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Are Chihuahuas Picky Eaters? How to Deal with a Picky Eater

Last Updated: December 17, 2023

I foster my neighbor’s Chihuahuas regularly. They’re 3 of them, and it’s great fun to host them. But what annoys me is the feeding part. Despite giving them a range of options for each meal, two out of the three are picky.

There’s no doubt that Chihuahuas are tiny and adorable creatures with high intelligence and excellent temperament. However, imagine if you’re a new pet parent; it can be all the more annoying and can leave you confused. Sometimes, this can even develop a generalized misconception about the breed. So, are Chihuahuas picky eaters?

Chihuahuas can be picky eaters due to their natural instincts and small and sensitive stomachs that prefer eating smaller portions across different periods of the day. Perhaps, they need extra flavors and consistent exercise times to eat better.

Does that mean you need to work on their feeding pattern regularly? Fret not! You need to know about their eating behaviors and approach this case tactically. Based on my experience, I’ve written this article listing eating behaviors and exciting ways to persuade your Chihuahua to eat.

Are Chihuahuas Picky Eaters?
Are Chihuahuas Picky Eaters?

Understanding a Chihuahua’s Eating Habits

Chihuahuas are known for their small size, but they have big personalities. They are also known to be picky eaters, making feeding challenging.

Chihuahuas have a fast metabolism, which means they burn calories quickly. This means they must eat frequently throughout the day to maintain their energy levels. Dan Carey from Iams R&D department says that a 5-pound active Chihuahua can burn three times more calories than a dog weighing 150 pounds. Doesn’t that sound huge?

For this primary reason, I’d strongly suggest that Chihuahuas eat at least two to three small meals daily.

One of the key reasons Chihuahuas can be picky eaters is due to their small size. They have small stomachs and can’t eat large meals at once. This can make them more selective about what they eat. The dilation volume of dogs varies from 0.5 L to 8 L depending on the dog’s size and amount of food consumed.

Knowing that Chihuahuas are pretty small, they fall in the low range, and it’s evident that the quantity of food that can be taken at a given time is minimal. Well, that was a fact when I fed my neighbor’s Chihuahuas for the first time! You can see them in the below photo eating their dinner.

Chihuahuas Eating Dry Dog Food With Added Yogurt
My neighbors’ Chihuahuas eating dry dog food with added yogurt

Additionally, Chihuahuas are known to have sensitive stomachs, which means certain foods can cause digestive issues.

Note: Feed your Chihuahua a balanced diet with high-quality protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. They should eat a diet high in protein and low in carbs. Avoid feeding them table scraps or human food, which can upset their stomach.

Why Are Chihuahuas Picky Eaters?

There’s no doubt that some dogs can be too picky compared to the rest. I have a German Shepherd named Willow who turns picky only at times, but it seems to be a regular thing with some Chihuahuas.

“Remember, you aren’t alone in enticing your Chihuahua to eat what you give!”

So, is it a breed thing?

After researching various breeds and their eating patterns, I understand Chihuahuas are naturally fussy for many reasons. Let’s look at them one by one.

  • Sensitive stomach: Chihuahuas are known to have sensitive stomachs, which means certain foods can cause digestive issues. They are prone to digestive problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. This can make Chihuahuas more selective about what they eat.
  • Small size: Chihuahuas have small stomachs and can’t eat large meals at once. This can also make them more choosy about what they eat, as they may not have enough room in their stomachs for foods they don’t enjoy.
  • Dental issues: Chihuahuas are prone to dental problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. This can make it difficult for them to chew certain foods, making them more fussy about what they eat. It’s important to provide your Chihuahua with good dental care, including regular teeth cleanings and chew toys.
  • Boredom: Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs that require mental stimulation. If they are fed the same food every day, they may become bored with their diet and refuse to eat. Rotating your Chihuahua’s food and adding variety to their diet can help prevent boredom. This is true, and that’s the sole reason my neighbor chose to raise 3 Chihuahuas instead of 1. It lessens boredom and gives little to no room for unhealthy behaviors.
  • Food allergies: All dogs, including Chihuahuas, can develop food allergies. This can cause them to be picky eaters, as they may avoid foods that cause an allergic reaction. Common food allergens for dogs include beef, chicken, dairy, and wheat.
  • Temperature: Chihuahuas are sensitive to temperature and may not want to eat if their food is too hot or too cold. They prefer their food to be at room temperature, or they may refuse to eat it.
  • Stress: Chihuahuas are sensitive dogs that can be easily stressed. They may refuse to eat if they are in a tense environment or situation. Stress can cause a decrease in appetite and lead to picky eating.

