Healthy dog food is crucial when it comes to building a healthy Chihuahua. Chihuahuas, and people, need a variety of nutrients to stay healthy:
- Carbohydrates are starches, sugars, fiber. They aid in digestion and elimination and provide energy and the proper assimilation of fats. Excess carbohydrates are stored in the body for future use.
- Protein can come from meat or vegetable sources. It isn’t stored in the body, so your dog needs to eat it every single day. The body uses protein for bone growth, tissue healing and the daily replacement of body tissues burned up by normal activity.
- Fats are necessary as an energy source. They also add suppleness to your dog’s skin and luster to her coat. However, excess fat is stored under the skin and can lead to an overweight dog.
Fat balance is important. Too much fat leads to the same obesity problems that humans suffer, and too little robs your Chihuahua of necessary protection from changes in temperature and can make her overly sensitive to cold.
Vitamins and minerals
One of the essentials of a healthy dog food are vitamins and minerals. It has a huge role in keeping your Chihuahua healthy:
- The body uses vitamin A for fat absorption; it’s also necessary for a healthy, shiny coat, for normal growth rate, good eyesight, and reproduction.
- The B vitamins protect the nervous system and are necessary for normal coat, skin, appetite, growth, and vision.
- Dogs synthesize vitamin C in the liver, so this vitamin isn’t often mentioned in an analysis of commercial dog food or vitamin supplements. Some breeders add it to the diet anyway.
- Healthy bones and teeth and good muscle tone are dependent on vitamin D, but the vitamin must be ingested in the correct ratio with calcium and phosphorus.
- Vitamin E is associated with the proper functioning of the muscles and the internal and reproductive organs.
- Most dogs can synthesize vitamin K in their digestive tracts, and this vitamin is essential to normal clotting of the blood. If your Chi seems to bleed too long from minor cuts, mention it to your veterinarian. This could indicate a deficiency of vitamin K.
- A puppy’s body must receive calcium and phosphorus in the correct ratio to provide protection from rickets, bowed legs, and other bone deformities. They also aid in muscle development and maintenance.
- Potassium is necessary for normal growth and healthy nerves and muscles.
- Sodium and chlorine boost your Chihuahua’s appetite and enable her to enjoy a normal activity level.
- Magnesium is necessary to prevent convulsions and nervous system disorders.
- Iron is needed for healthy blood and prevents fatigue from anemia.
- Iodine prevents goiter in dogs the same way it does in people.
- Copper is necessary for growing and maintaining strong bones. It also helps prevent anemia.
- Cobalt aids normal growth and keeps the reproductive tract healthy.
- Manganese also aids growth and is necessary for healthy reproduction.
- Zinc promotes normal growth and healthy skin.
Check out the label
To make sure that you’re buying healthy dog food for your Chi, start by taking a look at the nutrition labels. Look for the words “complete and balanced”. This tells you that the food meets specific nutritional requirements set by the AAFCO for either adults (“maintenance”) or puppies and pregnant/lactating females (“growth and reproduction”). The label must state the group for which it is intended. If you’re feeding a puppy, choose a “growth and reproduction” food.
The label also includes a nutritional analysis, which lists minimum protein, minimum fat, maximum fiber and maximum moisture content, as well as other information. You won’t find carbohydrate content because it’s everything that isn’t protein, fat, fiber, and moisture.
The nutritional analysis refers to crude protein and crude fat – amounts determined in the laboratory. This analysis is technically accurate, but it does not tell you anything about digestibility – how much of the particular nutrient your Chihuahua can actually use. For information about digestibility, contact the manufacturer (check the label for a phone number and website).
Virtually all commercial puppy foods exceed the AAFCO’s minimal requirements for protein and fat, the two nutrients most commonly evaluated when comparing foods. Protein levels in dry puppy foods usually range from about 26 to 30 percent; for canned foods, about 9 to 13 percent. The fat content of dry puppy foods is about 20 percent or more; for canned foods, 8 percent or more. Dry food values are larger than canned food values because dry food contains less water.
Finally, check the label ingredients, listed in descending order by weight. Manufacturers are allowed to list separately different forms of a single ingredient. The food may contain things like meat byproducts, meat, bone meal and animal fat, which don’t sound appealing but are nutritious and safe for a dog.
Higher quality foods have meat or meat products near the top of the list, but you don’t need to worry about grain products as long as the label indicates that the food is nutritionally complete. Dogs are omnivores (not carnivores, as commonly believed), so all healthy dog foods are well balanced in animal and plant ingredients.