chihuahua lying down

What is the Best Dog Food for my Chihuahua?

LAST UPDATED 4 SEPTEMBER 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Emilee Lay BVSc BSc Vet Hons

Chihuahuas take on the title of the smallest dog breed in the world, but their pocket size stature doesn't mean they aren't sassy, fierce and smart! As a loyal and lifelong companion it is essential to provide optimum nutrients to fuel their tiny bodies and larger than life personalities. 

Why is choosing the right food important?

Given that Chihuahuas can live up to 18 years of age, providing the optimal premium nutrition to support their health is key to their longevity. This starts from puppyhood all the way to their golden twilight years. Chihuahuas like many small breed dogs do have a reputation for being fussy with their food. Choosing food that not only benefits their health but can tempt even the fussiest of pooches is essential. 

Four reasons why it's important to choose the right dry food are:
  1. Complete and Balanced: Dry foods are more nutritionally dense and completely balanced - compared to home-cooked diets, meaning it's convenient to feed, but also you can rest assured that your Chihuahua is getting everything they need. 
  2. Kibble Size: Having smaller and sometimes abnormal jaws means they need smaller kibble to help chew their food easier, this is especially important as Chihuahuas are particularly prone to dental disease. 
  3. Age: Small breed dogs of different ages have very different nutritional requirements. Puppies require energy-dense food which meets their intense growth rates, while senior dogs are often less active have a slower metabolism which means that they require fewer calories and less fat, but an easily digestible diet, to help them maintain good body condition.
  4. Health: Given their longer lifespans, small breed dogs are prone over the course of their lives to heart, mobility and gastrointestinal issues. Many dry foods have a wellness range to target these issues. In addition, prescription diets are now readily available to help manage these conditions. 

Results:

  1. Best Overall: Royal Canin Chihuahua
  2. Best Runner Up: Hill's Science Diet Small Paws Dry Dog Food
  3. Best Natural Diet: Black Hawk Lamb and Rice Small Breed Dry Dog Food
  4. Best Grain Free Diet: Wellness Core Small Breed Grain Free Dry Food
  5. Best Air Dried/Freeze Dried Food: Ziwi Peak Air Dried Mackerel and Lamb Dry Dog Food
  6. Best Puppy Food: Advance Puppy Small Breed Chicken with Rice Dry Dog Food
  7. Best Senior Diet: Eukanuba Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food
  8. Best Health Support Diet: Advance Triple Action Dental Care Dry Dog Food and Hill's Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin Small and Mini Dry Dog Food

How We Review Our Products

Our Pet Circle Vet Squad comprises 30 vets with over 120 years of collective, independent veterinary expertise. Our Vet team use their health and husbandry knowledge, along with their own personal and clinical experiences to evaluate each product and provide detailed, informative reviews, free of any commercial bias. We then collate this information into our 'best of' recommendations.

Top Foods for Chihuahuas in Australia

Best Overall: Royal Canin Chihuahua

Pros

  • Highly palatable, and smaller kibble size specific for Chihuahuas
  • Unique texture, flavour and kibble size designed to suit the Chihuahua jaw 
  • Contains calcium chelating agents to reduce tartar and promote good oral health 

Cons

  • Only available in 1.5kg and 3kg bags 
  • Contains chicken, which may not be suitable for dogs with food intolerances or allergies 
  • Designed for purebred dogs, and may not be suitable for cross breeds 

Royal Canin have utilized its accumulated vast knowledge of pets to ensure that their foods are perfectly designed to meet the nutritional requirements of dogs based on their size, age, lifestyle, breed and specific needs - this has been accrued through rigorous scientific research and ongoing commitments to developing and improving their formulations alongside industry professionals. Their breed specific formulas take this one step further, and are supported by their extensive range of health specific foods as well. 

This formulation is highly palatable, with a complex of antioxidants and prebiotics to support optimal immune and digestive function, reduce stool volume and odour, and comes with accompanying wet food and puppy food as well.

What our customers say: "Best dry kibble for chihuahuas and small dog fussy eaters. Feeding this and the puppy version since 8 months and our dog loves it. No point feeding cheaper alternatives if this is so good"

What our vets say: "It's great that a breed specific kibble and wet food exists, for the pocket rocket that is the Chihuahua. Being fussy eaters with a reputation for dental disease, any food that gets them chewing and chomping away is a big plus!" - Dr. Nicole

Shop Royal Canin Chihuahua

Best Runner Up: Hill's Small Paws Dry Dog Food

Pros

  • Specifically formulated for small breed dogs with high quality proteins and easy to digest ingredients 
  • Available in a range of sizes - 1.5 kg, 3kg, 7.03kg 
  • Antioxidant blend, packed full of vitamins for immune system support
  • Small kibble size - approximately 7.5 x 4.5mm 

Cons

  • Not Australian Made 
  • Poultry based diet may not be suitable for adults with food intolerances or allergies 

Hill's Pet Nutrition formulations are firmly rooted in science with the main mission of creating the highest-quality dog food, backed by evidence based research. Their range encompasses a variety of wellness and health profiles and they are leading the industry with their innovative product range - transforming lives through nutrition, for every lifestage and health condition. 

