Feeding Advice for Toy Dogs

Hi All

I’ve been a frequent visitor to the site over the last few months learning what is and is not good for my dogs - it’s been very helpful!
However, I am still struggling with what to feed my two boys.

I have 2 Chihuahua’s - one 11 months and one 4 months. Both are on the small side of the breed. The older one is very fussy, and has a very sensitive stomach. For the first 7 months of his life he was on Royal Canin Toy Puppy food because a) I didnt know better and thought this was a good food and b) it was all he would eat when offered several different types of food.

Having reviewed many feeds on this site I opted to try some samples of Millies Wolfheart Riverside mix, which he loved and seemed to thrive on. We then got our 2nd puppy and he too liked this, but by the end of a 10kg bag (which lasts them quite a long time) the older one had gone off it slightly with his fussiness creeping back in, so I switched them to Millies Wolfheart countryside mix to offer variety. Both LOVE this food, however I’m finding it extrememly hard to balance their feeding amounts with what comes out the other end.

As background, my older Chi has been approx 1.5kgs since he was 4 months old. He has never looked underweight - he is a very fine delicate example of the breed. Since being on the Millies (4 months now) he matured and started to bulk out a little and has now reached a stable 1.8kgs - again, doesnt look under or over weight. The younger of the two at 4months old currently weighs 1.9kgs (he is a more solid build) and looks fantastic on Millies. He has been on it since he was 8 weeks old, his coat shines and he is growing well.

Up until the last couple of weeks they have been eating 20g each for breakfast, 20g each for lunch and 15g each for dinner. I found their poo would more often than not be soft at this level of feed, so I have dropped them down to 15g each for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However their poo is still too soft, and borders some days on being runny - the older one particularly.

I’m hesitant to drop the feed down even less than this as they already look at me once the bowls are empty (usually takes them no more than 30 seconds to wolf down each meal) asking where the rest is, therefore I am in two minds whether to go back onto the Riverside mix from Millies and see how they fare back on that, or to switch to a brand that is more suited to such small dogs, as I feel their needs maybe are not catered to by Millies with it being a “working dog” food.

They are active dogs, and get at least an hours walk each day, with the rest of the waking day spent running around, playing or trick training. They don’t live sedentary lives.

Does anyone with toy breeds have any advice, or can anyone offer me the benefit of their knowledge and experience as I cannot go on feeding them the current rate of their current food as the poo situation is far from ideal!

I ideally want to keep both boys on the same food, but am aware that the older one is approaching the 12month age that some manufacturers use as a split for going onto an adult food.

Thanks in advance.

Have you contacted Millies for advice?

I would suggest that, being toy breeds, they should be on adult portions from about 6 months old, they should have finished growing.

i can’t say for sure on Millies as I don’t know their foods well enough, what I can say is that with eden (80/20/0) a 2kg dog would need about 34g per day and an active (working) dog about 40g. somewhere between these amounts is probably about right. (Eden’s owners breed and show Chis)

The Millies countryside does appear to need a little more per day when using the comparison on this site http://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/compare-dog-foods/0671-1012/eden-vs-millies-wolfheart

Not sure if this helps or not

Hello and welcome to the forum. Thank you for a detailed history of your little Chihuahuas. I don’t have any detailed knowledge or experience of toy breeds but I do have a friend who has three short haired Chi’s at different ages. She too has had difficulty keeping the weight on them and one in particular has been suffering with colitis off and on. She has seen a dramatic improvement since starting them on a raw diet. She is working late today but I will get in touch and ask her to look at this thread. Hopefully she will log in and tell you about the problems that she has had and how things are now plus details of their current diet.

Regarding the Millie’s Wolfheart, as you say they are all for working dogs but if you want to stick with their products, as David has said, contact their advice line and see what they have to say. Usually when dogs get loose poo on this sort of high quality food the advice is to reduce the amount but as you are struggling to keep the weight on your dogs this is not a practical solution. However, they may suggest a change of product.

