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Why Won’t My Chihuahua Eat? 10 Reasons and What To Do!

Last Updated: April 24, 2024

Chihuahuas are tiny bundles of joy. In my experience pampering and raising Chihuahuas, I can confidently say how they can grab your heart in no time. However, a common concern among many Chihuahua owners is when their dog won’t eat. No doubt, it can leave you panicking suddenly as your little Chi can seem weak, lethargic, and behave unusually.

A Chihuahua may deny eating due to these reasons – change of surrounding, illness, dental issues, anxiety, the effect of medicines, aging, food allergies, the effect of vaccinations, eating too many treats, or being bored with regular food.

Whenever you find a problem, it’s appropriate to start with the root cause. The same goes well with addressing the eating behavior of your Chihuahua. Having spent years fostering, raising, and pampering Chihuahuas, I’ve crafted this guide for you to determine the cause and also redirect you with relevant solutions.

Let’s get started!

Why Won't My Chihuahua Eat?
Why Won’t My Chihuahua Eat

Chihuahua Not Eating? Here’s Why

I always believe that raising a dog also means educating oneself on breed characteristics. I have a German Shepherd at home, and since the day she came in, I’ve always tried to educate myself on every little thing that matters for her well-being.

Likewise, my neighbor has 3 Chihuahuas, and I foster them regularly. One thing that goes without saying is about the tiny, sensitive stomach of Chihuahuas. A research article states that the dilatation capacity of a small dog’s stomach is only 0.5L per hour, and this varies with the dog’s size. As a result, if you’re overfeeding your little bundle, you’re probably going to put him at stake.

Here’s a calculator that I use to feed the right portion of food to the dogs that I care for.

Dog Food Calculator

Having said that, when your Chihuahua denies even a small portion of food, it could be a red flag. There are several reasons why your Chihuahua may be avoiding their food, ranging from minor issues to more serious underlying health problems.

Let’s look at these:

  1. Change of surroundings: If you have recently moved or your Chihuahua is in a new environment, it may take some time for them to adjust. This can lead to a loss of appetite. To help your Chihuahua adapt, try to maintain a consistent routine and provide them with a comfortable and familiar space in the ideal temperature fitting your dog’s health. Gradually introduce them to their new surroundings and make sure they have access to fresh water and food.
  2. Dental problems: Dental problems such as tooth decay or gum disease can cause pain and discomfort, making it difficult for your Chihuahua to eat. The Carson Animal Hospital believes that Chihuahuas are more likely to catch a dental issue compared to other breeds, and this is due to the small size of the mouth that accumulates tartar at a faster pace.
  3. Illness or disease: If your Chihuahua is sick, they may lose their appetite. Illnesses such as kidney disease or liver problems can also cause nausea and vomiting, which can further reduce their appetite. If your Chihuahua is in the heat phase, it can also affect her appetite.
  4. Anxiety or stress: Chihuahuas are known to be anxious dogs and can experience stress in various situations, such as when they are left alone or when there are changes in their routine. This can lead to a loss of appetite. You can also try using calming aids such as pheromone sprays or supplements. Having said that, Chihuahuas are prone to separation anxiety, so you need to develop an action plan and redirect the stressful behavior to an engaging activity.
  5. Medications: Some medications can cause inappetence in Chihuahuas. If your Chihuahua is on medication and is not eating, talk to your vet about adjusting the dosage or switching to a different medication. The Animal Medical Center states that antibiotics, chemotherapy, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can significantly impact the appetite level of Chihuahuas.
  6. Aging: As Chihuahuas get older, they may experience a loss of appetite due to age-related health issues such as dental problems or digestive issues. To help your aging Chihuahua maintain a healthy appetite, make sure they have access to fresh water and food at all times. You can also try feeding them smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to make it easier for them to eat.
  7. Food allergies or sensitivities: Chihuahuas can develop food allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients in their food. This can cause digestive issues and a loss of appetite. To address this issue, try switching to a different brand of food that does not contain the problematic ingredient. Talk to your vet for recommendations on the best food for your Chihuahua’s specific needs.
  8. Recent vaccination: Some Chihuahuas may experience a loss of appetite after receiving a vaccination. This is usually a temporary issue and should resolve on its own within a few days. If it doesn’t, you need to check if there’s an interrelating cause or an unexpected side effect of the vaccine.
  9. Eating too many treats or table scraps: Chihuahuas are small dogs and can easily become overweight if they are overfed or given too many treats or table scraps. Not to forget, they can be picky eaters as well. This can lead to disinterest in their regular food. To fix this issue, try to limit the number of treats and table scraps you give your Chihuahua and make sure they are not overfed.
  10. Boredom with the same food: Chihuahuas can become bored with their regular food and may lose their appetite as a result. Try switching to a different brand of food or offering your Chihuahua a variety of foods. You can also try adding some variety to their diet by offering them healthy snacks such as fruits or vegetables.

