What you should know about treats, table food, special formula foods, puppy food, food for seniors, and much more.
TREATS AND TABLE FOOD
Should you give your Chihuahua table scraps? Of course, that is your decision, but here are some facts that you should consider first.
- Chihuahua tummies are small and can’t hold much food at a time.
- No matter how nutritious your dinner is for humans, most likely her* dog food is much better for her.
- Dogs that eat table scraps usually lose their taste for dog food altogether.
- If you feed your dog directly from the table, she will become an accomplished beggar. It may be cute a time or two, but your guests probably won’t find it to be cute at all.
- Last, but not least eating table scraps is the number one cause of obesity in dogs. (see My Chihuahua is Chubby, But She Refuses to Eat Dog Food! What Should I Do?)
So, should you NEVER feed them table scraps? Not necessarily. If you have some healthy leftovers, like chicken, steak or roast that is not highly seasoned they might enjoy having some mixed in with their dog food. Just be sure that it is well chopped or mashed. If you leave it in big chunks, they will likely inhale it and leave the rest of their food.
Small treats or biscuits can be good for your Chi because they help scrape tartar off their teeth. Just remember their tiny tummies and be sure to get ones that are made small enough for toy breeds.
Chihuahuas enjoy an occasional cooked vegetable. Most dog’s digestive systems have a hard time processing raw vegetables, so it is better to give them cooked vegetables. Make sure they are cut into very small pieces and that they have cooled sufficiently.
Treats are necessary when training your dog, just be sure they are very small and that they still get most of their calories from regular meals. Small pieces of cheese or chicken make good training treats. Just be sure your dog isn’t lactose intolerant. If they are, cheese can cause gas and stomach cramps. If this is the case, you BOTH may suffer the consequences. The only way to know is to try a tiny piece of cheese. If they show no signs of gas or discomfort, then cheese will be a good treat for your dog. Most dogs love cheese and will do any trick or task for a cheese treat.
SPECIAL FORMULA FOODS
Many dog food companies offer food (dry or canned) that is formulated for different stages of life. That’s a good thing. Dogs nutritional requirements can change at different stages in their lives.
Puppy food to grow on:
Your Chihuahua or toy breed dog needs to eat a diet formulated for puppies until she is 1-year-old. These formulas usually contain more protein and fat. Puppies need extra protein for growth and extra fat for their higher energy levels.
Adult Dog food:
After their first birthday, you will want to gradually switch to an adult or maintenance dog food. These are formulated with just the right nutrients to keep your adult dog healthy inside and out as well as giving them all the energy they need. One of the first signs of poor nutrition is a poor coat. Keeping in mind her energy level you may want to adjust the amounts over the years to keep her from gaining or losing too much weight.
Food for Performers:
If you decide to have your Chihuahua become a show dog or to perform in obedience or agility competitions, you may want to consider feeding her a performance formula. These usually have more protein and fat content similar to puppy food. In fact, some owners simply keep their dogs on high-quality puppy food as long as they are competing.
Weight Control Formulas:
When it comes to weight control, make sure your Chihuahua gets enough exercise, eats a regular diet (not table scraps) and doesn’t get a treat every time she begs. Please don’t let your Chihuahua get fat. It is bad for her bones and organs and can cause a variety of health problems and shorten their life. Obesity is especially bad for Chihuahuas and small breed dogs (see link above). It is a major health problem in American dogs and is estimated that nearly 50 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight. If, however, she becomes pudgy anyway there are a variety of weight control formula dog foods available. Most of them contain lower amounts of protein and fat and higher fiber to help them feel full. Although, other options are healthier. Try increasing their exercise if at all possible, (see: How to Exercise Your Chihuahua Indoors) or try feeding her a little less at each meal. If you feed her 90% less for a month and that doesn’t help talk to your veterinarian to make sure there aren’t any health issues causing the weight gain. If not your vet may suggest switching to a weight management formula dog food.
Food for Seniors:
Most dogs are considered to be “senior” at around 7 years old. However, because Chihuahuas and other toy breed dogs have a longer life span they are not considered to be “senior” until they are around 10. If your “senior” dog is healthy you may not need to switch to a senior formula dog food. If they are having teeth or gum issues (see: ) warming or softening dry dog food may be easier for them to chew and feel better on sore gums. If they have certain health issues, your veterinarian may suggest a prescription dog food that is formulated for their certain health issue. For instance, if they have kidney disease a dog food with less protein would be easier on the kidneys. Diabetes, heart disease, renal failure, pancreatitis or certain skin ailments may call for a specific formula dog food. These prescription dog foods are only found at the vegetarian’s office because they would not be good for healthy dogs.
This is the last in a series of posts on dog food. I hope you’ll pass them on to a friend or family member. If you missed the first three, you will find them here:
∗For the sake of simplicity, I will use the pronoun “she” or “her” in this post.