A complete and balanced diet is essential for small-breed puppies and adults. Small-size dogs require a diet with high energy and nutrient density. It is also essential that the food contains highly digestible and available ingredients.
In this post, I have reviewed top dog food brands for small dogs classified as;
- Overall best dog food for small-size dog puppies
- Overall best dog food for adult small-size dogs
- Best grain-free dog food for small dogs,
- Best grain-inclusive dog food for small dogs
- Best budget-friendly dog food for small breed dogs.
What is a small-breed dog?
There is no definitive answer, but generally, small-breed dogs are those that weigh 20 pounds or less. Some of the most popular small breeds include the Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle and Boston Terrier.
Toy breeds, which are even smaller than small breeds, include the teacup versions of popular dogs like the Chihuahua, Yorkie and Pomeranian.
Table of Contents
Nutritional requirements of small-breed dog;
Requires high-caloric intake:
Dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds need between 1,100 and 1,500 calories per day, while those who weigh more than 20 but less than 50 pounds need between 1,600 and 2,200 daily.
This is due to their higher metabolic rate, which means they burn calories at a faster rate than larger dogs.
Small-breed dogs require a diet that is rich in high-quality proteins to help them maintain their muscle mass. Look for a dog food that lists meat, poultry or fish as the first ingredient.
Essential fatty acids:
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for small-breed dogs. These nutrients help keep their skin and coat healthy, improve joint function and reduce inflammation. Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs are fish oil, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds.
Calcium and phosphorus:
Small-breed dogs need a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium and phosphorus. These nutrients are essential for bone and teeth development.
Low in carbs:
Carbs are not as important for dogs as they are for humans. In fact, too many carbs can lead to weight gain and other health problems. The best sources of carbs for dogs are vegetables and fruits.
Factors to consider when choosing the best dog food for small dogs:
- Protein source: The best sources of protein for dogs are meat, poultry, and fish. Poultry and fish are more digestible than other protein sources and plant-based proteins are hard for dogs to digest. Go for dog food with poultry or fish as the key ingredient and the chief source of protein.
- Fat content: The best sources of fat for dogs are meat, poultry, and fish. Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have many health benefits for dogs. Look for dog food with fish oil as an ingredient to ensure your pet is getting the nutrients he needs.
- Energy: Small dogs have high metabolisms and need more calories than their larger counterparts. The best way to ensure your dog is getting the energy he needs is to choose a food that is nutritionally dense and high in protein. A nutritionally-dense diet will help your dog maintain a healthy weight and have plenty of energy.
- Vitamins and minerals: Small dogs need vitamins and minerals for overall health. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for dogs include vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, and calcium. Look for dog food that contains these vitamins and minerals to ensure your pet is getting the nutrients he needs.
- Fiber: Fiber is important for dogs of all sizes, but it is especially important for small dogs. Fiber helps regulate digestion and can help prevent obesity. The best sources of fiber for dogs are vegetables and fruits. Look for dog food with vegetables and fruits as ingredients to ensure your pet is getting the fiber he needs.
The bottom line:
When it comes to choosing the best dog food for small dogs, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Small dogs have high metabolisms and need a nutritionally-dense diet that is high in protein and low in carbs. Additionally, small dogs need vitamins and minerals for overall health. Look for dog food with meat, poultry, or fish as the key ingredient, and make sure it contains the vitamins and minerals your pet needs.
Grain-free vs grain-inclusive diets for small-breed dogs:
There is a lot of debate about whether grain-free or grain-inclusive diets are better for dogs. Grain-free diets are often seen as being more “natural” because they do not contain any processed ingredients. However, grain-inclusive diets can also be nutritious and provide all the nutrients your dog needs. Ultimately, the best diet for your dog is the one that meets his individual needs. If you are unsure about which diet is best for your dog, talk to your veterinarian.
Grain-free diets have been linked to a number of health problems in dogs, including allergies, digestive issues, and weight gain. If you are considering a grain-free diet for your dog, make sure to talk to your veterinarian first.
