A question came in about a chihuahua who didn’t appear to be eating. As this is a common worry I have posted it as a case history.

This was the query from a reader.

He’s 9 months old, weighs 4lb, 9 oz. I just had him to the vet. He’s healthy but just doesn’t seem to eat enough to keep a bird alive. He has energy, he seems to feel well but he just doesn’t like anything. He doesn’t even like any treats. He’s a mystery? We had another chihuahua that passed away in Oct 2021, he was 15. During the last years of his life he could only eat chicken and rice which I made for him (pancreatitis). Bruno even turns up his little nose at chicken and rice! I’m at a loss.

It’s a worry when your dog doesn’t appear to eat. But clearly, he is eating something, or he would be skin and bone and be ill. So, he is getting calories from somewhere.

How much should your chihuahua eat?

The first thing we need to do is ascertain exactly how much he should be eating, and this depends on a few things.

Age, correct weight, sex (boys can eat a little more) and if he is neutered on not.

If he is nine months, he is still classed as a puppy and should be eating puppy food until he is 1 year. But at the same time if this is not possible, he is just old enough to eat adult food.

He weighs 4lb 9oz (2.1kgs).

A puppy should eat around 5% of their correct body weight.

In grams that’s 105gms per day or 4oz. This should be spread across the day with breakfast some lunch and dinner. With a small snack at bedtime.

An adult dog eats 3-4% of their correct body weight. Yong toy dogs may be able to eat a little more as they have a higher metabolic rate than a large dog. Also, if he is a complete dog he can eat more as his testicles take a lot of upkeep. (If he is complete, my advice is to keep him this way.)

The best way to make sure you know exact how much he is eating is to weigh the food for the day, put it in a pot and feed across the day. That way you will be sure how much he has eaten. He is probably eating more than you think and it will put your mind at rest.

He should not be fed any kind of treats as they just fill them up with rubbish. Nor should he be eating carbs as they are filling and don’t have the correct nutritional profile for a dog. If you want to take food out for training on walks take boiled chicken but include this into his daily food allowance.

What your chihuahua should be eating

Then we need to look at what he should be eating for optimal health.

Dogs need to eat fat and a range of good quality protein to thrive. Muscle meat (chicken, turkey, beef, pork, rabbit etc) offal, organ meat, eggs, fish (Oily and white, but not tuna). Kefir and low Gi veg and herbs.  Dry food does not supply this and is best avoided. Also, it’s full of fillers and carbs, turns to sugar, rots teeth, and causes inflammation.

Feed a good quality raw or wet cooked food that has a high protein offering. Don’t feed a dog rice as its not species appropriate and is a carb. It can also grow micro toxins that cause allergies. If you are going to home cook it is essential that the recipe comes from a professional who knows how to balance the meal. A young dog needs to correct nutrients and getting the calcium correct can be tricky. If you want some help with this, I can point you in the right direction.

How to feed your chihuahua

How you feed is also important. Make food more interesting by using a lick mat or a Kong. Scatter feed. Dogs like to work for their food, it’s called contrafreeloading. Flick food around on the floor and get him to chase it can be fun and get them in the mood for eating.

Don’t stare at your dog or make a fuss when they are eating as it stresses them out. Put the food down, leave them to it and if they don’t eat it in a short time, pick the plate up and offer it again a bit later. Don’t leave food down all day.

Research has shown that if you feed a dog dry food and a single protein while they are puppies, it makes it harder for them to eat a range of proteins later. So, this could be contributing to the problem. It’s always better to feed a range of different foods from a young age.

Here are some articles that you may find helpful.