This small breed specific range, has been designed to the very last detail for small breed adult dogs. They cater not only to every lifestage but to many health conditions as well. But they haven't forgotten about you owners as well - as this food is available in a variety of sizes to suit the needs of different households and storage abilities - some of the bags also feature a zip lock feature to keep the kibble fresh

What our customers say: "My chihuahua happily eats it twice a day and I know she is getting a quality food and the number one ingredient is chicken not grain She is the picture of health with great teeth and well formed non odourous stools"

What our vets say: "Hill's has done it again with their carefully thought out and curated range of small breed specific foods - this is the perfect option (that also comes in bulk) for fussy small breed dogs" - Dr. Emilee

Shop Hill's Small Paws Dry Dog Food

Best Natural Diet: Black Hawk Lamb and Rice Small Breed Dry Food

Pros

  • Australian Made Holistic Formula specific for adult small breeds
  • Highly palatable for fussy dogs 
  • Added food grade emu oil and functional natural ingredients like blueberries and dandelions
  • Available in 3kg and 10kg bags

Cons

  • Does contain some Poultry based ingredients which may not be suitable for dogs with food intolerances or allergies

Black Hawk foods are a favourite among dog-owners looking to feed their dogs locally made diets. The other Black Hawk dog ranges include chicken, fish and beef as well as grain options. Unfortunately, these varieties do not come in a smaller kibble size. The foods are also only suitable for adult dogs over 12 months of age.

Black Hawk is a premium, natural brand with a focus on quality ingredients, and where every product is free of artificial colours, preservatives and flavours. It is 100% Australian-made, giving you peace-of-mind about the manufacturing quality of the food, and that you are supporting local industry.

Black Hawk diets are a very reasonably priced premium holistic option compared to other holistic options for dogs.

What our customers say: "My pugs love it, the biscuits are super small and great for smaller breed dogs"

Shop Black Hawk Small Breed Lamb and Rice

Best Grain Free Diet: Wellness Core Small Breed Grain Free Dry Food

Pros

  • All-natural, grain free diet rich in turkey and chicken to support lean muscle and packed with delicious superfoods  
  • No artificial colours or flavours, added probiotics and omega fatty acids to support digestive and skin health 
  • Small triangular shaped kibble size perfect for small jaws - approximately 9mm x 9mm 
  • Balanced calories and controlled carbohydrate levels to support the higher metabolism of small breed dogs 

Cons

  • Not Australian Made
  • Poultry based diet may not be suitable for adults with food intolerances or allergies

Wellness is built on a philosophy that dogs thrive on a natural diet built on hearty animal proteins and bolstered by healthy, functional plant based ingredients. Their nutrient-dense meals are crafted in small batches, and the special triangular shaped kibble is perfect for small breed dogs - especially Chihuahuas. 

Their Small Breed range has been specially formulated to support the higher metabolic rates and energy demands of small dogs. In addition added glucosamine, chondroitin, omega fatty acids and probiotics in every bite of kibble ensures your dog's joint, skin and digestive health is in tip top shape. 

What our customers say: "My dog is really fussy when it comes to kibble size. The size of this kibble is just right for her. The recipe is good, the price is good, my dog would only eat this, would keep purchasing it for sure "

Shop Wellness Core Grain Free Small Breed Dog Food

Best Air Dried/Freeze Dried: Ziwi Peak Air Dried Mackerel and Lamb 

Pros

  • Delicious sustainably sourced and air dried Blue Mackerel and New Zealand Lamb 
  • Grain free with no artificial colours or preservatives 
  • Added Green Mussel for joint and mobility support
  • Relatively small size and soft texture makes it perfect for small breed dogs 
  • Suitable for all life stages 
  • Alternative to raw feeding, while still retaining the benefits of the raw ingredients
  • Available in a range of other proteins - check them out here!

Cons

  • Expensive in comparison to other dry foods
  • Freeze-dried foods may not be as safe from bacterial and parasitic contamination as foods cooked with heat
  • Very calorie dense, so may contribute more to weight gain if overfed

Air-dried to retain raw nutrition, all Ziwi recipes are high in meat, organs and bones with beneficial inclusions like green-lipped mussel. With complete and balanced recipes, they are also grain free and all ingredients are sourced sustainably. Ziwi recipes are highly palatable, making them a great choice for fussy eaters.

Ziwi-Peak dry foods have a firm jerky texture, so are an excellent choice as treats, for training or as a topper to provide variety to other foods.

