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Won't Eat

When a Chihuahua Won't Eat

If a Newborn Chihuahua is Not Eating - Weaning Issues

Having a Chihuahua puppy is a huge responsibility; they are so tiny and fragile. If you find that your Chihuahua puppy won't eat or can't seem to eat enough, it is time to quickly jump into action so that your puppy can be healthy and grow up strong. Since this breed is extremely small, even one day of not eating can severely affect its health.

One of the reasons why a newborn may have difficulty eating is if the dog was taken from its mother too early. This is what is called Early Weaning Syndrome and can severely affect a puppy that is trying to grow. 
A puppy should never be taken from its mother before the age of 8 weeks. 10 weeks is optimal. Unfortunately, in the race to sell puppies, a breeder, store or individual may sell a Chihuahua puppy before it is the proper time. 

When at all possible, do not buy or take a puppy until he or she is old enough. When the dog is forced to stop drinking the dam's milk, this can cause major problems. 

A Chihuahua puppy may also not eat, or not eat enough because of a medical issue. Before you take matters into your own hands, the puppy needs a full and complete veterinary checkup. There are many medical reasons why the dog may not be eating, including stomach and intestinal problems.

How You Can Help

Once it has been determined that a Chihuahua does not have any medical reasons for not eating, the answer will most likely be that he or she was weaned too soon. You will need to start from the beginning and essentially play the part of the mother. For very small, undersized Chihuahua - often referred to as Miniatures or Toys-  a dropper will work best. For those a bit larger, a bottle may be best.

The goal will be to feed the puppy a milk replacer. As the body takes in nutrients, becomes stronger and gains weight, he can then be weaned onto solid food.

You will want to choose a formula that is vitamin and mineral enriched, easily digestible and highly palatable. Most come in a powder form that is then mixed with water as needed. 

Do not use unfiltered tap water, since it can - legally - contain many chemicals including pesticides, factory run-off, lead, copper and even low levels of arsenic. Obtaining a filter for the kitchen tap or buying gallons of spring water are two choices.

Puppies will be hungry quite often and a replacer should be offered every few hours. The pup can be swathed in a blanket so that he feels safe and secure. It is recommended to weigh the pup once a day. There should be a gradual weight gain. 

After one week, soft mushy foods can be introduced. For a very young Chihuahua that won't eat, meat based baby foods, cottage cheese, and yogurt are tempting treats. As the pup's body becomes accustomed to food, you can transition to regular meals. 4 meals per day, plus snacks are recommended for undersized Chihuahuas.
Related Articles

Best Food for Chihuahuas - What you feed your dog will have a direct impact on his health.
Chihuahua Eating Problems - The most common issues that this breed can have and how to resolve them. 
Weaning a Chihuahua - When taking care of a newborn, there will be a transitional phase from a liquid diet to a solid one.
Chihuahua Care - Learn how to best care for this breed. Steps you can take at home to keep your puppy or dog healthy and happy. 
Chihuahua Exercise Requirements - While very tiny, this dog can be a bundle of energy. Read about the best ways to provide exercise for your pet.
Chihuahua is Vomiting White or Yellow Liquid - This is often related to the timing of food. 
Check out The GIANT Book of Chihuahua Care- The most comprehensive Chihuahua care book in the world 

When a Chihuahua Won't Eat - Puppy Age

Once a Chihuahua is old enough to eat solid food, you may want to consider home cooked food.  Manufactured dog food is loaded with additives, food coloring and worst of all... fillers. Fillers are "empty" ingredients, which have absolutely no nutritional value at all. They do make a dog feel full; however the body will not absorb any fillers (as they do not really contain anything the body needs) and they are expelled right back out again.

A Chihuahua will eat much better and have a better appetite for home cooked foods, as the ingredients will be appealing "real" food ingredients and prepared to be delicious. Most of the ingredients for excellent recipes are foods that you already have at home and you can save a lot of money. Larger portions can be made, to freeze servings so that you do not need to cook each day. Read more about home cooked recipes for a Chihuahua dog.

A healthy, growing puppy should be taking in 40 to 55 calories per pound of body weight. Small puppies often do not eat much at any one time. Meals and snacks spread throughout the day is the best method of feeding. In this way, the body can be constantly fueled. Offering a spoonful of cottage cheese, peanut butter and/or plain white vanilla yogurt several times per day is a great method for supplementing the diet.
Chihuahua standing in food dish


When we hear of an adult Chihuahua not eating, the first thing that comes to mind is a health issue. This can range quite a bit, since a loss of appetite can be due to an issue that one would not automatically think would affect the ingestion of food. 

Any injury or any disturbance in the body can cause weakness, dizziness and/or lack of appetite, and for this reason we strongly encourage an owner to have their dog checked out with the veterinarian as opposed to simply trying to make the dog eat when he or she keeping away from their food.

Tips Regarding Dogs that Won't Eat Enough

Once a dog has been cleared of all possible medical issues, there are some things you can do to encourage a Chihuahua to eat. Do keep in mind that this tiny breed does not need a lot of food. In maintenance mode, adults only need 35 to 45 calories per pound of body weight.

1) A Gradual Change Over to a New Food
If an owner has recently changed from one manufactured food to another, this is often the reason and switching back is a fast cure. However, with this being said, owners often have valid reasons to change their Chihuahua's diet...They may have decided to choose a healthier option...or it may have been time to change from adult to senior meals, etc.

In this case, a slow, gradual changeover is necessary when the Chihuahua won't eat. One would begin by mixing 3/4 of the old food with 1/4 of new..Then after 1 week, the mixture would be 1/2 to 1/2.... Another week will bring you to only 1/4 old and 3/4 new...Finally bringing you to a full change to the new feedings.

2) Hormonal Changes can Affect Appetite

Females in heat may sometimes eat less. This can be due to a combination of cramping and mood swings. Females often eat more during pregnancy and after delivery however, some eat less. We do, however, recommend having a pregnant dam checked by the veterinarian if she is not eating or is eating less. 

If you suspect that hormonal changes that occur during the heat cycle are to blame, do keep track of this. Eating less during a few weeks, twice per year is usually nothing to be overly concerned about, as long as the dog's appetite comes back as she comes out of season.
3) Look For Changes in the Household 

Changes in the dog's environment may cause enough disruption to cause a Chihuahua to stop eating. Adults and especially seniors can be very sensitive to change. Take note if there is:
  • More foot traffic than normal 
  • People have started sitting very close to the dog's food area 
  • A change in the home such as a family member who normally would not be home at your Chi's dinner time but is now home and watching a loud TV at that time 
Simple tips such as declaring the Chi's food area a "no foot traffic" zone can help. Be sure that your dog is free from distractions and has peace and quite to eat at his or her own pace.

4) Keep Food Fresh

Stale food can be very unappealing to a Chihuahua. If - in an effort to not waste food - food that is not eaten is either left out or placed back again for the next meal, this may be causing the dog to stop eating as normal. 

Place down smaller portions so that there are no leftovers. Clean the bowl between meals. Keep bags of dry kibble closed tightly and be sure to refrigerate and then warm up any home cooked food.
5) Have the Right Bowl - Some Chihuahuas are rather picky about the dish that their food is served in. Just a change of a floor level bowl to a raised bowl or vice-versa and encourage eating. In addition, sizing is important in choosing the best bowl for a Chihuahua; if it is too deep or slides, a dog may eat less. 
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