Food For Small Breed Dogs

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Your dog is a member of your family, and like all members of the family, he deserves to enjoy the best that life has to offer. The same goes for food! That’s why we’ve put together 2 brand-new lines of natural dog foods & treats made with wholesome ingredients that are sure to pique your dog’s (and your own) taste buds.

Food For Small Breed Dogs

The best small breed dog foods are designed to provide balanced nutrition for dogs whose ideal adult weight is under 20 pounds.

That’s because small dogs tend to benefit from food optimized for their higher rate of metabolism… and their smaller physical size.

On this page…

We’ll share The Dog Food Advisor’s safest and most recommended small breed dog foods… and we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions we get about feeding small dogs.


Editors Choice Logo for Best Small Breed Dog Food Page

The Best Dog Food for Small Dogs

Here are The Dog Food Advisor’s top best small breed dog foods.

Taste of the Wild App Valley Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Recipe

Rating: 

Appalachian Valley Small Breed is one of 9 dry recipes included in our review of the Taste of the Wild product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Venison, lamb meal, garbanzo beans, peas, lentils
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Design: Maintenance
  • Best for: Small breed adults
  • Price: $$

Appalachian Valley Small Breed derives the bulk of its animal protein from fresh venison and lamb meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% estimated carbs… with a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

A fully balanced, grain-free recipe containing no artificial colors, flavors or toxic chemical preservatives. Highly recommended.Sample buyer review… “I realize that pugs eat just about anything you put in front of them, however, this small kibble really fits their mouths to a ‘T’! Sometimes when I want to spoil them, I’ll mix in some cooked chicken breast, and a little hot water to make a gravy. They love this! The small kibble is easier for them to eat, and they are healthy as small horses! Never had a problem, and vet visits are always top notch! I highly recommend this food for small breeds with small mouths!”


Merrick Real Beef Dry Dog Food

Merrick Classic Small Breed Dog Food

Rating: 

Classic Small Breed is one of 13 dry recipes included in our review of the Merrick Classic product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, turkey meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (rice, barley, oatmeal, quinoa)
  • Design: Maintenance
  • Best for: Small breed adults
  • Price: $$

This Merrick Classic recipe takes the major portion of its animal protein from fresh chicken as well as chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 17% fat and 45% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

Merrick Classic Small Breed is a solid grain-inclusive recipe with fiber-rich quinoa to help maintain digestion. Easily recommended.


Nom Nom Turkey Fare Fresh Dog Food

Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food

Rating: 

Turkey Fare is one of 4 fresh wet recipes covered in our review of the Nom Nom dog food product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Ground turkey, eggs, brown rice, carrots, spinach
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (rice)
  • Design: All life stages
  • Best for: Small breed adults and puppies
  • Price: $$$$

Nom Nom Turkey Fare derives most of its animal protein from fresh turkey as well as whole eggs. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 37% protein, 17% fat and 39% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.

If you’ve ever wished you could serve your small dog a fresh home-cooked meal… but without all the fuss… then Nom Nom makes a smart choice.

Top level, human-grade ingredients and a balanced recipe designed by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. Not cheap. But highly recommended.


Nulo Freestyle Small Breed

Nulo Freestyle Small Breed Dog Food

Rating: 

Freestyle Small Breed is one of 9 dry recipes included in our review of the Nulo Freestyle product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned salmon, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, salmon meal, red lentils
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Design: All life stages
  • Best for: Small breed adults and puppies
  • Price: $$$

This Nulo formula gets the lion’s share of its meat protein from fresh salmon as well as turkey and menhaden fish meals. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 34% protein, 19% fat and 39% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.

Nulo Freestyle Small Breed is designed to support the higher metabolism and energy levels of smaller dogs. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My Corgi/Ruby Spaniel mix just turned 9 and has lost a couple of teeth. This small kibble works GREAT for her- she only has to bite once– she loves the flavor and I love the formula. It’s good for her joints and skin with the Omegas in this formula. Easy to digest and this brand has NEVER had a recall. Highly recommend this for small breed fur babies!”


