"How often should Chihuahuas eat?" is a frequent question Chihuahua owners ask. Since Chihuahuas are such small dogs, it is wise to be concerned about feeding them. It's important to make sure they're getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy without overfeeding them. All dogs can easily become overweight, but small dogs can become unhealthy with even a small weight gain. How much food to feed them, how often, and what type of food to feed depends on your Chihuahua's age, current weight, and overall health.
Feeding Chihuahua once a day? Twice? Or more?
When determining how often to feed your Chihuahua, consider your dog's age. Puppies should be fed four or five times a day after they are weaned. Watch them as they eat to see the type of eaters they are. Even as puppies, you can see that some are able to control themselves and eat only when they're hungry, while others will eat every morsel put in front of them. For the nonstop eaters, put their food out, let them know it's there, but leave it out for a maximum of 30 minutes only. Check to see that puppies are eating, and how much they eat each time, to be sure they are getting enough nourishment. If you have more than one Chihuahua puppy, it's important to note each puppy's eating habits and how much each puppy eats.
Follow your vet's guidelines on the type of food and how much to feed at each of your dog's stages, and be sure to divide the amount by the number of times a day you are advised to offer food. It may not look like much food to you, especially if you're feeding four times a day, but consider how small a Chihuahua's body is. They stand between 5 and 8 inches tall from paw to withers (tip of the shoulder bone) and should weigh 6 pounds or less. At AKC dog shows, Chihuahuas are disqualified if they weigh more than 6 pounds. While you may be more interested in snuggling than showing your Chihuahua, they are also likely to be healthier if they weigh no more than 6 pounds.
When puppies are between 12 weeks and 6 months old, you can usually reduce the number of feedings to three per day. From 6 months to 12 months of age, puppies grow and mature a lot, though every puppy is different. Many vets advise switching to adult dog food at the 12-month mark, but some advise dropping down to two feedings a day a few months earlier, while still feeding them puppy food. Your vet will want to know how much each puppy has grown, both height and weight, before deciding when and how to change the Chihuahua feeding schedule. Adult dogs are typically fed adult dog food twice a day.
Establishing your Chihuahua feeding schedule
Try to feed your Chihuahuas on a schedule, at the same times every day. They will come to know when it's time to eat. Feeding on a schedule also allows you to determine roughly when they'll need to go outside for elimination each day. Be sure to monitor the weather anytime your Chihuahua goes outside, and put sweaters on when it is cold. This is especially important when they are puppies and might not be able to regulate their body temperatures yet. But due to their small size, even as adults Chihuahuas need to be protected from weather extremes. They can easily become overheated in hot weather, too. Be sure they always have full bowls of fresh, cool water.
Knowing Chihuahua foods to avoid
Many foods that people eat are toxic to all dogs and should be avoided. This is especially so for Chihuahuas, which could have toxic reactions to small amounts that might not bother a larger dog. Foods that should never be given to dogs include grapes, raisins, mushrooms, onion, garlic, green parts of potatoes and tomatoes, avocado, liver, chocolate, xylitol sweetener, walnuts and macadamia nuts, raw salmon, and more.