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Dog Food Nutrition

Best Dog Foods For Maltese Dogs

April 3, 2019

Best Dog Foods For Maltese Dogs

With a flowing white coat and soulful black eyes, the little Maltese is a remarkably beautiful dog. The breed has been known in the Mediterranean for over 2500 years. These playful little companions are mentioned in Greek and Roman literature.

The Maltese is a very small dog but they are lively and make very good house pets. Many people today choose to keep their dog in a shorter pet trim so they won’t have to do as much grooming.

For people affected by dog allergies, the Maltese has a single coat (no undercoat) and doesn’t shed very much.

They are often recommended for people with dog allergies. The breed does have a few health issues that can be affected by their diet. We can advise you about the best dog foods for Maltese.

As a breed, the Maltese typically has a very long life, living up to 15 years.

Quick Links: Our Top 5 Picks For Best Dog Foods For Maltese

  1. Royal Canin Maltese Adult Dry Dog Food
  2. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Toy Breed Formula
  3. Eukanuba Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
  4. Hill’s Ideal Balance Small Breed Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult
  5. Nature’s Logic Canine Beef Meal Feast Dry Dog Food
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Editor's Choice

Royal Canin Maltese Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Good palatability
  • Omega fatty acids keep your Maltese’s skin and coat healthy
  • Perfect for the faster metabolism of a Maltese
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Best Affordable

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Recipe
  • Rich in quality animal proteins
  • Digestible carbohydrates
  • DHA for brain development
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Best for Seniors

Eukanuba Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Easy to digest
  • Formulated specifically for small breed dogs
  • Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
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Best for Allergies

Hill's Ideal Balance Small Breed
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains no corn, wheat or soy
  • Formulated for small breed dogs
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Best for Puppies

Nature's Logic Canine Beef Meal Feast Dry Dog Food
  • Nutrient-dense and meat-based
  • Beef meal is the first ingredient in this formula
  • This food is nutrient-dense and meat-based
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Our criteria

We try to use the criteria recommended by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association when choosing foods for the Maltese and other dogs. We look for foods that meet the following criteria as much as possible:

  • Foods that are AAFCO-approved, preferably with food trials.
  • We prefer companies that do nutritional research.
  • We like dog foods that have been formulated by veterinary nutritionists.
  • Good quality control is essential.
  • Nutrition is more important than marketing. Remember that you won’t be eating the food, your dog will. It’s important to choose a food that is nutritious for your dog even if the ingredients don’t sound appealing to you.

We also consider the recent warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which advised that there could be a link between grain free dog foods, foods that used exotic ingredients, and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. The FDA continues to investigate at this time. You can read the latest research in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

For these reasons we aren’t recommending grain free dog foods at this time. If your dog has food allergies or a health issue that requires a special diet such as a grain free food, work with your veterinarian to find a suitable dog food.

We are recommending the best dog foods for Maltese which meet our criteria.

Best dog foods for Maltese Reviewed

Royal Canin Maltese Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein: 22%
  • Fat: 16%
  • Fiber: 3.3%
  • Calories: kcal/cup 317

Small breeds like the Maltese can have some special nutritional requirements. They burn up more calories per pound than larger dogs. Our top pick for the best dog food for Maltese is Royal Canin Maltese Adult Dry Dog Food.

Not only does Royal Canin make foods designed for dogs according to their size, but they have a number of breed specific foods such as this formula for Maltese.

For example, the kibble is easy for your little dog to grip and chew. EPA and DHA promote healthy skin and coat. Highly-digestible liver-enriched inhibitory protein helps reduce stool odor.

This recipe is formulated for Maltese over 10 months of age.

Pros:

  • Perfect for the faster metabolism of a Maltese
  • Good palatability to encourage your dog to eat
  • Omega fatty acids keep your Maltese’s skin and coat healthy

Cons:

  • This is a maintenance dog food so it is only suitable for adult dogs.
  • Royal Canin does not make a Maltese formula for puppies so you will need to feed something else to a younger dog.
  • Royal Canin packaging can be somewhat confusing since it has several languages and sometimes has different images.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Toy Breed Formula

Nutritional info:

  • Protein: 30%
  • Fat: 17%
  • Fiber: 3%
  • Calories: kcal/cup 487

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Toy Breed Formula is one of our picks for the best dog food for Maltese. This Pro Plan formula has easy-to-digest ingredients that provide plenty of energy for your small dog including chicken as the first ingredient. The kibble is made in tiny bites so it’s easy for your Maltese to grip and chew.

Added Vitamin A and omega fatty acids help your dog’s skin and coat stay healthy and shiny, reducing any itching on sensitive skin. Antioxidants support a healthy immune system.