As an owner of a small breed, I too find that big bags of kibble are problematical. I’ve stopped buying them although it is costly because small bags are much more expensive per kilogram. I am wondering if a wet diet might suit them better. Have you thought of this? They are much tastier and the odour helps tempt dogs with finicky appetites.

If you are minded to try a raw diet without a large outlay of money, Natures Menu do complete meals in nugget format. They are spot on for little ones as you just take out the number of cubes you want, defrost and feed. They come in 1kg bags and are stocked all over the place, most notably Pets at Home. Country Hunter has four types and is totally grain free. The other nuggets have some carbohydrate in - it is a case of checking the ingredient list. However, if you are wanting to stick with kibble, please let us know.

Hi Both

Thank you very much for your replies! I was very grateful to log back in and see such promt help :slight_smile:

I have not yet called the Millies advice line as my working times conflict with their opening times, but will try them tomorrow to see what their thoughts are.

I’ve never considered a raw diet, mainly because I wouldn’t know where to start, so I would appreciate any thoughts your friend has on how her Chi’s have found it. My initial concerns are that this may be too rich for them if they are already struggling with the Millies Countryside mix, but like I say, I don’t know much about feeding raw so could be wrong :slight_smile:

I’d also not really considered a wet food because my impression was that this wasn’t great long term for their dental hygeine. Is this just hype, or can it be an issue? My fussy eater has been tempted by wet food in the past, as I once bought some to hide some medication in it that he needed to take. Again, though I found that he ended up with runny stools on it. I’m open to suggestions on this though!

Thanks again for your help :slight_smile:

Personally I noticed a big improvement in dental hygiene after switching to both a raw complete food and a wet food. I have no experience with Toy breeds though. You may have an issue with it keeping fresh thought as I imagine they would need such a small amount.

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It may be an ingredient rather than the “richness”. I think they have a page on Facebook, or email if you can’t speak to them in the day.

Again, I can only comment on people and foods that I know about and many people feed their Chis on raw or raw and Eden (or other grain free low carb food) together and the dogs not only thrive, they win shows.

Try adding a little cooked puréed butternut squash, only a teaspoon per meal, and reduce the food amount by 10% until you are able to speak to Millie’s.

You could also try a little Dorwest tree barks powder

I contacted my friend yesterday but she was very, very busy and it was her late night opening (she is a dog groomer). However, I was with her when she decided to try a raw diet. It was prompted by the one who was poorly with frequent bouts of colitis which was very painful for the poor little mite.

She initially had some improvement with Natures Menu Country Hunter canned food which is also grain free. However, he was still having intermittent problems. The Natures Menu raw complete meals didn’t go down very well with her dogs.

We went to a supplier of DAF (Durham Animal Feeds) and she bought different types of meat including tripe. The owners gave advice and my friend joined Facebook groups to learn about raw feeding. She now feeds all her dogs raw (3 Chi’s, one French Bulldog and a Stafford). She buys large bags of frozen mixed vegetables from the supermarket and adds it to the raw food. The poorly one has done best on tripe and since having this he hasn’t had any further incidences of colitis AFAIK . She has found that they have all done very well on raw and it has improved their weight.

The complete meals take the worry out of feeding raw as you know they are getting a balanced diet. Nutriment are now doing small packs ‘Dinner for Dogs’ range which might be suitable although if you cannot get them locally you will need to order online and be at home when they are delivered. The problem is that you really need just a small amount to see how they get on so might be best to go to Pets at Home as they have a good selection of raw food.

Regarding wet food, there are some really good ones now. If you go onto the Dog Food Directory and look at the filters on the left hand side you will be able to select ‘Raw Complete’ under Type and under Rating, move the slider to 4 to 5 stars. You will get four pages. By clicking ‘Natural’, ‘Grain Free’ and ‘Clearly Labelled’ under Food Properties, it reduces the choice to two pages. I wouldn’t worry too much about their teeth - as long as they have something to chew on and you clean their teeth they should be OK. I’m not sure if kibble cleans them anyway. Whatever you decide to do, stick with small, easy to obtain products, at least until you know it suits your dogs. That way you are not wasting money.