If you understand these reasons and take steps to address them, you can help ensure that your Chihuahua gets the nutrition they need to stay healthy and happy.

Three Chihuahuas In a Basket
My neighbor’s Chihuahuas (Lily, Poppy & Molly)

How To Get A Picky Chihuahua To Eat

If you’re a Chihuahua owner, you may have experienced the frustration of trying to get your furry friend to eat. Honestly, I’ve got easily annoyed and confused when they deny their regular food. Whenever I foster them, they often ask for something different.

Getting a Chihuahua to eat can be challenging, whether due to picky eating habits or other factors. Here are some tips to help encourage your Chihuahua to eat:

  • Try different foods: If your Chihuahua is a fussy eater, it may be worth trying different types of food to see what they like. Some Chihuahuas prefer wet food, while others prefer dry food. Experimenting with different kinds of food can help you find what works best for your furry friend. If your Chi refuses kibble, check out this article, 9 Reasons Your Dog Won’t Eat Dry Dog Food.
  • Add flavor: If your Chihuahua refuses to eat their food, you can try adding some flavor. Adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to their food can make it more appealing to them. One of my favorite tricks is adding some water to dry food, enhancing the flavor and changing the texture.
  • Feed smaller meals: Chihuahuas have small stomachs and can’t eat large meals at once. If your Chihuahua refuses to eat, try feeding them smaller meals throughout the day. Chihuahuas should eat at least two to three small meals per day.
  • Stick to a schedule: Chihuahuas thrive on routine, so it’s important to stick to a feeding schedule. Feeding your Chihuahua at the same time every day can help them develop healthy eating habits.
  • Make mealtime enjoyable: Mealtime should be a positive experience for your Chihuahua. You can make mealtime enjoyable by using a special bowl or plate, providing fresh water, and giving them plenty of praise and attention while they eat.
  • Address dental issues: Chihuahuas are prone to dental problems, making it difficult for them to chew their food. If your Chihuahua is refusing to eat, it’s important to address any dental issues they may have. Providing your Chi with regular dental care, including teeth cleaning and chew toys, can help keep their teeth healthy and make it easier for them to eat.
  • Exercise your Chihuahua: Exercise can help work up your Chihuahua’s appetite. Taking your Chihuahua for a walk or playing with them can help stimulate their appetite. However, avoid feeding one hour after exercise.
  • Be aware of food allergies or intolerances: Chihuahuas, like all dogs, can develop food allergies or intolerances. If your Chihuahua is a fussy eater, it may be worth exploring whether they have a food allergy or intolerance.
  • Transition to an alternative diet: If your Chihuahua is a fussy eater, it may be worth transitioning to an alternative diet, such as raw food. Some Chihuahuas may prefer a raw food diet, which can be more appealing to their taste buds.
  • Add a vitamin supplement: If your Chihuahua is not getting all the nutrients they need from their food, you can consider adding a vitamin supplement to their meal. Vitamin supplements can help ensure that your Chihuahua is getting all the essential vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy.

Watch This Video For More Tips on How To Get a Fussy Dog To Eat…

But what if none of these work?

If your Chihuahua is consistently refusing to eat, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Stay patient throughout the process! It takes time, but it definitely happens. Especially if you’re a beginner, it’s going to take a lot more time.


How Long Can A Picky-Eating Chihuahua Go Without Eating?

A picky-eating Chihuahua can go without eating for 1-2 days, but starving after this period signifies the vet’s attention. Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycemia, and inappetence can cause their blood sugar to drop if they go hungry for a long time.

Two Cute Chihuahuas
Lily and Poppy (my next door neighbor’s Chihuahuas)

What Should I Do If My Chihuahua Refuses To Eat?

If your Chihuahua refuses to eat, you should try different types of food, add flavor to their food, feed smaller meals, stick to a feeding schedule, make mealtime enjoyable, address dental issues, and consult with a veterinarian if necessary to rule out any underlying health issues.

Final Thoughts

Picky eating is a common issue with Chihuahuas. Don’t get frustrated if you find your dog denying your food. You can still sort this out in the long run by trying different types of food, feeding smaller meals, and making mealtime enjoyable.

With patience, persistence, and a little creativity, you can help your picky Chihuahua develop healthy eating habits and enjoy mealtimes once again. So, don’t give up, and keep trying different solutions until you find what works best for your furry friend!

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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