temperaments, activity level and potential health problems, and are a wealth of information should you decide to add a Chow Chow to your life.