Ziwi-Peak dry foods should be stored in their original packaging after opening, and away from direct sunlight and high temperatures.

Like freeze-dried foods, the air-drying process is not an equal substitute for cooking with heat in terms of bacterial and parasitic control, so extra caution must be taken in the handling of air-dried foods and hygiene control.

What our customers say: "My toy poodle has been on Ziwi Peak for six years. Her coat is excellent, poops firm and her gut has remained calm. Previous pets (prior to Ziwi) over the decades have suffered from dodgy tummies but Ziwi has been a consistent benefit for general health and satiety (they eat less) with only benefits over the year"

What our vets say: "Ziwi Peak is peak premium air dried nutrition - they have a reputation and it has been earned through many happy pet parents that want to feed a balanced more natural diet. The Lamb and Mackerel formulation provides a different taste profile for fussy small breed dogs. It can be used as a main meal, a treat or even a topper"- Dr. Nicole

Shop Ziwi Peak Air Dried Mackerel and Lamb Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best Puppy Food: Advance Puppy Small Breed Chicken with Rice 

Pros

  • Premium, rehydratable, complete and balanced diet for small breed puppies 
  • Natural colostrum added to defend against digestive upsets 
  • Designed to support heart health with added antioxidants and omega fatty acids 
  • Australian Made in resealable bags 
  • Available in a range of sizes from 0.8kg, 3kg, 6kg, 8kg and 16kg 

Cons

  • Does contain chicken meal - which may not be suitable for puppies with allergies or food intolerances to these ingredients
  • Only suitable for puppies between 2 months to 12 months of age 

If you're looking for a super premium Australian-made dry food - look no further than Advance Nutrition. Complete and balanced, this food is made locally in the Central Tablelands of NSW, by leading animal nutritionists. As an added bonus this range is available in multiple sizes, which is perfect if you have a little army of Chihuahuas to feed. 

The accompanying wet food also comes in a loaf and gravy formula - to tempt event the fussiests of pups. This affordable yet premium brand is perfect for balancing the health and nutrition of your pet as well as your back pocket! 

What our customers say: "My small breed puppies love this kibble, it's a great small size so easy to use as training treats for those who want to do some training with food throughout the day. Even my picky non-food-motivated pup loves this kibble. It will be hard to switch to a new one when they're grown up"

Shop Advance Small Breed Puppy Chicken with Rice

Best Senior Dry Food: Eukanuba Small Breed Senior Dry Food

Pros

  • Suitable for dogs up to 10kg and from 7 years of age, available in bulk with 3, 7.5 and 15kg bags
  • Additional glucosamine to support healthy joints in senior dogs 
  • Activ Advantage formulation with added omega fatty acids to improve the mind and formulated to provide optimal energy to sustain an active lifestyle 
  • Denta Defence - to reduce tartar build-up

Cons

  • Poultry based diet may not be suitable for dogs with food intolerances or allergies 

Another great locally manufactured dry food option for those who are keen to feed premium and Australian made foods for their pooch! Eukanuba has undergone thorough palatability testing to tempt even the fussiest of dogs, with a special focus on activating every last cell with the nutrients needed to push your dog harder, further and better! They not only meet but exceed AAFCO Standards and are made with only the highest quality of ingredients. 

In addition this food has been made with small breed dogs in mind - with a special formula designed to reduce tartar, boost immunity with additional anti-oxidants, added glucosamine to support the joints and optimal energy levels to keep those senior pooches active!

What our customers say: "Our old girl Bella is thriving on Eukanuba Senior small breed dry food. Very tolerable, no sensitive tummy issues, firm stools, her weight is healthy, her coat soft ; silky, kibble size is perfect. Best of all she is happy, alert and looks forward to her dinner, as a fussy girl this has been great to see her still excited for her food. Highly recommend this food"

What our vets say: "I love being able to feed a premium food for my senior pooches. I have had my very fussy pomeranians on this for a long time and its great that it comes in bulk and I have peace of mind that they are on a great quality diet. The added glucosamine is especially useful to help maintain their joint health at home!" - Dr. Emilee Lay

Shop Eukanuba Senior Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Best Health Support Diet: Advance Triple Action Dental Care Dry Dog Food 

Pros

  • Added Sodium Tripoluyphosphate to help bind minerals in the saliva to reduce tartar
  • Added Green tea to help freshen the breath and reduce bacteria 
  • Larger kibble size that enables mechanical abrasion at the tooth surface, helping to reduce the build up of tartar and plaque.
  • Beneficial blend of essential vitamins, natural prebiotics that is highly palatable to tempt fussy dogs

Cons

  • Not as good as prescription specific oral care foods 
  • Does contain chicken meal - which may not be suitable for dogs with allergies or food intolerances to these ingredients
  • Kibble size may not be amenable to all small breed dogs

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Thats what Advance is all about, delivering optimal nutrition by cominging their scientific knowledge, wholesome ingredients and vast experience to produce only the best. This dental specific diet has a three fold approach to maintaining good dental health - by not only having larger kibble compared to their standard small breed range - but added Sodium Tripolyphosphate and Green Tea to inhibit tartar and bacterial growth. 

