Let's get into the health recommendations first. The AAFCO, a US regulator of pet foods, requires 37 different nutrients for your dog to have a balanced diet. Typically, small dogs get so much benefit from diets that contain high amounts of calories, enough amount of calcium, and must be composed of small pieces to match their tiny teeth. More than that, there are other factors that you should understand for your tiny-sized pup, regardless of their age. Here are the main factors to consider:
See the best foods for Chihuahua
Every adult dog should have a minimum of 18% protein in their diet as a general rule of thumb. That is why most dog food products never miss the high-amount proteins in the ingredients. This nutrient includes arginine, isoleucine, histidine, lysine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, valine, and tryptophan. It is made of amino acids and all dogs should have at least 10 essential amino acids in their diet. However, higher protein levels are preferred, especially for young or lactating puppies.
Remember that dogs are known to be carnivores, which means that they are most often carnivores but can also adapt to a healthier diet such as a vegetarian or vegan diet. Nevertheless, dogs thrive best on meat-based meals.
Contrary to public myth, carbohydrates are also essential in every dog's diet and are very digestible as well as necessary in forming an important source of energy along with proteins and fats. The key to having carbohydrates as part of a balanced diet is to have a relatively low intake since it is not as important as other energy sources in food. Further, it can help dogs to have proper and regular bowel movements and reduce the possibility of anal gland blockages, which is the common reason for some dogs to rush uncomfortably around the area.
Fats, especially saturated fats are a great source of energy and muscle building as well as repairing in the dog's body. It is an essential macronutrient in their diet since it brings several health benefits including reducing inflammatory responses, maintaining the normal functioning of muscles, and maintaining the normal physiological and cellular processes. That is why a diet with essential fatty acids improves the dog's severe skin and coat conditions, allergies, sensitivities, digestive problems, and eye diseases. Moreso, polyunsaturated fats are also important and these should contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Small breeds such as Chihuahuas, Maltese, Yorkies, etc., tend to grow at a slower rate. Do not fret if your small breed dog food has a lower amount of calcium because it is naturally good for them. Unlike large breeds, such as Mastiff, Retrievers, and Great Dane, they tend to grow faster because of their skeletal and developmental disorders that is why they need more calcium intake.
According to professionals, the calcium intake for small breeds should be at least 0.8g per 100g of dry dog food while larger breeds need to have 1g of calcium per 100g of dog food.
Either small or large breeds, they are both prone to be overweight if being spoiled with their food. However, Brachycephalic breeds–dogs with short, scrunched-up faces–like bulldogs and pugs often have breathing problems which can increase the possibility to reduce their exercise abilities, hence resulting to be overweight. Chihuahuas, beagles, and dachshunds are also prone to be overweight considering that these breeds are large eaters. Truth be told, the pet owners are the number one reason why their pups result in being overweight because of the lack of discipline in eating and exercise for their pets.
A small breed dog differs a lot from a large breed dog. This is because its nutritional needs are higher as well as its development, metabolisms, and metabolic rates. Plus, a small breed dog is more prone to hypoglycemia (a condition where the blood sugar level is lower than normal). It also needs more calories and additional supplements to remain healthy until old age. With that, its diet should be different and specifically formulated to sustain its sensitive but high-energy needs. Here are some detailed differences of a small breed dog food:
Unlike larger dogs, smaller dogs cannot and should not eat a huge amount of food. That is why their kibbles are specifically formulated to have a higher amount of nutrition yet are very small in size for proper digestion. Smaller pups need extra calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat to sustain their high-energy levels.
Soft, chewable kibbles are always the best kibbles for small breeds. A dainty mouth is never good for hard meals. Dog foods formulated for small breeds need to have the right size for their cute mouths. Also, the kibbles should also be easily scraped off the plaque to prevent dental issues, which are very common to small breed pups.
Small breed dogs need to have a calorie-rich diet since they are more prone to muscle tremors and seizures which makes them lazy and weak. That is because a faster metabolism uses up more carbohydrates than usual and converts it into glucose and then creates energy for physical consumption. As we have mentioned above, smaller dogs are prone to hypoglycemia because of a lack of glucose in the body. And take note, smaller breeds are more active than larger ones.
Small breed dogs live longer than large breeds. With that, longer lifespans can also bring more chances of having health issues. That is why small pups should have a diet that has more antioxidants to prevent free-radical problems such as cancers linked in old-aged dogs. It usually comes in frequent stomach upsets, which makes them a picky eater in the long run. A holistic and natural diet gives an advantage to them.
If your dog has been a picky eater these days, it is best to switch to brand new dog food. But before that, it is best to consult first to a veterinarian especially if it is health issues or a required special diet. To transition your dog to new dog food, gently start by mixing about 20% of the NEW and 80% of the OLD. And as the days go by, slowly increase the amount of the new dog food and decrease the amount of the old one. Take this as an example:
Day 1: 20% new, 80% old
Day 5: 40% new, 60% old
Day 10: 60% new, 40% old
Day 15: 80% new, 20% old
Day 20: 100% new
To make your pets healthy and consistent in their proper diet, here are few tips for you to do as a pet owner:
There are specially crafted dog foods for the smaller breeds that you can buy everywhere. High-quality small breed dog foods should come in smaller-sized kibbles or chunks with higher nutrients. Also, feed them with a life stage dog food formula according to their age. There are dog foods that are made for 0 to 3-month-old (developing) puppies as well as adult recipes, and senior recipes for aging dogs.
Moderate their portion sizes while feeding since small breeds have smaller stomachs, hence they should eat in a smaller amount in one sitting if you do not want them to suffer. Even if they seem to eat massively, you have to be the one to control their diet. If you think your dog needs to have supplements, then you may do it. Probiotics are a good choice if your pet suffers from digestive issues, which is very common for small breeds. Fish oil or canola oil are also recommended if they have poor skin and coat.
Much of the time small breeds do tend to age at a slower pace than larger breeds… Your dog may be considered “ an older or senior” quicker than you think. Why According to the American Veterinary Medical Association… “…small dogs are generally considered senior at 7 years of age. Therefore If your small dog is over 7 but is not overweight you may not need to switch to a senior small breed diet.
For a healthy and happy, small or toy dog breed - you do need to take care feeding.
First select appropriate food: Feed your toy pup food specifically crafted for small breed dogs. Why - well there are many reasons but a key one is because it comes in smaller-sized kibble or chunks. Often small breed dog food is percentage higher in nutrients.