These are all several reasons to help you assess your dog’s condition. Nevertheless, you should also confirm your dog’s health condition in the first place.

“Choose foods according to the age of your Chihuahua.”

This is where most dog owners go wrong. Giving a hard food item to an aged Chihuahua can only deter him from eating further. Instead, you should go for moist foods or add a topping such as yogurt or unsalted broth to soften the food.

Below is a photo of Poppy, one of my neighbor’s Chihuahuas who adores a yogurt topping on her food to moisten it up.

Silver Chihuahua Eating
Poppy the Chihuahua eating

How Long Can A Chihuahua Go Without Eating?

Generally, a healthy adult Chihuahua can go without food for up to 2-3 days, but any longer than that can lead to serious health issues.

If your Chihuahua has not eaten for more than a day or two, it’s important to take action. Not eating can lead to dehydration, weakness, and other problems. I would urge caution with young puppies and take professional advice after 24 hours of not eating.

If your Chihuahua refuses to eat and is also experiencing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, it’s important to get expert help. These symptoms can indicate an underlying health issue that needs to be investigated.

Caution! Monitor your Chihuahua’s water intake and make sure they are staying hydrated. 

How To Make A Picky Chihuahua Eat

It can be frustrating and concerning when your Chihuahua is not eating. I’ve been there with my dog, and I know how it feels. However, the hard fact is that some Chihuahuas are picky about food and like to eat small quantities of food at multiple intervals.

Don’t compromise on the nutrition levels of food!

Sometimes, feeding multiple times can cause owners to get lethargic, and they compromise on checking nutrient levels. A research study states that undernutrition in dogs can affect the recovery of an ailing dog and also increase the vulnerability of a healthy dog to new deficiencies.

If your Chihuahua is not eating, there are several things you can do to help stimulate their appetite and encourage them to eat.

  • Try offering your Chihuahua a variety of foods. Chihuahuas can become bored with their regular food, so offering them different foods can help to stimulate their appetite. You can try offering them different types of protein, such as chicken or beef, or adding some healthy snacks, such as fruits or vegetables, to their diet.
  • Make mealtimes more appealing. Try feeding them in a quiet and comfortable space, away from distractions such as other pets or loud noises. You can also try warming up their food or adding some low-sodium chicken broth to make it more appealing. Here’s where to go for tons more ideas, 15 Easy Foods To Mix With Dry Dog Food. (For Fussy Eaters).
  • Try offering them smaller amounts of their favorite food throughout the day. You can also try hand-feeding them or using a syringe to feed young puppies small amounts of food and water.
  • Use an interactive dog feeder that can make your Chi’s mealtimes fun. These are perfect if your dog is easily distracted by his environment. I love the Outward Hound Fun Feeder on Amazon, as it really helps to engage your dog during mealtimes. You can also get multiple sizes and different ridge patterns.
  • Change your Chihuahua’s bowl. Some dogs don’t like to see their reflection in stainless steel or glass bowls, so you could try switching to a ceramic one instead. Head over to this article for greater insight on this topic, 5 Reasons Your Dog Refuses to Eat from a Metal Bowl.
  • Remove the feeding bowl if your dog refuses to eat. If your dog refuses his meal, take his bowl away after 15 minutes and then only put it down again a few hours later. Taking the food away can raise its perceived value and can motivate your Chi to finish it the next time it is made available.

You can also check this helpful video for handy solutions:


Why Won’t My Chihuahua Eat Dog Food?

Your Chihuahua may stop eating dog food due to one of these reasons – dental issues, boredom, internal health problems, or he has developed a food allergy or sensitivity. However, once you’ve ruled out any medical problems, change the flavor or type of dog food to make it more appealing and flavorful, and add variety.

My Chihuahua Isn’t Eating But Acting Normal

If your Chihuahua isn’t eating but acting normal, he could potentially be in the early stages of a health issue or may simply be bored of the food. You can change the diet pattern and also see if the behavior reduces. Usually, dogs tend to eat in 2 days if they decide to go on a hunger strike.

Final Thoughts

A loss of appetite in your Chihuahua can be concerning, but you must identify the underlying issue as the first step and then sort it out with an action plan. In fact, a healthy diet can promote better physical and mental health conditions for Chihuahuas.

Undoubtedly, your bond increases with your Chihuahua when you interact and make mealtimes more appealing. So, when your little one stops eating, don’t get annoyed! Instead, solve it together, and you’ll find the process more enticing than anything!

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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