This page contains affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post through our independently chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn More
Small breed dogs make wonderful companions. They’re the perfect pet for an apartment or condo, and they are guaranteed to be your best friend for life.
If you want to enjoy your small breed dog’s company for as long as possible, feed it a healthy diet specific to its nutritional needs. You may not realize it, but small breed dogs may need a different type of food than larger breeds to meet their unique energy requirements.
Keep reading to learn more about your small breed dog’s unique nutritional needs and to receive some tips for picking the best dog food to meet those needs. You’ll also receive our top 7 picks for the best dog food for small breed dogs.
Quick Look At Our Top Picks For Best Dog Food For 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 doesn’t 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.
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.
While keeping each of these things in mind, you’re now prepared to learn how to choose the best dog food for small breeds. Here’s what you need to know:
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Small Breeds
When shopping for a small breed dog food, you need to keep your dog’s basic nutritional needs in mind.
All dogs need at least 18% crude protein and 5% fat in their diets, but small breed dogs may need a little more when it comes to fat.
Because they have very fast metabolisms, a calorie-dense diet is required to provide the energy they need.
Your small breed dog may need anywhere from 30 to 40 calories per pound of body weight to keep up with its metabolism.
Though fat is the most concentrated source of energy available to your small breed dog, protein is essential as well.
Protein fuels your small breed puppy’s growth and development then helps it maintain its lean muscle mass as an adult.
Look for high-quality sources of animal protein as the first ingredient, such as meat, poultry, or fish.
Small breed dogs do not have specific requirements when it comes to carbohydrates, but digestible sources like whole grains, legumes, potatoes, and vegetables are a valuable source of energy, dietary fiber, and essential nutrients.
Look for a recipe that contains between 3% and 5% fiber – anything too much higher might upset your dog’s digestion.
Other beneficial ingredients to look for in small breed dog food include fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotics, and chelated minerals.
Fruits and veggies provide natural sources of key nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Chelated minerals are synthetic supplements, but they are highly bioavailable. Probiotics help support healthy digestion.
Keep reading to see our top 7 recommendations for the best dog food for small breeds.
If you’re looking for a healthy, high-quality diet for your small breed dog try this Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Adult Recipe. Made with deboned turkey and oatmeal, it is protein-rich and highly digestible.
It features three animal proteins for high energy and strong muscles, plus plenty of healthy fats for beautiful skin and coat. It is also optimized to support your dog’s ideal body weight.
For an affordable dog food that will nourish your small breed dog’s body from the inside out, consider this Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food. It features real chicken as the #1 ingredient with sweet potato and pumpkin for digestible carbohydrates.
This recipe is rich in antioxidants for healthy immunity with plenty of fiber and healthy fats. Plus, it is supplemented with glucosamine for joint health and mobility.
Small breed puppies need plenty of energy to fuel their growth and development which is exactly what this Wellness CORE Small Breed Puppy Recipe delivers. Made with deboned turkey and salmon meal, this recipe is rich in protein and healthy fats for strong muscles and brain development.
This recipe is fortified with antioxidants and essential nutrients for immunity and contains plenty of protein to support your puppy’s digestive system.
As your small breed dog gets older, it needs a reduced calorie load but adequate levels of protein to support healthy body weight. This Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Senior Recipe is uniquely formulated to meet the nutritional needs of aging small breed dogs and it contains plenty of protein.
Made with real chicken and sweet potatoes, you can bet that this recipe is also easy on your senior dog’s digestion.
Many small breed dogs develop food allergies and sensitivities which means that you might need to find a recipe made with less common ingredients. This Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Bites Lamb Recipe is made with pasture-fed lamb and rice to ensure digestibility and quality nutrition.
It is rich in nutrients and full of flavor as well, sure to be a hit with your small breed dog.
It may be difficult to tell when your dog is a puppy whether it is sensitive or allergic to an ingredient in its food and many dogs don’t develop allergies until later in life.
If your small breed dog has skin problems or recurrent ear infections, however, it is a potential indication that something is not right with its food.
Consider switching to a limited ingredient recipe or a grain-free formula for a few weeks to see if things improve. If they do, you’ll have identified the source of the problem and you can simply keep feeding your dog a recipe that doesn’t cause a reaction.
Best Dog Food for Small Breeds: Summed Up
Because small breed dogs have different energy requirements than larger breeds, it is important to feed your dog a small-breed recipe.
From there, you have your choice of brands as long as you pick one made with high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and digestible carbohydrates.
If you’re not sure where to start your search, try one of our top 7 picks for the best small breed dog food reviewed above.
Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.