The problem is that what seems like a decent serving is actually too much for this breed. With adults being only 2 lbs. (.9 kg) to 6 lbs (2.7 kg) the amount of calories that an adult Chihuahua needs per day will range from 70 to 270.
Depending on whether you feed dry kibble, a wet commercial brand or home cooked meals, this will vary from 1/2 cup to 1 cup per day. Compared to what humans eat (it is recommended we eat 2.5 cups of vegetables per day, not to mentions proteins and carbs).
2) Not enough exercise.
It is hard to find a good balance. Puppies should not be over-exercised as this can cause problems with growth plates. Chihuahua of all ages should be walked 1 to 2 times per day.
Owners with very busy schedules may find themselves stuck in a pattern of taking the dog out for bathroom needs and then heading right back inside. In addition, foul weather plays a factor in how much outdoor activity a dog receives.
Here are a few tips to make sure your Chi burns off enough calories:
- It is best to create a routine that works best for both owner and dog. Twenty minutes in the morning and another twenty after dinner may work best for many households. There are dogs that are more willing to go for walks at certain times of the day. One Chihuahua may be rev'd up when he first wakes up; for another, a mid-day outing works better.
- Prepare in advance for days that are rainy, cold or snowy. This is certainly one breed in which clothing is not a fun accessory, but a genuine method for protecting a Chihuahua from biting cold and soaking rains. Being so tiny, this breed can have a hard time regulating body temperature; donning a sweater, coat or other protective gear will help a Chi tolerate being outside when the weather is less than idea.
- Make outdoor activity fun for both of you. Chose new walking routes to go on. Designate the weekends to be days of exploring new areas and parks. Take on the challenge of teaching your dog a new game (fetch, hide n' seek) or a new command (hurdles, weaving around poles, etc.)
3) Allowing the dog to eat off of your plate.
It can be tempting to share a bit of your food with your pet. However, table scraps are not healthy for dogs. Many human foods are just too high in calories, fat and sodium for a Chihuahua to safely eat on a regular basis.
And many owners who feel that they only offer scraps once in while may be in denial about just how often this is done. Additionally, if there are four members of the household and all are giving in to those 'puppy dog eyes', it can be enough excess to make a dog fat, even if he is receiving daily exercise.
As this breed ages, there will be a gradual decrease in metabolism. Seniors (8 years and older) will need approximately 5 to 10 less calories per day - per pound of body weight. Depending on the size of the dog, this will range from 10 to 60 less calories needed while maintaining activity levels.
When older, senior dogs
are less active - either due to medical issues or an intolerance for long walks - you have a situation where a normally healthy dog can become heavy and fat within a relatively short amount of time.
Effects of Carrying Too Much Fat
Being heavy is damaging for any breed, however the Chihuahua has a particularly difficult time with this. Here are some things to take note of:
- A Chi may become out of breath when walking. This creates a problem as owner want the dog to be active and receive proper exercise but concerns over his ability to do so seem limiting
- Excess fat will put stress and strain on the body. This will most often affect hips and knees; there can be damage to bones, joints and ligaments. In some cases, a Chihuahua may begin to have back problems.
- One of the most common complications of obesity in canines is the onset of diabetes
- There is an increased risk for heart disease