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You’re right Dottie, Kibble doesn’t clean dogs teeth, and neither do dental sticks it would seem as many owners report dogs using them with bag build ups (they are sugary/starchy based after all)

Hi, I have 3 chi’s one long legged weighing just under 4kg never had any problems with this boy he’s eaten anything I put infront of him, i also have a small male weighing 2.8kg this is the boy with colitis that dottie talked about, and i have a very tiny girl of 1.8kg very skinny and couldn’t put any weight on her even though she ate like a little pig. I tried lots of foods particularly to try and help aleviate the colitis problems with taquito we did kibble, which didn’t give very good results at all, so I moved to nature’s menu country hunter tins but with that I too was worried about teeth, but this was better than the kibble I’d tried however he was still having a couple of bouts of colitis a week so i tried their raw nuggets which didn’t go down well at all either they wouldn’t touch it or threw it back up, so i bit the bullet and went for raw using daf or bulmers these are basically done for you with 10% bone and 10% organs already added into the meat making it much easier to feed i just add the veg as a filler as dogs don’t actually need veg and i also add a raw egg once or twice a week and coconut oil, sometimes manuka honey, taquito mainly sticks to tripe but can also have some game like pheasant or venison, but i stay away from chicken with him as i think that’s a stresser for him, i also give duck wings for their teeth, duck necks or ribs a couple of times a week, we have had no attacks of colitis since being on raw nearly 4 months now so we’re doing pretty good they all love it and my little girl is finally putting some weight on and looking good. I use raw for all 5 of my dogs now and wouldn’t change back at all even though sometimes it’s a bit stinky, i just get on with it as the results speak for themselves, I do get a finer cut one for my chi’s tho it’s still a daf product but is in little plastic trays there are loads of flavours too but its for small dogs and puppies, try looking at their website to see it’s www.daf-petfood.co.uk
Hope this helps you in some way

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Thanks again everyone for your helpful replies - much appreciated. :slight_smile:

I have tried the Millies advice line a couple of times today with no answer, so have emailed but have not heard anything back yet. Will try your tip for now David - thanks!

I’ll have a look at the daf website and read up on raw. I’m not sure how I would get on with adding veg as my older one is so sensitive that if he eats 1/4 of a green bean, or 1/4 of a carrot baton then he will have diarrhea for the next 24 hours :frowning:

I’ve not seen duck wings but would be interested in trying these. I give them fish skins to chew on at the moment, and this seems to help with cleaning their teeth, and i smash them up to use for training treats as they like them so much.

Just out of interest - what benefit do these give?

I imagine that the egg is given as a different source of protein (the white is albumin) and iron from the yolk. Coconut oil is very ‘in’ right now, for humans and dogs. If you do a quick search for ‘benefits of coconut oil for dogs’, you will see that there is lots of information - here is one of them. I don’t know how accurate or well researched the claims are. Manuka honey is another product that has taken off in the past few years, for humans as well as dogs. It is supposed to have medicinal qualities, in particular support for the immune system - link.

Having had a another think about your problem, I wonder if you would be better off going for a food that has a single source of meat. The food that you are currently giving has mixed sources and there are a lot of ingredients in it which might (or might not) suit them. Cutting the quantity down is really not very useful if the dog is famished. A more simple type of food, at least for a little while might help.

One that is not grain free but seems to be acceptable to most dogs, particularly with digestive problems is Naturediet. They have some fact sheets on their website. It is readily available in many pet shops. It has very few ingredients in it, plenty of meat and IIRC the (white) rice is only 10%. A long time ago I used to give it to my dogs and I found their poos were very small and firm. Alternatively, if you wish to stay on kibble, you could perhaps consider a pure fish based product. Fish is easy to digest and it should firm up the poo. As you say, MWH is for working dogs and might not be wholly suitable for your toy ones.