Wet vs Dry dog food for small dogs:
Dry foods are more calorie-dense than wet foods, so they are a good choice for small dogs with high metabolisms. Dry foods also contain more fiber than wet foods, which is important for regulating digestion. However, wet foods can be a good option for small dogs who are picky eaters or who need to gain weight.
Dry food is often more affordable than wet food and it can be easier to store. However, wet food is often more palatable for dogs and it can contain more moisture, which is important for small dogs with high metabolisms. If you are unsure about which type of food to choose, talk to your veterinarian.
Dry foods may provide dental benefits due to their abrasiveness and ability to scrape away plaque. Some small dog breeds are prone to dental or oral issues.
If your dog has digestibility issues or a sensitive stomach, opt for wet food that is highly digestible and easy on the stomach. Wet food have high water content which can help keep your dog hydrated. It is also more palatable compared to dry food, making it a good option for picky eaters.
On the other hand, dry food is more affordable and easier to store. It is also less messy than wet food. If your dog does not have any digestive issues, dry food is a perfectly healthy option.
When to feed a small-breed dog?
Small-breed dogs have high metabolisms and need to eat more frequently than large-breed dogs. Most small-breed adult dogs should be fed two to three times a day.
Puppies from tiny breeds (like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians) weighing under four pounds at the time of weaning can be fed free choice, or divided into about 4+ meals a day. The number of daily meals may be decreased starting at around the age of four months, when 2 meals per day is sufficient.
How much food to feed a small-breed dog?
The amount of food you should feed your dog depends on his age, activity level, and weight. Talk to your veterinarian about how much food your dog needs on a daily basis.
For small and toy breed puppies that eat less, a ½ or ¼ cup is more correct than an 8-oz. or 250-ml cup or the most accurate way to weigh food on a kitchen scale.
Remember that the total amount of food consumed each day is equal to the sum of daily food consumption and treats, scraps, food used for administering medications, training treats, and so on. Growing dogs must be fed as individuals (each with his or her own dish) in a peaceful location free of distractions and competition. Puppies should have approximately 30 minutes to finish their meals and leftovers removed.
Best Dog Food for small dogs:
- Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food
- Nulo Freestyle Small Breed Dog Food
- Instinct Original Small Breed Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult
- Now Fresh Small Breed Dog Food
- Halo Grain Free Small Breed Wet Dog Food
Reviews of the Best Dog Food for small dogs:
Nom Nom Turkey Mash
Our overall best fresh dog food for small dogs is the Nom Nom Turkey Fare.
The Nom Nom Turkey Fare is a grain-inclusive, small breed, adult and puppy formula that provides balanced nutrition for the health and well-being of your pet. This formula is designed to meet the nutritional needs of all life stages, including puppies. It features turkey as the first ingredient with added vitamins and minerals to help support your dog’s immune system. The recipe also includes brown rice as an excellent source of digestible energy along with antioxidant-rich spinach and carrots to help maintain healthy eyes, skin, coat, and joints.
Nom Nom Turkey Fare is a complete and balanced meal for adult cats of all life stages. Made from turkey, whole eggs, and vegetables, this recipe delivers essential nutrients that help support your cat’s overall health. With 37% protein, 17% fat, and 39% estimated carbs, the dry matter analysis reveals a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.
We start with fresh turkey as the primary ingredient in our recipe. Turkey is an excellent source of high-quality protein which helps maintain muscle mass while supporting growth during development.
Our second pick is the Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Red Lentils Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food.
Nulo Freestyle is a grain-free, small breed, dry food for adult dogs. It features salmon as the first ingredient with added vitamins and minerals to help support your dog’s immune system.
Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Red Lentils Dog Food is a grain-free, salmon and red lentil recipe that features 84% protein. Ideal for dogs who are health conscious, this Nulo dog food formula is also made with extra small kibble to help reduce the risk of dental disease. Made with ingredients like L-Carnitine and Miscanthus Grass, it also contains low carbohydrates to help maintain your pet’s healthy weight.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org