Choosing food for Chihuahuas is challenging because they are so small! The average dog food simply won’t work for them, as the kibble will often be much too big. Instead, only the smallest kibble size will do, or you’ll need to skip dry food altogether and select a wet food.
You also need to pay attention to the food’s overall nutritional value. If it is less nutritious than other options, it doesn’t really matter that the kibble is small enough for your Chihuahua to eat.
We did the research to find foods that fit both these factors. Here, we created reviews of foods that are high quality enough to provide optimal nutrition and small enough for your Chihuahua to actually eat.
A Glance at Our 2022 Favorites
The 10 Best Dog Foods for Chihuahuas
1. Solid Gold Mighty Mini Gut Health — Best Overall
|First Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, chickpeas, peas, pea protein|
For most Chihuahuas, Solid Gold Mighty Mini Gut Health is a good option. It has chicken as the first ingredient, along with chicken meal. As long as your canine isn’t allergic to chicken, this protein source is a great option.
The kibble size of this formula is small, enabling even Chihuahuas to eat it without any issues.
Probiotics are included too, which improve your dog’s overall health. If your Chihuahua has digestive problems, probiotics may be particularly important. Since it only includes one protein source, it may be more suitable for dogs with digestive problems.
This formula is also completely free from grain and gluten.
It also includes various helpful veggies, like pumpkin and cranberries. These provide healthy fiber and antioxidants, as well as other vitamins and minerals that your tiny dog needs.
2. Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food — Best Value
|First Ingredients:||Chicken, rice, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, whole grain corn|
For those on a strict budget, you may want to look at Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food. This formula is decently high quality while also being inexpensive. Therefore, it is easily the best dog food for Chihuahuas for the money.
It has chicken as the main source of protein and meat. However, it also includes a few lower-quality protein options, like corn gluten meal and poultry by-product meal.
This formula is full of probiotics, which can improve your Chihuahua’s overall digestive health.
The kibble is designed to be rather small, which enables your canine to eat it with ease. The high amount of protein-rich ingredients makes this formula decently high in protein, though it isn’t the highest quality.
3. CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Dog Food — Premium Choice
|First Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, peas, lentils, tapioca, chicken fat|
With only a few ingredients, CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Dog Food is one of the best dog foods out there for Chihuahuas. But compared to other foods, it is extremely expensive.
However, given that a Chihuahua doesn’t eat much, it is often easier to feed them premium foods.
This formula starts with a whole chicken and is completely grain-free. It has plenty of omega fatty acids, which can improve your pet’s skin and coat. It is also coated in freeze-dried chicken, which improves the taste substantially.
The kibble size is small, as it is specifically designed for toy breeds.
4. Cesar Classic Loaf in Sauce Beef Recipe
|First Ingredients:||Beef, chicken liver, beef lung, chicken broth, water|
Sometimes with small dogs like Chihuahuas, it is simply easiest to choose a wet food. That way, you don’t have to worry about kibble size. In this case, we recommend Cesar Classic Loaf in Sauce Beef Recipe. This food has high amounts of protein, with beef and chicken liver as the first two ingredients.
It also uses broth along with regular water, which raises the protein content considerably. This formula is completely grain-free, containing mostly animal products instead.
Due to the high moisture content, this formula may also help keep your dog hydrated. It also makes this food tastier for many dogs.
The main downside of this food is that can’t be left out for long before going bad, which can be a problem for small breeds prone to hypoglycemia like Chihuahuas. Therefore, it is only best if you are at home to give the food to them.
5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed
|First Ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, fish meal|
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed is a popular food for small dogs. The formula has quality chicken and chicken meals, which provide most of the protein in this food. It does include grains, but these are high-quality and whole, which means they do provide some nutrition.
This formula also has antioxidant-rich ingredients and chelated minerals. These provide your Chihuahua with a health boost and help ensure that your canine is consuming all the minerals that they need.
Omega fatty acids are included with this formula, including omega-3 and omega-6. Glucosamine is also added, though this may not be super helpful for a small breed like the Chihuahua.
This kibble is small enough for Chihuahua-sized jaws.
That said, this formula is more expensive than most others. It also includes high levels of peas, though they don’t appear high on the list. Instead of listing all the peas together, the company splits the peas up into multiple parts and then adds them, making them appear low on the ingredient list.
6. Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe
|First Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, chickpeas, tapioca, chicken fat|
With freeze-dried raw pieces, the Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe is a solid option for many dogs out there. However, it is quite expensive, largely because of these raw pieces. There is currently no research that shows that raw pieces of food improve a dog’s health, so you’ll need to decide whether you’re willing to pay extra for something that may not actually mean much.
Of course, this food is good in other ways. It has quality ingredients, including whole chicken and various animal sources. It is also quite high in protein and made without any grains. Overall, it is a good food; it is just quite expensive for what you get.
This food includes live probiotics, which are essential for your Chihuahua’s digestive system. It is also made in the U.S.A.
7. Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed
|First Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain barley, split peas, brewers rice|
Compared to most other formulas, Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed is about average. It is designed specifically for small breeds, so it does have a small kibble size. It starts with chicken and chicken meal, which are great sources of protein. It includes whole grains, which are also nutritious.
This formula is completely made without any GMO ingredients. It is free from chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, and soy. It also has natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, which can support healthy joints.
However, this formula includes split peas high on the ingredient list, which may be linked to certain heart problems in dogs. It also isn’t high in protein, though your Chihuahua may not necessarily need a high-protein diet.
8. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health
|First Ingredients:||Deboned turkey, chicken meal, salmon meal, oatmeal, ground brown rice|
The Wellness Small Breed Complete Health recipe is a good option for some Chihuahuas. It does not include any GMOs, by-products, or artificial preservatives. Instead, this formula has a wide variety of different proteins, like deboned turkey and chicken meal.
This formula also has various additives, like probiotics, glucosamine, and taurine. All these ingredients help support your pet’s overall health. While this formula is not grain-free, it does only include quality grains, like brown rice, which do provide some nutrition for your small pooch.
That said, there are reports of dogs having loose stools as a result of eating this product. Since it contains many different proteins, this formula may cause digestive problems. There are probiotics in this formula that may help prevent this, though.
9. Purina Beneful Small Breed IncrediBites
|First Ingredients:||Chicken, whole grain corn, barley, whole grain wheat, chicken by-product meal|
While the Purina Beneful Small Breed IncrediBites is extremely inexpensive, there is a good reason for that. This formula starts with whole chicken, which is a solid option for most dogs. However, it also includes a few low-quality ingredients, including whole grain corn, barley, and chicken by-product meal.
This kibble is designed for small mouths, so your Chihuahua shouldn’t have too much of a problem eating it. This formula is also high in protein, which is important for all dogs.
As a calcium-rich food, this formula is great at supporting the bones of small dogs, which are more at risk of being broken than those of large dogs.
10. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small
|First Ingredients:||Corn, chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, brown rice, corn gluten meal|
Royal Canin is often billed as a premium dog food, but this formula starts with corn. (The number-one rule for purchasing dog food is to select a formula with meat as the first ingredient.) Meat is technically the second ingredient, but it is chicken by-product meal, one of the lower quality options out there.
The other ingredients in this dog food are also low quality. For instance, corn gluten meal is included, which raises the protein content of the food with low-quality plant protein.
This formula is also more expensive than most other options, so you’re paying for worse ingredients than what can be found in cheaper dog food.
L-carnitine is included to help improve fat metabolism. However, unless your Chihuahua is obese, this may not be super helpful. Like most dog foods, omega fatty acids are included.
Chihuahuas are extremely small dogs, so finding food for them is difficult. Most brands just aren’t designed for dogs of this size.
You also need to consider whether the food meets their nutritional needs. Fortunately, Chihuahuas don’t have many health issues, which does widen the variety of foods available to them.
In this section, we look at the most important features and factors to keep in mind when choosing quality dog food for your Chihuahua.
Do Chihuahuas Need Special Food?
Usually, these dogs do not need special food. Chihuahuas may be small, but their overall nutritional needs are just like those of any other dog. Therefore, your main concern with getting the correct food is the kibble size.
Chihuahuas are among the smallest dogs out there and have small mouths. Many kibbles are simply too big. Choosing a formula specifically designed for very small dogs is a must. However, not all small breed foods are designed for dogs as small as Chihuahuas.
Instead, you need food that is designed for toy breeds or “extra small” breeds. This food is often specifically designed for tiny canines like Chihuahuas.
After you find a food that is small enough for your Chihuahua, the next task is to find a food that is high quality.
Preferably, all dog foods should include animal protein of some sort as the first ingredient. If one doesn’t, it is a sign that the food is low-quality.
That said, not just any animal protein will do. You have to ensure that you are choosing a food that is high-quality and suitable for your Chihuahua. There are a few main types of meat.
Whole meat is probably what you’re used to seeing in most dog foods. When meat is simply labeled as “chicken,” it is whole meat. These meats are high in protein and nutrients. However, they are also high in water content. Therefore, they are quite heavy, which makes them be listed higher in the ingredient list.
Meat meals have had their water content removed. Therefore, they are more concentrated than whole meats, though they have the same general “stuff” in them. Meat meals are great ingredients because they are concentrated and don’t weigh much. Therefore, if they appear high on a dog food’s ingredient list, it means that there is a large amount of animal meat in the food.
By-products are notorious ingredients on the dog food market. You have likely been told to avoid them. However, the truth is a bit more complicated than that. By-products can sometimes include quality things, like organ meats. But they can also include low-quality things, like feathers and hair, which don’t provide much nutritional value.
You won’t always know which is which. If the company is using human-grade by-products, though, they are likely to be of higher quality.
Additives: What Does It All Mean?
When shopping for dog food, you’ll see advertisements like, “Glucosamine from natural sources!” and “Omega fatty acids for salmon oil!” Deciphering all this is a challenge on its own.
Fortunately, Chihuahuas aren’t in any particular need of any of these additives, though we do recommend that you familiarize yourself with them:
Choosing food for a Chihuahua mostly involves finding the smallest food possible. There are many foods out there designed for small breeds, but even these aren’t always small enough for Chihuahuas. Therefore, you often have to select a food designed for a toy or extra small breeds, though these are not always obviously labeled. Chihuahuas also benefit from a high-quality diet just like any other dog, so what is in the food is also important.
Generally speaking, we recommend the Solid Gold Mighty Mini Gut Health. This food is grain-free and includes probiotics. Chicken is the sole source of protein, and this formula includes a wide range of fruit and veggies.
We highly recommend Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food if you need a budget option. This formula includes probiotics and is quite high in protein.
Hopefully, our reviews have helped you locate the best dog food for your canine.
Featured Image Credit: Tanyastock, Shutterstock
Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one day!