You’re welcome, please let us know how things go, we may be able to offer further help and advice

I’m surprised at Millies being so hard to contact, people usually say how good they are at assisting.

I’ve managed to speak to MWH now and they have been extremely helpful. I’m going to try an alternative flavour that doesn’t have the same ingredients as the current one, as they said it sounds like my older one has developed an intolerance to one of the ingredients.

They also recommended rotating the food they have every few weeks when I find a couple of flavours that suit them, in order to try and prevent an intolerance. I’ve ordered small bags of the Turkey and Veg, and the Farmers mix to try them on.

Will let you all know how we get on :slight_smile:


Ok… So day 3 of switching the dogs over to the Turkey and Veg… Pood have firmed up nicely but both dogs have been vomiting this morning, which has never happened to them before. They’ve had nothing to eat other than the turkey and veg so I’m guessing it can only be this.

I’m at a loss for what to do now.

Any help much appreciated.

Oh dear, this is unfortunate. In this situation I usually give nothing more than a little very well cooked brown rice and chicken or steamed white fish. I tend to stick with this for a day or two before gradually reintroducing their normal food.

Why did you first choose these products? I may be wrong but I just feel that this food is created for working dogs who have different needs to your little toy breed. You seem to be keen to continue with it so perhaps it would be best to contact the company again tomorrow.

As I mentioned before, I feel that (for a short time at least) it might be worth considering a wet food. If you look at the ingredient list they are much shorter meaning that there is less chance of there being something that doesn’t agree with the dog. Also, you are not committing yourself to having big bags of food around the house that last for ages. The other bonus is that wet food is possibly easier to digest. You should find that the poo will firm up nicely as there is usually plenty of meat.

If this doesn’t appeal, perhaps look for a kibble with a single source of protein - maybe fish, with not too long an ingredient list. Keep it plain and simple for now would be my advice.

Ive given them a small but of boiled rice mixed with some scrambled egg this morning so will see how they go with that today. It may just be a bug and not the food but it seems a bit of a coincidence. We have another chihuahua staying with us this week and she’s eating her normal food and shows no sign of any sickness or diahorea.

I’ll have a look into wet food today.

It’s so frustrating that when they were on rubbish food (royal canin) we had no problems, and when I try and do the right thing for them food wise it results in them being not so great :confused:

I originally chose Millie’s as I had heard lots of good things about it and the first couple of months on it they were great. It was only once I switched to a different mix that the problems started.

I too wondered if it was a bug. However, whatever the cause, it’s best to give a light diet for the present. It must be frustrating when you know they seemed fine on Royal Canin, which is not such a highly rated food.

There is a definite trend for higher levels of quality protein and fat - for many dogs this is good and suits them but for others it is not so appropriate (IMHO). All dogs are different and what suits one won’t suit another. As you are aware, you have chosen a food that is designed for working dogs and has a lengthy ingredient list. Your little dogs could be sensitive to something in there or perhaps they would be better having a simpler product containing just one meat (or fish).

Regarding food, each owner has to find the right way to go for their dog/s. In your case I reckon simplicity and digestibility should be high on the list of priorities.

Please keep us informed and I do hope that your little dogs are soon well again.

I would get back on to Millies agaim if you are still having issues, they are the experts in their food, but a couple of things

did they eat the new food faster than usual (being a different flavour) as that could cause vomiting?

i would advise against giving rice to a dog that is now on a grain free diet, chicken, or fish, with veg (sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots and peas) all cooked and pureed together is a much gentler option, It’s what we always advise for dogs fed on Eden, and the recipe comes from our nutritionist.

if they were ok on the first mix you tried, have you tried moving back to that mix? what are the differences between the mixes?

as far as “working dog food” is concerned, that designation purely means it is suitable for working dogs and is therefore VAT free, it doesn’t mean in any way that it would be an issue for a non-working dog.