Asked & Answered: Dogs Vote on the Best Dog Food For Small Breeds

If you have been looking for the best dog food for small breeds, you are in the right place. Read this article to know how to choose the best food, types of food, the best brands, things to know and what to avoid when selecting among different foods. 

You might be surprised but the small and large breed dogs’ life stage and size are some of the most crucial factors that determine dog balanced diet. When talking about what is the best dog food diet for small breeds, it may differ slightly from the content of calories and ingredients fed big-sized dogs. If you got a puppy or simply a small breed dog under 25 pounds, for example, a Dachshund, you will need to find out what are their nutritional needs. 

What to know about toy breed dogs?

The thing is small dogs don’t eat a lot of food, but it doesn’t mean they don’t need quality ingredients, minerals and vitamins. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to pay attention to when trying to create a diet for your tiny friend.

Small Dog Breeds Have a Higher Metabolism

The first thing to remember is that small gods have a faster metabolism than large breed dogs. It means that they need to have more calorie diet compared to large breed dogs. On average, small dogs require around 50 calories per pound. When talking about large dogs, their diet has to include as little as 10-30 calories per pound. 

Take Into Account The Age Of Your Pet

One more factor to take into consideration when creating a diet for your pet is the age. Puppies, for instance, need more omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and calories in their diet to boosts the nervous system development and body growth. On the contrary, a senior dog might need more fiber and fewer calories.

Make Sure You Don’t Overfeed Your Puppy

When talking about dog diet, a warning notice here is not to overload your pet with love and food. That is the truth that small dogs burn calories fast, however,  they are still at risk of gaining weight. 

Also, take into account that the metabolic process is slowing down when your small breed puppy is getting older. So, make sure you don’t overfeed your small dog. 

In most cases, puppies self regulate. If you are feeding your pet often enough, it will be able to maintain a healthy weight itself. Otherwise, some illnesses and digestion disorders may arise, for example, vomiting, diarrhea and so on.

If you are facing troubles with overfeeding your pup, you might need to talk with a doctor about including in their diet proper canned food that contains fewer calories per volume. A quick tip here is to feed your small dog with tinier-sized kibble as its mouth and jaw structure are not big. 

Your Small Furry Friend May Need to Eat More Often

Based on what was said above, small dogs cannot consume large amounts of food and calories at once. Because of the higher metabolic rate, they need to eat more often. A few smaller meals are always better than one large meal. If you include in your dog’s diet a high-quality food, minerals and vitamins, you will need to feed it smaller portions. 

Small Breed Dogs Need More Protein and Fat

Because of the high metabolism, your small dog needs to consume foods containing such ingredients as fat and protein in order to support the energy, nutritional and calories requirements of toy dog breed.

When talking about protein, this is one of the basic nutrients to be included in all dogs’ diet. Not only large but also small breed dogs are carnivores which is why they still need a good portion of protein every day. The advantage of protein consumption is that it does not cause obesity being a great source of energy. 

People on diet avoid consuming excessive amounts of fats, however, these nutritional ingredients are some of the key elements in the diet of small and large breed dogs, especially small ones. Similar to proteins, fats are a great source of calories, they make skin healthy and your dog’s coat shiny. As for the puppies, they need fats as the most necessary ingredients for supporting their brain development. Small and large breed dogs that don’t consume enough fat that provides them with needed minerals and vitamins in their diet often have dry coats and their skin may even become itchy.

If you are wondering which foods that include fats are suitable to be included in the small dogs’ diet, they include those added to puppy food for large breeds in the form of fish, flax seed, sunflower and olive oil. Such ingredients as fats are also helpful in protecting joint health which is important for pet owners whose dogs suffer for arthritis. 

The amount of proteins and fats in the small dogs’ diet should be a minimum of 20% and 30% respectively. That means that you might need to start reading food labels when you are making a decision on what ingredients to feed your small dog.

Are carbohydrates recommended for small dogs?

Carbohydrates are ingredients that are considered an inevitable part of a dog diet. It takes second place after proteins due to its energy, calories and nutritional value. There are different types of carbs varying from lower-quality carbs like corn to higher-quality complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and brown rice that include plenty of useful vitamins and minerals.

Canned, Dry, Homemade or Raw Dog Food for Small Breeds?

Pet owners sometimes get stuck with the question of what type of food is the most appropriate for their little dogs. Small breed pets have tiny mouths and teeth which means that they may face difficulties with chewing large pieces of food. However, this is not the only problem that may arise. When owning a pet, you may need to consult a veterinarian about which ingredients you need to feed your small dog, dry, canned, homemade or raw and what cautions are to be taken into account.   


Dry food (kibble) is one of the most popular types of dog foods because it is easy to preserve without a need to take up the space in the refrigerator. Compared to other types, dry food is the least expensive one. Dry dog food is also quite beneficial for dog health as it helps to reduce tartar buildup. When talking about dental cleanings, dry food cannot serve a replacement for regular procedures.