This formula is ideal for dogs that weigh less than 10 pounds. This recipe contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Pros:

  • Specially formulated for dogs that weigh less than 10 pounds
  • Contains Vitamin A, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants for your dog’s skin, coat, and immune system
  • Contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons:

  • This food only comes in a 5-pound bag at this time
  • This formula has 30 percent protein and 17 percent fat, with 487 kcal per cup; so if your little dog doesn’t get much exercise he could gain weight eating this food

Eukanuba Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein: 28%
  • Fat: 18%
  • Fiber: 4%
  • Calories: kcal/cup 406

Made specifically for the faster immune system of small breed dogs, Eukanuba Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is one of the best dog foods for Maltese.

Eukanuba believes that dogs are best fed as carnivores so their foods contain animal-based proteins. Real chicken is the first ingredient.

This small breed formula includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. The food is easy to digest because it contains natural fiber and added probiotics.

The brand’s 3D DentaDefense system helps clean your little dog’s teeth, freshen his breath, and maintain health gums. Guaranteed antioxidant leels help maintain your dog’s immune system.

Pros:

  • Formulated specifically for small breed dogs
  • Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Easy to digest with natural fiber and added probiotics
  • 3D DentaDefense system protects your dog’s teeth

Cons:

  • This food has 28 percent crude protein and 18 percent crude fat so it is better for an active Maltes
  • This is a maintenance dog food so it’s not suitable for puppies

Hill's Ideal Balance Small Breed Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult

Nutritional info:

  • Protein: 19%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Fiber: 3.5%
  • Calories: kcal/cup 386

Made for adult small breed dogs between the ages of 1 and 6 years of age, Hill’s Ideal Balance Small Breed Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult dog food is one of the best dog foods for Maltese. It’s made with chicken as the first ingredients. Brown rice adds natural fiber for healthy digestion.

This recipe does not contain any corn, wheat, or soy; and it has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The formula includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to keep your Maltese’s skin and coat healthy.

This small breed formula contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Pros:

  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Formulated for small breed dogs
  • Contains no corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons:

  • Hill’s is currently recalling some of its Science Diet and Prescription canned foods because of excess Vitamin D. This only affects canned foods and has not affected their Ideal Balance brand but it may cause some customers to be concerned.

Nature's Logic Canine Beef Meal Feast Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein: 34%
  • Fat: 15%
  • Fiber: 5%
  • Calories: kcal/cup 375

If you are concerned about DCM and the FDA’s warning but you don’t want to feed your Maltese a food from one of the large companies that have been recommended by veterinary cardiologists, we can suggest Nature’s Logic. At this time this brand is performing well among dogs that have been tested via taurine levels and echocardiograms.

Nature’s Logic Canine Beef Meal Feast Dry Dog Food is a nutrient-dense, meat-based food with concentrates of fruits and vegetables.

The kibble is coated with digestive enzymes and plasma protein with high levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The beef formula contains 34 percent crude protein and beef meal is the first ingredient.

This recipe contains no potatoes, peas, lentils, corn, rice, soy, or chemically-synthesized vitamins, minerals, trace nutrients, carrageenan, guar gum, or xanthum gum.

Nature’s Logic uses millet instead of potatoes or tapioca as a carbohydrate to keep the sugar content low. Nature’s Logic also has chicken, lamb, duck & salmon, turkey, rabbit, venison, and other formulas.

Pros:

  • Beef meal is the first ingredient in this formula
  • This food is nutrient-dense and meat-based
  • Contains no potatoes, peas, lentils, corn, rice, soy, or chemically-synthesized vitamins, minerals, or trace nutrients
  • Contains no MSG

Cons:

  • Although Nature’s Logic reports that this is an All Life Stages formula, we do not recommend this food for puppies or pregnant dogs because of the calcium figures

What kind of diet should you feed your Maltese?

Maltese

Most Maltese should be able to eat a normal diet for dogs. Most dogs need similar nutrients in their diet unless they have a health problem.

Protein

Your adult Maltese needs a minimum of 18 percent protein in his diet for daily maintenance. A pregnant/nursing dog and puppies need a minimum of 22 percent protein in their diets. Most dog foods today have higher protein percentages than these levels but your dog doesn’t need a huge protein percentage.

We recommend that you feed your Maltese a food with moderate protein that relies on meat protein. Look for dog foods that have a protein percentage between 22 and 26 percent.

Fat

Fat is good for your dog. It makes his food taste better; calories from fat give him energy; and fatty acids are good for your dog’s skin, coat, and organs. Some vitamins can only be absorbed from fat.

Adult dogs need a minimum of 5 percent fat in their diet. Pregnant and nursing dogs and puppies need a minimum of 8 percent fat per day.

Virtually all dog foods have higher fat levels than these percentages. Some dog foods have very high fat levels so you should be aware of the fat percentage of your dog’s food and its calories. It can be easy to overfeed your dog if a dog food is high in fat.

We recommend a fat percentage of about 12 to 16 percent for the Maltese. This is considered to be a moderate fat level.

Carbohydrates

While many dog lovers have been told that carbs are bad for dogs, they actually perform many important functions. They are not “filler ingredients” or empty calories.

