Special Dietary Needs Of Small Breeds
When you look at a small breed dog compared to a larger breed, it seems obvious that it will need less food. Smaller stomachs have less room for food, after all, and it would seem to make sense that a little dog doesnt need as many calories as a bigger dog.
Not only could you be wrong about that, but you might have other misconceptions about feeding small breed dogs. Here are some of the things to look for in a small breed dog food:
- Calorie-Dense. Small breed dogs have very fast metabolisms which, you may be surprised to learn, means that they need more calories per pound of body weight than larger breeds. In fact, small dogs may need up to 40 calories per pound versus 30 for an average-sized dog and 20 for a large breed.
Also Read: Best High Calorie Dog Food For Weight Gain
- Antioxidants. Not only do small breed dogs have fast metabolisms, but they also have long lifespans. Feeding your dog an antioxidant-rich diet will help keep it healthy for as long as possible by boosting its immune system.
- Dry Food. Small breed dogs have small mouths which often leads to dental problems. Dry food is preferable to wet food for small dogs because it helps clean plaque and tartar off their teeth.
- Fatty Acids. Healthy fats provide a concentrated source of energy for small breed dogs, but they also play a role in supporting healthy skin and coat as well as brain development in puppies.
Cooking Our Way To A Healthier Dog Diet
Ever since I started raising my own dogs, Id always wanted to make their food at home but thought it would be too expensive or too time consuming, or that they wouldnt get the nutrition they needed.
During the month of Bugs doggy depression, I vowed to make her precious life as comfortable as possible.
Both of my pugs had a range of health issues growing up, which I unfortunately found out were common for the breed.
My older one had persistent hot spots and itchiness that no commercial dog food could cure .
Bug was overweight for a while when she was younger, even though she ate the recommended amount of food for her target weight. Eventually, I settled on Wellness kibbles and they did well with that brand.
But, I wanted to explore other options. I wanted to give them real food fresh, nutritious ingredients that I recognized and could even eat myself.
Ive mentioned in my post on homemade whole grain chicken feed that the entire household all share the same whole grains and seeds that we buy in bulk, as well as the bounty that comes from our edible garden.
Everything our animals eat, we can eat.
When it comes to homemade feed for our laying hens, we stick to a tried-and-true formula that works for every layer: 16 to 17 percent protein , vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from a wide variety of grains and seeds, and free range of a pasture for weeds, greens, and insects.
Dogs, on the other hand, arent bred for a standard function the way chickens are.
Best For Seniors: Blue Buffalo Wildnerness Turkey And Chicken Grill Senior Canned Dog Food
Its no surprise that our top pick for senior small breed dogs also comes from Blue Buffalo. This canned wet food is also high in protein to help your aging dog stay active and maintain their high energy even as they accumulate more birthdays. It also supports joint health to make sure your dog stays mobile and active as they age.
The grilled turkey and chicken flavor will appeal to your dogs canine taste buds. Many reviewers said that their dogs leaped up to eat this food, even when other brands didnt appeal to them. This is a rich food and some people said that their dogs started by getting it as a treat or as a topper on their Blue Buffalo dry food. This will also make it easy to transition to wet food when they do get older and need something easier to eat and digest.
Senior dogs can begin to have dental issues or lose teeth. Canned wet food is a great way to make sure that they get nutrition while allowing them to stay comfortable as they eat. For very senior dogs who may not have many teeth, this food is easy to thin with water as well.
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Taste Of The Wild Appalachian Valley Small
Most Popular Small Breed Dog Food: If youre not sure what to feed your small dog, you cant go wrong with a popular brand like Taste of the Wild. This brand features real roasted meats in all of their recipes and delivers high-quality nutrition in every bite. This Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dog Food is a great choice because it is catered to the unique nutritional requirements of small breeds. It features fresh venison as the first ingredient with supplemental protein from lamb meal, duck meal, and ocean fish meal. It is a grain-free recipe, made with digestible carbohydrates like garbanzo beans and peas, with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients. Overall, it contains 32% protein and a whopping 18% fat to provide 370 calories per cup.
- Pros: Real venison first ingredient, plenty of supplemental protein, rich in healthy fats, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotic supplements, chelated minerals
- Cons: Contains some plant protein , could be higher in calories
Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food Adult Small Breed With Turkey And Oatmeal
Wellness Pet Foods has been a respected provider of nutritionally sound dog foods since its inception nearly 25 years ago. Launched in 1997 by a team of veterinarians, food scientists and animal nutritionists, it has earned a solid reputation as a leader in the pet food industry, and is a brand many pet owners and veterinarians trust. Now part of the Wellness Pet Company, it offers a wide array of dog foods for large, small and medium breeds alike.
Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food Adult Small Breed with Turkey and Oatmeal is a high-protein formula made especially for small dogs. It contains no meat by-products and is sourced from deboned turkey, salmon meal and chicken meal, as well as healthy grains like barley, sorghum, and oats. It contains a balanced mix of antioxidants and omega fatty acids to support your small dogs immune system, skin and coat, and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
Note: If your small dog is a bit on the chubby side, try Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food with Turkey and Brown Rice. Its got a similar nutritional profile, but with a lower fat content and fewer calories
As with small breed dog foods, choose a high quality food from a respected manufacturer. In addition to the labels mentioned above, some well-respected adult dog foods include:
How Much Protein Does My Dog Need
Your new puppy needs at least 18% of dry matter, while adult dogs would need a minimum of 8% dry matter. Although, this depends on if you are feeding the dogs high-quality protein meals.
AAFCO advises all pet parents to feed their pets daily with a minimum of 22% dry matter for pups and 18% dry matter for adult dogs.
Tip: Dont cheat yourself by feeding your puppies excess protein. It has no added advantages instead, it could form health hazards.
Bonus: Solid Gold Mighty Mini Gut Health Small & Toy Breed Dog Food
With a name like Solid Gold, this is certainly a brand you expect a lot from. Theres good newsthe brand delivers! With Solid Gold mighty mini gut health small breed dog food blend, youre getting a potent, high-quality blend formulated to keep your doggos belly happy. This chicken and pumpkin recipe is grain and gluten-free, making it a good option for dogs with allergies, too. Whole foods and 90 million active probiotics help ensure that your dogs digestive health never wavers, and hell love the incredible taste of the chicken and pumpkin mix. This product is available on Chewy.com and comes in a four-pound or eleven-pound bag.
Also Check: Can I Buy Dog Food With Ebt
How Often Should I Feed My Small Breed Puppy
Puppies usually require 3-5 feedings in a day. You can use the calorie guide on your dogs food packaging and divide that into several meals to ensure you are feeding just the appropriate amount of food. A typical feeding schedule is 6 am, noon, 6 pm. However, it is important to adjust this pattern for your small breed puppy and ideally feed them 4-6 times a day.
Iams Proactive Health Smart Puppy Small Breed
Proactive Health Smart Puppy Small Breed is one of 12 dry recipes included in our review of the Iams Proactive Health product line.
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, ground whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, dried beet pulp
- Type: Grain-inclusive
- Best for:Small breed puppies
This Iams product takes the vast majority of its animal protein from fresh chicken. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 33% protein, 20% fat and 39% estimated carbs which produces a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.
A high-quality recipe ideal for small breed puppies.
Sample buyer reviewI highly recommend Iams small bites puppy food. Great nutritional value and a great price. You get what you pay for in dog food. My Boston Terrier pup loves it!
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Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food Best Overall
Diamond Naturals may not be as well-known as some other brands, but their Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is perfect for small breed puppies. It includes probiotics in every bite to establish a healthy gut biome from the beginning. It is made with real cage-free chicken as the first ingredient and a variety of veggies and fruits. These veggies arent just fillers, either. Instead, highly nutritious veggies like kale, pumpkin, blueberries, and oranges are included to increase the foods nutritional value.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are included throughout the formula to support a healthy coat and skin, which is especially important for smaller puppies with sensitive skin. It is made with no corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. This formula is made in the USA using scientifically advanced food safety protocols, leading to fewer dangerous recalls.
This formula even includes things like natural DHA to support brain and vision health. Plus, its pretty inexpensive to boot! It was easy to pick this formula as the best puppy food for small breeds.
Despite a few low-quality ingredients, this is easily the best small breed puppy food for the money.
This food is made in the USA, but the ingredients are sourced from around the globe.
This food also doesnt include any added DHA or other nutrients commonly included in puppy dog food. This is a significant reason why it was rated so low in our reviews.
Do Small Breeds And Large Breeds Need Different Food
All dogs have the same basic nutritional needs because, while there may be dozens of different breeds, they are all of the same species.
Dogs are not obligate carnivores like cats, but they do need a diet high in protein, ideally from animal-based sources. Healthy fats provide a concentrated source of energy for dogs as well as support for skin and coat. All dogs need a balance of these two nutrients, but there are some slight differences depending on the breed size.
Small-breed dogs have very fast metabolisms. This means that, while they may need fewer calories per day than a larger dog, they actually need more calories per pound of body weight. Small breed dog food tends to be higher in fat than regular food to provide for the higher calorie requirements of small dogs.
