Choosing the right dog food for your pet is a critical part of their care. Chihuahuas especially can be picky eaters, so finding a food that is both high quality and appreciated by your pet can be hard. While we can’t help you with the pickiness, we can tell you what we think are the best dry dog foods for chihuahuas in 2023.
This guide will list a range of different kibbles, as well as their pros and cons. Although this is geared towards chihuahuas, it’s appropriate for all small breeds as the problem with kibble tends to be their size and hardness. Here’s our top recommendations.
Best Grain-Free Diets
Some people do not want their dog food to include grains such as corn, wheat or rice. The reasoning is that while dogs have varying abilities to digest starch, they have no biological need for it. On top of this, feed grade grains often have mold or other contaminates such as grain weevils in them.
Grain weevils aren’t deadly like the mold, but they can be a cause of bad skin in your pet. If you’re worried about grains in your dog’s diet, there are lots of grain-free dog foods to choose from. Our top three favorite for grain-free dry dog foods for chihuahuas include:
Orijen Small Breed Dog Food
Orijen is a high-end dog food brand that deeply cares about the quality of their dog food. They have several flavor options, each of which are packed with animal proteins. Regional Red for example, features turkey, chicken, turkey giblets and quail as the first four ingredients.
The rest of the ingredients are all high quality, with 85% of the food from animal proteins. It also contains probiotics to help keep your dog’s immune system and digestive health in good working order.
The big con with this dog food is that all but the “Small breed” variety are gigantic kibble and hard as a rock. You won’t be able to rotate through the many awesome flavors they offer since the smaller kibbles only come in one flavor
Stella and Chewy’s Raw Coated Small Breed Dog Food
Raw food is a trendy topic in the dog world right now. The idea is that since dogs would eat their food raw in nature, mimicking their natural diet is healthiest for them. Proponents say that this extends their life, reduces plaque on teeth, and helps reduce disease. Critics are concerned that raw food may have harmful bacteria that could hurt the dog.
If you’re wanting to dabble in raw but without the bacteria, Stella and Chewy’s Raw Coated Small Breed dog food has their freeze-dried raw sprayed onto each bite of kibble. Freeze-dried food isn’t cooked but is completely bacteria free due to the manufacturing process.
This dog food is also grain-free, made from cage-free chicken for happy birds, and is made in the USA. The small bites are perfectly sized for chihuahuas, making it an overall excellent choice.
Buy now on Amazon
Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed
Another small breed dog food that includes freeze dried, this kibble is a top favorite with our four chihuahuas. The one unfortunate aspect of this kibble is that the dogs love the freeze dried bits so much, they will make a huge mess of the kibble sorting the freeze dried from the kibble bits.
This food also features cage-free chicken, as well as salmon oil for brain health and blueberries for antioxidants. The small breed formula also has a different beef and duck flavor, although the beef is not promoted as free range.
Best Whole Grain Diets
Just like there are dog lovers who believe grain free is best, there are also dog lovers that believe a healthy canine diet should include grains. Some of the best evidence for this came about recently, with DCM, a kind of heart condition, being linked with grain-free dog foods.
The link between DCM and grain-free dog foods occurred between 2018 and 2020. The FDA investigated the link between DCM and grain-free dog foods, but the cases of DCM fell off so steeply after 2020 that the FDA stopped investigating.
It may never be known whether grain-free dog foods had a link or not. If you’re concerned about the potential link to DCM or just think grains are a good addition to your dog’s diet, these dog foods are high quality options.
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken & Oat Recipe
The Honest Kitchen is known for making base mixes that you can use to add your own fresh ingredients to. It’s a crossover to home cooking that many welcome when they want to keep things fresh. They also carry some kibbles however, and one of them is a small breed recipe.
Chicken is the first ingredient in this food, with oats, barley and chicken livers making up the first four ingredients.
Most importantly for those worried about moldy grains and weevils in their dog’s food, The Honest Kitchen uses only human grade ingredients. This means that the ingredients going into your dog’s food at the time of cooking are a quality acceptable for a human to eat—not livestock leftovers.
This food also has a few other interesting perks like chia seeds and coconut oil.
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed
Merricks Classic Healthy Grains has chicken and turkey as 3 of the first 5 ingredients. The grains used stay away from corn and soy, which are some of the least digestible starches for dogs. Merrick’s ingredients appear to be high quality, with USDA certified meats and whole fruits and vegetables added.
They have 4 different flavors to rotate through in Small breed, including Beef, Salmon and Lamb as well as the poultry version.
Merricks has its own facilities in the United States where the kibble is made, and buy from local farmers according to their website. They also have a generous donation program, giving back to the community they live in.
Nulo Freestyle Small Breed Dog Food
If your dog loves fish or your simply trying to get away from the ubiquitous (and frequent source of allergies) chicken, this food is mostly fish based. It does contain some turkey. The kibbles are nice and small which is important for chihuahuas with their tiny mouths and frequent tooth problems.
Nulo takes planning for the needs of small dogs with a higher metabolism a step farther, and makes this small breed formula a great choice for chihuahuas.
Nulo is another example of a high quality company, started by a man in love with his dog. The owner of the company is a former biomedical engineer alarmed by the constant need for insulin shots due to unhealthy pets. Nulo was born in an effort to make a healthy food that will keep dogs in good shape.
Best Budget Dog Foods
All of these foods are great, but if you simply can’t afford to feed them to your dog, they don’t do you much good. Dog food is expensive these days, and the extreme price of dog food that can be trusted is one of the reasons I started home cooking for my dogs.
Buy now on Amazon or Chewy
Taste of the Wild Small Breed
With a 5-pound bag available for $20, Taste of the Wild small breed is a fairly affordable food. Despite having a relatively low price point compared to other high-quality kibbles, Taste of the Wild is packed with protein, and is thoroughly tested to make sure no toxins and unwanted bacteria are in the food.
In a refreshing break from many other small breed foods, this small breed recipe is made up of pasture raised venison. If you’re struggling with allergies and need a novel protein, this is a good food to try.
Buy now on Chewy
Tiki Dog Luau Bites
Need a budget dog food that can compete with some of the highest quality brands? Tiki Tog Petite Luau bites not only has multiple protein choices to rotate through, but it also contains a number of superfoods to help give ultimate nutrition to your dog.
This kibble is grain-free, and gently baked to preserve nutrition. Once again at just under $20 for a 3-pound bag, this is an excellent choice.
If you don’t see your favorite dog food on this list, that doesn’t mean it is a bad food. A good rule of thumb is to not purchase any dog foods that list “animal” or “meat” on the label. It’s fine if it says chicken or a specific animal, but if it is listed in a generic way, it could very well be a cat or dog in your dog food.
There’s plenty of evidence that it happens, with the euthanasia drug being discovered in dog food semi-regularly. At one point Rachel Ray’s Nutrish dog food was sued over dog DNA being found in their food in very small amounts.
Legally, anything that’s not labeled as a specific animal can be—well—anything, and in any condition. That’s why generic meat ingredients should be avoided.
Dog food is often the only source of nutrition your dogs get. It pays to investigate carefully. I have done my best to carefully examine all of the dog foods listed, to make sure they are as high quality as possible. It’s best to do your own research as well.
This list may be updated or changed if we discover any new information this year. As of January 1st, 2024 this is updated to the best of my knowledge. If you prefer a canned food, check our canned food list here.
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