It’s also great to see that this particular formulation has also considered the entire dog - having natural prebiotics, to help promote a healthy gut, vitamin E to boost the immune system and zinc and linoelic acid to a shiny coat - truly an all rounder. This food is available in a range of sizes to suit the needs of different households.

What our customers say: "I have 2 Maltese/Shih Tzu They eat this one combined with some meat. They like it and vet said that their dental health is very good. I am grateful that I was recommended this food 2 years go, as it keep my babies healthy"

What our vets say: "Having an army of pomeranians at home - ensuring their teeth are in tip top shape is a must. This diet is perfect and doesn’t break the bank either - also it has to be super tasty because they gobble it down without much fuss."

Shop Advance Triple Action Dental Care Small Breed

Best Health Support Diet: Hill's Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin Small and Mini Dry Dog Food

Pros

  • Scientifically formulated dry kibble diet, designed for small and mini breeds - perfect for Chihuahuas
  • Gentle fibre blend for easy digestion and healthy bowel function 
  • Exclusive blend of omega fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins to support a healthy, shiny coat 
  • Available in multiple dizes 1.81kg, 3.62kg and 6.8kg 

Cons

  • Poultry based diet may not be suitable for dogs with food intolerances or allergies 
  • Not Australian Made

Often skin and stomach sensitivties can go hand in hand and this is the perfect diet to approach both issues in one go. Hill Science Diet is scientifically formulated, with proven results and cater to a wide range of sensitive stomach and digestive issues - should a more targeted approach be needed - such as their Perfect Digestion range OR Small Bites . The extra small kibble size is perfect for even the tiniest of breeds.

Containing only the highest quality of ingredients the fortified blend of omega fatty acids is perfect for supporting dogs with dry, itchy or flaky skin whilst the unique blend of fibres encourages a healthy bowel movement. 

What our customers say: "We were given meal plans for our two mini Dachshunds from the breeder which were not suitable and after trying other diets, I opted for Hills Science Diet which i have had for many years for my late Pomeranian. There are a lot more varieties than I had for her and the sensitive stomach and skin has proven the best for our two babies...they are very healthy now and they love it!!!"

What our vets say: "I love that Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin Small and Mini Dry Dog Foods has an option designed to address the unique needs of small and miniature breed dogs with sensitivities. This diet includes highly digestible ingredients to support sensitive stomachs and includes a blend of prebiotics for balanced gut microbiota. The stand out is the inclusion of high-quality protein sources and essential fatty acids aims to promote healthy skin and coat." - Dr. Nicole Du Plessis

 

Shop Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin Small and Mini

What to look for when choosing dry food for your Chihuahua

Chihuahua's can be quite fussy with their food. In addition to the nutritional requirements needed for their small size, make sure to pick kibble suitable for their small mouths. Having such long lives, its imperative to choose a premium quality diet, that has added heart, digestive and joint support!

High Quality Premium Food

Premium foods are not only trustworthy but contain beneficial nutrients above and beyond what is required. Look at the quality control processes and product safety records of the food you intend to feed. Assess if their formulations are designed by a qualified animal nutritionist or veterinary nutritionist. 

Complete and Balanced

In choosing a food, the most important consideration after any health factors is that the diet is complete and balanced for your dog's stage of life. Ensuring that it meets AAFCO or FEDIAF pet food control guidelines is crucial to ensure that your dog receives all the nutrients they require in the correct ratios. Being such tiny dogs Chihuahuas have a much high energy requirement. 

Digestibility and Palatability

Look for dry dog food that is highly digestible. This means the nutrients are readily absorbed and utilised by your dog's body. Good digestibility is often indicated by high-quality ingredients and the absence of excessive fibre content. Learn more about the ingredients in your pet's food. Look for foods with a variety of proteins and formulations to tempt even the fussiest of dogs. 

Consider the Specific Needs of Your Chihuahua

Small Breed dogs like Chihuahuas have specific needs including much smaller kibble, appropriate nutritional profiles, ingredients to help reduce tartar and joint support. As Chihuahuas are also prone to heart disease - a diet rich in omega fatty acids and low in salt is also important. Some dogs may have special dietary requirements due to health conditions or sensitivities. If your dog has specific dietary needs, consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

Further Reading

Tips for Feeding Fussy Dogs

How To Spot A Good Pet Food

Australian-made Pet Products

Best Natural Food for Dogs

How Much Should You Feed Your Pet?