Though small dogs need a higher concentration of calories, it all needs to be packed into a smaller portion and, ideally, smaller kibbles. A small dog can only eat so much, so he needs to get all of the protein, calories, and essential nutrients in a smaller package. You also have to remember that small dogs have smaller stomachs, so they cant eat as much at once as a larger dog.
These are some of the reasons you need to buy specific dog food for small breeds instead of just giving your dog regular kibble. Keep reading to learn what to look for in the best food for small dogs.
Recommended Reading: Wellness Core Puppy Food Reviews
Best Dry Dog Food For Seniors
Typically, you might consider a senior dog food around age 6 or 7 for a large breed, and around 10 or 12 for a small, says Richardson. The right food for a senior dog depends on the specific senior and how they’re doing, says Shepherd. If they’re maintaining a healthy weight and muscle tone, their stool is well-formed, and they’re enjoying their food, you may not even need to change their diet.
That said, there are lots of dog foods tailored specifically to the needs of older dogs who may have certain health issues. “Senior diets are formulated to target some of the common ailments of older pets, such as joint health, digestive health, immune health, and possibly others,” says Swanson.
Senior dog food is usually easier to digest and may be lower in calories since older dogs aren’t always as active. Food for senior dogs may be higher in protein to help maintain their muscle, fiber to help them stay regular, and extra antioxidants to limit oxidative stress and keep their immune system healthy. You may also see omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive performance because some senior dogs suffer from cognitive dysfunction, aka “doggy dementia.”
For older dogs, a bit of extra protein is a plus. As long as your dog doesn’t have any health conditions, look for a senior dog food that’s lower in fat and calories and has extra protein beyond the AAFCO minimum of 18%.
Our senior dog food picks are protein packed and have nutritional boosters that can support an older dog’s changing needs.
Best Wet Food For Puppies
Dry food isn’t the only option for puppies. Wet food is another tasty option and offers several advantages for puppies. “Wet food can help puppies transition from a liquid diet to solid food,” says Shepherd. She adds that this transition, which should begin before a puppy is fully weaned, helps puppies accept solid food and learn how to drink water.
Wet food is also easy for puppies to eat. Without sturdy adult teeth, young puppies can struggle to munch on dry kibble, making wet food’s soft and moist texture ideal. In addition, wet food is packed with flavor, providing tasty enticement for a picky or hesitant eater. However, Shepherd recommends consulting your veterinarian if your puppy’s appetite is poor as there may be an underlying condition.
When reading a label for wet puppy food, look for the AAFCO statement that says the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for growth or all life stages. Also, remember that wet food tends to cost more than kibble and needs to be refrigerated and used within a few days to prevent spoiling.
Wet food certainly has its benefits for puppies, but it’s not a necessity. “The decision to feed dry versus wet food is very individual, depending on the individual puppy’s needs and owner’s desires and resources,” says Shepherd.
Our picks for wet puppy food:
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Freshpet Vital Complete Meals Grain
Made with wholesome chicken, carrots, and sweet peas, this blend is both tasty and potent when it comes to vitamins and minerals. The blend is completely grain-free, so you can give your dog only the best ingredients to keep him healthy and prevent conditions like obesity. The blend contains plenty of Omega-3s and 6s to promote healthy skin and coat, and youll love the low prices that FreshPet has to offer. This food is available directly from PetCo, and comes in a one-pound package. This isnt meant to be a daily dog food, but rather a single-serve meal pouch.
Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food
Nutro Ultra Adult is one of 9 recipes included in our review of the Nutro Ultra dry product line.
- First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain sorghum, whole grain barley, whole grain oats
- Type: Grain-inclusive
- Price:About 1.98 per pound
- Best For: Adult dogs
- See all 9 available recipes
This specific Nutro Ultra Adult formula gains most of its meat protein content from chicken and chicken meal. Our dry matter label study reveals the recipe contains 27% protein, 17% fat and 49% estimated carbs resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.
Typical buyer reviewI tried another brand before this and it made my dog sick. He refused to eat it. My vet recommended Nutro and in my research I came across Nutro Ultra. The ingredients are what sold me. Weve been using this brand for over a year. Both dogs have the shiniest coats , are in great shape, and are happy campers.
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Water Is An Essential Requirement
Water is essential to life. It is the most important nutrient in adult dog food or younger ones. Helping your puppies to get sufficient water intake daily regulates their body temperature and keeps their joints well-lubricated.
More importantly, water aids the digestion of food after feeding.
You can also mix whatever healthy supplement in your pets drinking bowl and make him ingest it by adding water.