The Chihuahua's Special Dietary Needs
Proper nutrition keeps these little dogs fit, healthy and happy.
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Sometimes I recommend that a very active Chihuahua continue to be fed puppy food, because the nutrient density is higher, says Dr. Carey. Active dogs should receive multiple feedings of nutrient-dense food. Food for couch potatoes should contain less fat.
Owners of older and inactive adult dogs should strive to maintain their dogs ideal weight, which will be more difficult to do as the dog ages and as body composition changes. At age 8, a Chihuahua is a senior from a metabolic standpoint, says Dr. Carey. It then becomes necessary for the dogs body to work to retain muscle tissue, which protein helps to do. The amount of protein a dog takes in is directly proportional to total body protein synthesis, or the amount of protein the body can make for the organs to use. At this age, he says, the changes will be subtle, but they're happening. By age 12, 13 or 14 years, retaining muscle mass becomes especially important, when backbones and shoulder blades start to show and muscle tissue is increasingly diminished.
Dr. Carey was involved in a research study conducted from 1988 to 1992, the results of which determined that protein did not cause liver or kidney damage or disease, nor was it responsible for renal failure. However, he's not surprised that many breeders, enthusiastsand even some veterinariansstill believe that protein is harmful because the results weren't reported until 1994. It takes awhile for that type of information to trickle down, he says, and it takes even longer for people to change their opinions about something that was held as truth for so long.
Logically, breed enthusiasts might assume that protein contributes to renal failure or kidney disease, because senior dogs, which may have an increase of protein in their diet to maintain body condition, can develop kidney disease with the onset of aging. Again, Dr. Carey dispels those myths: Protein doesn't cause kidney diseaseage does. As a dog ages, organs begin to fail. Chihuahuas aren't any more prone to renal or kidney disease than other dogs. Of course, once a dog develops kidney disease, protein intake must be regulated, but the protein doesn't cause the disease.
Dr. Carey explains that a quality premium food that contains 30 to 33 percent protein is considered adequate.
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