Image courtesy: Commons.wikimedia.org/
Puppies, being in their developmental period, need all the nutrients that they can get to help the bones and muscles develop. On the other hand, adult dogs need food to just maintain their body, due to which they do not need nutrients in the same way. What this also means is that while an adult dog can eat the same food as a puppy, a puppy cannot live off adult dog food and needs a more nutrient-rich diet.
What should my puppy's diet include?
The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) outlines the nutrient profile for growing puppies. According to the nutrient profile, puppy food contains a minimum of 37 nutrients which should include 11 vitamins, 12 minerals, and 10 amino acids. You can check the packaging on the dog food to see if it meets the nutritional standards set by the AAFCO to see if it is the right food for your puppy. While we are on the subject of dog food, you should know that choosing an economic dog food brand is not a great idea, as it may feature cheap ingredients with low biological values, that do little to fuel your puppy's growth. You want to look at trusted puppy food brands that use quality ingredients, are easily digestible, and have greater nutritional value. When you are planning a diet for a new puppy, you want to have optimal amounts of protein, fat, fiber, and calcium, not going overboard with any of it. Too much calcium and your puppy can develop a skeletal disease, too little and it can find itself in the same place. Don't forget water, one of the most crucial nutrients that your puppy needs. Dogs can survive even after losing half the protein mass and all the body fat, but they cannot live if they lose even just 15 percent of the water in the body. Be sure to refill the dog bowl with water regularly. As far as treats go, you want to keep it limited to about 5-10 percent of its calorie intake. Too much and your puppy will fill itself up on treats, leaving little space for nutrient-rich food and supplements.
Making the switch to the new diet
If you have just brought in your new puppy home, then you should start with the same diet that the puppy has been accustomed to, and then gradually make a switch to the new diet over ten days. A sudden switch can cause intestinal upsets. If your puppy shows signs of constipation, loose stools, or vomiting, then cut back on the amount of new food in its diet, and make the switch to the new diet slower.
What Is the Best Puppy Food for a Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are not necessarily picky eaters, and your puppy may be willing to swallow just about anything. This can create serious health problems, since puppies that don’t get the right balance of nutrients may not grow up to be healthy dogs. Malnourished Chihuahuas can develop skin problems and, puppies who miss a meal can even be at risk of death. To avoid an upset stomach, find out what the Chihuahua puppy has been eating at the breeder’s and have the same food ready before you bring the puppy home. If you want to change the puppy’s diet, do so gradually to avoid the digestive problems that often accompany a sudden change of food.
According to the Chihuahua Club of America, Chihuahua puppies do best when you feed them high-quality dry dog food that is formulated specifically for small-breed puppies. Since Chihuahua puppies are prone to hypoglycemia due to their small size, owners should leave the food where it is available to the puppies at all times. Frequent, small meals help to keep Chihuahua puppies healthy, and by keeping the food within the puppies’ reach they can snack whenever they want. Chihuahua breeders such as Steve and Lindy Nearman of Happy Trail Chihuahuas, who have been raising dogs since 1982, suggest that you feed Chihuahua puppies four times a day until they are three months old, then decrease to three times a day until they reach six months, after which you can cut back to feeding them twice a day. Make sure the kibble you use consists of tiny pieces so your Chihuahua puppy can’t choke on it.
The Chihuahua Club of America does not recommend that you feed Chihuahua puppies a combination of natural foods to create a custom diet for the pups. Such diets can be a great deal of trouble, but if this is what you feel is the best way to feed a pup, make certain the diet includes all of the necessary nutrients. Custom diets use either dry kibble or frozen natural foods as the base and then add other ingredients such as goat’s milk, baby cereal, and single-meat baby food. Never feed table scraps to your Chihuahua, and go easy on the dairy foods, as these can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Discuss homemade food with your veterinarian for suggestions for nutritional ingredients.
Watch Chihuahua puppies who are not eating properly for signs of hypoglycemia. Some of the symptoms of this deadly condition are listlessness, weakness, coordination problems, feeling cold to the touch or grey-looking gums, skin, or ears. Keep Chihuahua puppies suspected of having hypoglycemia warm and immediately administer a concentrated nutrient paste, a small amount of clear corn syrup, or a bit of sugar. Look for signs of improvement, and call your veterinarian right away if the puppy doesn’t get better quickly.
The Chihuahua Club of America advises that table scraps and canned foods can also cause problems for Chihuahuas, including digestive upset and diarrhea, and shouldn’t be fed to them. Some specific foods to avoid because they are toxic to dogs include chocolate, raisins, onions, mushrooms, coffee, and tea. Since Chihuahuas are so small, even a tiny amount of these, or other, toxic foods can result in death. Water is essential for puppies, and your Chihuahua should have fresh, clean water available at all times. Without it, tiny puppies can quickly become dehydrated. If your Chihuahua puppy seems ill, dehydrated, or has eaten something that is potentially harmful, call your veterinarian immediately.
More on Puppy Care
Puppy Care Basics
Your New Puppy: Everything You Need to Know
Puppy Grooming for Beginners
Fish Oil For Dogs And Cats - The Benefits Of Omega 3 For Pets
3 Puppy Diahrrea Home Remedies
References & Resources
The Chihuahua Club of America: Chihuahua Puppy Care
Chihuahua Puppies Guide: What To Feed Your Chihuahua Puppy