When buying dry dog food, be sure to read the labels. If among the ingredients there are many cheap “filler” foods like corn, consider looking for alternative brands.

Canned (wet)

While dry food is helpful in keeping tartar from building up on the teeth, wet food has an opposite effect, that is, developing dental disease. If you are feeding your small dog wet food ingredients that contain more calories, you will probably need to visit the veterinarian more often for dental scaling than if you were focusing on dry food in your dog’s diet.

One more thing to take into consideration is that canned dog food has a higher calorie content compared to other types of dog food. This food is more suitable to feed older dogs that have sensitive stomachs as it is more moisture than dry food.

This is highly important when your dog is at risk of being overweight. While ingredients included in canned food are tastier, it tends to be one of the most expensive options. 

Remember not to leave an opened can of dog food exposed to air for a prolonged period. Better put this delicious and calorie rich, but easily spoiling dog food in the refrigerator right after you open the can.

And, even more important, make sure that you avoid feeding your dog any dog food after the expiration date!


Homemade diet for small dogs is hugely popular nowadays. When preparing dog food yourself, you can control the quality of ingredients and amount of calories to be included in your dog food. However, one might need to pay close attention to how the pet reacts to homemade food that includes sweet potatoes, beans and other foods. 

Note that this type of diet may even include raw ingredients, so loved by many pets. There is only one pitfall here. Most veterinarians claim that homemade dog food cannot be fed on a constant basis. It may be lacking important nutritious ingredients, vitamins and minerals. A tip here is to supplement the homemade diet with ready-made dog food. Dog food companies support their dog food products with necessary supplements to ensure your dog’s daily minimum is met.

While there are plenty of homemade dog food receipts out there, you might need to check for their nutrition and calories content with your veterinarian.


The reason why some pet owners prefer to prepare dog food themselves is an attempt to avoid feeding their pets such dangerous ingredients as preservatives, additives, grain fillers, animal by-products included in some brands’ products. Pet enthusiasts who decided to turn to a raw food diet must be careful of some foodborne illness and bacteria. 

Many studies conducted over raw meat diets often find that around 10 percent of raw dog foods sold at the stores are known to test positive for salmonella. Besides avoiding harmful bacteria, you will need to create a nutritionally balanced diet which is not an easy task for an inexperienced pet owner. 

First, educate yourself and try out various types of dog food, pay attention to labels and ingredients, read up on brands available on the market. Before you choose the most appropriate option in your opinion, be sure to consult your veterinarian. A veterinarian is someone who can help to create a raw food diet for your pet. One more tip here is to implement changes in your dog’s diet slowly to help your dog to easily adjust to new nutrition and ingredients.

Tips on How To Feed Your Toy Breed Dog

After we discussed the main things, tips and hacks to take into account, let’s generalize what to look for when creating a diet for a small dog.

  • High amounts of such quality ingredients as proteins and fats as well as large amounts of calories are extremely important to increase small breed dogs’ energy levels, boost growth and development.
  • Low-quality carbs like corn are considered “bad fillers”. It is better to look for products that include complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and brown rice.
  • Such natural ingredients as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are highly important for small and large breed dogs’ diet.
  • Small kibbles are more suitable for small dogs’ mouths and teeth.
  • The higher amount of calorie ingredients in the dog’s diet, stressing the importance of lean proteins and complex carbohydrates.
  • There are different types of dog foods like wet, dry, raw and homemade to be chosen based on your dog’s nutritious needs.

The Best Dog Food Brands For Small Dogs

Note that if you got a little dog, either a puppy or small breed dog, many dog food brands do offer small-breed specific recipes as well as even formulas for puppies. A tip on how to choose a suitable diet for your small breed dog is avoiding looking at the brands or prices. Instead, learn how to  read labels to provide a dog with the best ingredients. Below is a list of the top brands that offer small-breed specific dog foods. 

Purina Pro Plan Natural Grain Free Small Breed Dry Food

Purina is one of the most recognized brands in the industry and one of our top picks for small breed dogs diet. Being a grain free, it does not contain such ingredients as “crude fats” as well as gluten. Instead, it is full of minerals and vitamin B-12, A and C for immune system boost. 

Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe

This dog food product does contain real meat and sweet potatoes produced in the USA. If your dog is suffering from food allergies, you can add this gluten-free food to his diet. This food is available in beef, chicken, lamb, and salmon flavors. 

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance 

This pick is popular for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. In addition, it adds only useful carbohydrates, namely, sweet potatoes to your pet’s diet. Natural Balance Limited is chosen by many pet lovers as it is able to support your small dog with all the necessary ingredients.


It is important to remember that every single dog, either it is big or small, is unique. Dogs’ nutritional needs may differ a lot from a dog to a dog. Before you make a decision on whether to transition your pet to a completely different diet, make sure you consulted with the specialist. 

When creating a diet for your small dog, take into account its size and age to include the nutrients needed at a specific stage and for a specific breed and size.

What about you?  Do you have any faves for your small breed dog?

Stella Robinson is a guest contributor to

Share if you enjoyed this post!

Source link

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.