Chihuahuas are the world’s smallest dog breed. With large, expressive eyes, diminutive size and playful personalities, it’s easy to give in to a Chihuahua begging for table scraps or extra treats. While some pet owners think that overweight Chihuahuas are cute, obesity can create or exacerbate major health problems in this petite breed.
Obesity and poor diet typically cause extended health problems such as hypoglycemia, joint issues and rheumatism.
Before beginning any diet or exercise plan, it’s imperative that pet owners consult a veterinarian regarding the diet and exercise regimen of Chihuahuas. Chihuahuas vary in size and certain health conditions may also cause a necessary alteration in diet or exercise.
Trust a veterinarian to provide an accurate weight guide for any particular dog. Owners should disclose any problems with diet or exercise (runny stool, limp, lack of interest in food or toys) to the veterinarian, who may then suggest changes in diet or exercise.
Just like people and other dogs, Chihuahuas need some regular exercise. While many Chihuahuas get plenty of exercise indoors, Chihuahuas can benefit from short neighborhood walks and supervised outdoor playtime. (Owners should beware of a small mammal’s natural predators such as hawks and the Chihuahua’s sensitivity to temperatures.)
Exercise also helps instill a sense of routine for both the owner and the dog-this can provide a feeling of accomplishment. A regular walk also helps pet and owner bond.
While walking the Chihuahua, owners should pay attention to the dog’s urine and stool, noting any discoloration that may indicate dietary issues.
Avoid Table Scraps
Most veterinarians and dog trainers recommend against providing table scraps, especially if this is done on a regular basis. Dog food is specially formulated for canine health and contains less sugars, which cause tooth decay in small breeds.
Set Regular Feeding Times
Chihuahuas should eat two to three times per day unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian. Owners can more easily measure and monitor a dog’s food consumption by setting the food out at the same time each day for a certain amount of time. This ensures that the dog does not eat more than the veterinarian’s specified amount.
Many Chihuahua owners prefer to feed their pets before and after their regular work hours for consistency. A routine feeding schedule will set healthy expectations for the dog concerning food. This can also help an owner predict a dog’s bowel movements, resulting in less ‘accidents’ in the house.
Any change in a Chihuahua’s diet should be gradual unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian. Chihuahuas are especially sensitive to changes in diet due to their small size.
Fit Chihuahuas lead healthy, active lives. They’re generally more energetic than overweight dogs and can live up to 15 years. To maximize a Chihuahua’s quality of life, visit the vet regularly and follow professional advice regarding the Chihuahua’s diet and exercise.