They are another source of energy for your dog, along with fat. They can be a source of fiber. And they can provide nutrients.

Simple sugars and starches from carbs help your dog’s brain function. Fibers helps regulate your dog’s gastrointestinal system.

Complex carbohydrates are important for keeping your dog’s glucose levels steady so he can avoid blood sugar spikes after meals. Carbohydrates can also help prevent your dog from feeling hungry between meals.

Fiber

Fiber can be either soluble or insoluble. You will often see soluble fiber on a dog food ingredient list in the form of chicory, beet pulp, and inulin.

This kind of fiber draws more water into your dog’s digestive system, turning stomach contents to gel and slowing the digestive process. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the digestive matter and helps speed digestion.

Most kibbles today have somewhere between 3 and 6 percent fiber. If your Maltese is having loose stools it could be because there is too much fiber in the food for his system.

You can try changing to a food that has less fiber and see if it solves the problem. Conversely, if your Maltese seems to be constipated, you can try changing to a food that has a little more fiber. Remember to please see a veterinarian if any digestive problem is causing your dog distress.

Probiotics and prebiotics

Prebiotics and probiotics help keep your dog’s gastrointestinal system functioning, as well as strengthening the immune system. Prebiotics are a dietary fiber that encourages the growth of “good” or beneficial bacteria in your dog’s digestive system. Chicory and inulin are prebiotics that are often added to dog foods.

Probiotics are living microorganisms that are sometimes added to dog food to “colonize” your dog’s digestive system. They can add millions of helpful bacteria to your dog’s system.

You can also buy probiotics separately and give them to your dog if you want to make sure he is getting enough friendly bacteria in his diet. It’s believed that 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is related to his gastrointestinal system which means that prebiotics and probiotics can be very important to your dog’s health.

Vitamins and minerals

Kibble is cooked at a very high temperature. Unfortunately, this means that many of the vitamins and minerals in the food’s ingredients are destroyed. Dog food companies typically add vitamins and minerals back into the food after cooking to be sure the food is nutritionally complete.

What to look for when choosing the best dog foods for Maltese

When choosing the best dog foods for Malteses we recommend the following:

  • Look for a food that is grain-inclusive unless your veterinarian recommends something else;
  • Most dogs will do well eating a protein percentage between 22 and 26 percent;
  • A moderate fat percentage between 12 and 16 percent is good for most healthy dogs;
  • Most dog foods today have a fiber percentage between 3 and 6 percent which is suitable for most dogs.

If your Maltese has a health problem and he can’t eat a grain-inclusive dog food, talk to your vet about what kind of food to feed your dog. Food allergies are not as common as many dog lovers believe but they do occur. Even in dogs with food allergies, grains are not the most common allergen. If you think your dog has a food allergy or sensitivity, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian and have your dog diagnosed instead of trying a lot of different dog foods that your Maltese may not be able to tolerate. Trying lots of foods that your dog can’t eat can inflame his digestive system and make things worse.

Special considerations for feeding a Maltese

The Maltese can have some health problems that are related to his diet. Hypoglycemia can occur in very young puppies. It’s especially important to make sure these small puppies have regular feedings so their blood sugar levels won’t dip too low. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occurs in some dogs. Like many other small breeds, the Maltese can be prone to dental problems such as tarter buildup, gingivitis and early tooth loss. Tear staining on the face is a common problem in the Maltese which can be affected by diet, among other things.

The Maltese can also have a problem called luxating patella which is akin to a slipped kneecap in a human. The severity of the problem varies. Dogs that are overweight are more likely to have a serious problem if they are prone to this condition so it’s important to watch your dog’s weight.

How much should you feed your Maltese?

You can expect a mature Maltese to be about 7-9 inches tall at the shoulder. A Maltese usually weighs less than 7 pounds as an adult though it’s not unusual for some dogs to weigh a little more. Since dog foods vary, it’s best to use calories to determine how much to feed your dog instead of cups.

All puppies are relatively small at birth but Maltese puppies only weigh a few ounces. Your Maltese will have most of his growth in the first six months.

  • A three-month-old Maltese that weighs 3 pounds would need about 265 calories per day.
  • A six-month-old Maltese that weighs about 5 pounds would need about 260 calories per day.
  • At one year, as an adult, your Maltese might weigh 7 pounds and need about 300 calories per day.

These are only estimates. Your puppy could weigh slightly more or less. You will need to adjust his calories based not just on his weight but on his condition. If your puppy looks too thin or too pudgy, you can make small changes in how much food you are feeding him.

Conclusion

The beautiful, sweet Maltese makes a perfect pet for many people. They are small, cuddly, and playful. As with other small/toy breeds, the Maltese has a faster metabolism than bigger dogs so they need more calories per pound than a larger dog.

Dog foods formulated for toy breeds are typically nutrient dense and have more calories per ounce than most regular dog foods so they can meet the requirements for your Maltese.

We hope the foods recommended here provide some good options for you and your adorable Maltese.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about dogs. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.
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