While the breed standard for Chihuahuas calls for dogs to weigh 4 to 6 pounds, this mostly applies to dogs from show bloodlines. Many pet Chihuahuas, even some from show breeders, will weigh more than 6 pounds. Some Chihuahuas weigh up to 20 pounds, especially if they are overweight. Chihuahuas will generally weigh somewhere between these two sizes. The breed doesn’t require much exercise, but you do need to watch how much you feed your Chihuahua since they do have a tendency to overeat and become overweight. Even though Chihuahuas don’t need a lot of exercise, it’s still a good idea to see that your dog gets daily walks and some exercise every day. Being a purse dog and living a sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for any dog, even a pampered Chihuahua.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Chihuahua weighing 10 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of about 404 calories. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. Growing puppies, for example, consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young adult Chihuahua weighing about 10 pounds, for example, and getting lots of exercise would need about 436 calories per day. However, if your Chihuahua tends to lie around the house all day, he would probably need fewer calories.
Protein is very important for your Chihuahua’s diet, just as it is for every dog. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends a minimum of 22 percent protein for growth (puppies) and 18 percent protein for maintenance in adult dogs. These percentages are recommended for dogs in general. Most good quality dog foods will exceed these percentages. Fat is an important source of energy for dogs and should comprise at least 8 percent of the diet for Chihuahua puppies and 5 percent of the diet for adults.
Why Choosing The Right Dog Food Is Important For a Chihuahua?
- 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.
Ingredients To Look For:
As with most dogs, Chihuahuas need protein and fat in their diets. However, not all protein and fat are the same. Protein and fat need to come from good quality ingredients. For example, both shoe leather and steak contain protein but there’s a big difference in the nutrition they provide.
Ideally, a good dog food will feature a couple of meat proteins in the first five (or so) ingredients. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to ingredients such as whole chicken, lamb, fish, and beef. However, whole meats also contain lots of water. Animals are made up of about 70 percent water, just as humans are. If the water from these meats were removed, they would be found lower on the ingredient list. This is because dog food companies are required by law to list ingredients by weight before cooking in the ingredient list. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has already been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually very good as one of the first ingredients in a premium quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food companies. Less desirable are the terms “digest” or “by-products.” If you see these terms on the label of a dog food, you should ask some questions.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. Some vitamins are only fat-soluble and your dog needs them in his diet. But fat, like protein, varies in quality depending on the source. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy.
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