Instinct Original Small Breed Kibble

Instinct Original Small Breed Dog Food

Rating: 

Original Small Breed is one of 5 dry recipes included in our review of the Instinct Original product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, chickpeas, tapioca, chicken fat
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Design: All life stages
  • Best for: Small breed adults and puppies
  • Price: $$$

This Instinct Original formula derives the greatest part of its animal protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 39% protein, 22% fat and 31% estimated carbs… which creates a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

Instinct Original Small Breed provides an optimal balance of protein, fat and calories to ensure a balanced nutrition for your small dog. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I love this dog food, and so does my dog. I like all of the ingredients and trust the company. My dog begs for it and devours it. He’s doing very well on it. His coat is shiny, his muscles are defined, and his stools are firm. I rotate this brand with a few other brands so he has some variety, but I’m very picky with which foods I include in the rotation, and only choose brands and formulas of the highest quality.”


Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult

Rating: 

Life Protection Small Breed Chicken and Brown Rice is one of 21 dry recipes as well as 5 small breed formulas included in our review of the Blue Buffalo Life Protection product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, barley
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (rice, oatmeal, barley)
  • Design: Maintenance
  • Best for: Small breed adults
  • Price: $$

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed derives the bulk of its animal protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 29% protein, 17% fat and 46% estimated carbs… which results in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

A small breed formula boasting a fully balanced blend of minerals, antioxidants and vitamins to promote a healthy immune system.

What’s more, Blue is one of the few major brands offering multiple flavor options specifically designed for small dogs…

Which makes Life Protection an ideal choice for those who like to routinely rotate their pet’s diet.

Highly recommended.

Best Dog Food for Small Breeds

The assumption that small breed dogs are low maintenance and easy to feed due to their small size is dangerous. Small breed puppies, especially toy breeds, require careful feeding to prevent a condition called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is the scientific word for low blood sugar, and small breed puppies are prone to developing this condition as a result of high metabolic rates and low sugar and body fat reserves. This means they need to be fed a calorie-dense, small breed puppy food anywhere from four-to-six times a day and watched closely for symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia in dogs:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures

Most complete and balanced small breed puppy foods contain the appropriate amount of nutrients for small breed dogs. They also have smaller kibbles, which are easier for small breed puppies to chew and are less of a choking hazard. Talk to your vet about the risks of hypoglycemia and what you can do to prevent it in your small breed puppy. If you suspect your puppy has hypoglycemia, call your veterinarian immediately.

Best Dog Food for Small Breed Adults

Finding the best food for small breed adults is tricky. There are a lot of options claiming to offer your dog the best nutritional package in a variety of price ranges. You can narrow your search by asking your veterinarian what brands he or she recommends. Veterinarians have access to the latest research on dog nutrition as well as pet food recalls, which makes them a valuable resource during this decision-making process. Depending on your dog’s health, your vet might recommend a specific food or several brands that he or she feels offer the best food for small breeds.

Small breed adult dogs require more calories-per-pound than large dogs, and they also need smaller kibbles, which is why diets especially formulated for small breeds are usually best. However, while small dogs might need more calories per pound than larger dogs, that does not mean that owners should overfeed them. One of the biggest concerns regarding dog nutrition is obesity. Obese dogs are more prone to a variety of health issues, and it is estimated that obesity takes as many as two years off of our dogs’ lives.

Diseases associated with obesity in dogs:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart and respiratory disease
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury
Best Food for Small Breed Senior Dogs

Small breed dogs typically live longer than large breed dogs. This means that your small breed dog could be eating the same food from the time she graduates from puppy food for more than 15 years. A diet rich in antioxidants could help prevent free radical damage over her long lifespan, so ask your veterinarian about the best foods for small breeds that contain plenty of antioxidants.

Both adult and all other life-stage formulas are appropriate for senior dogs. Currently, there is no senior, geriatric, or mature dog food nutrient profile recognized by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Dog foods that cater to seniors do not have to meet specific senior nutrient requirements, and they may not have undergone any clinical trials to test their effectiveness. This does not necessarily mean that senior dog foods for small breeds are a bad choice for your senior pet, but it is a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about a senior diet before you buy, in order to make sure you get an effective formula.

Senior small breed dogs may develop health problems that require special dietary restrictions or prescription diets. Prescription senior diets, unlike commercial diets, are specially formulated and clinically proven to help treat certain conditions. Your vet may recommend a prescription diet for your senior pet if he or she feels it is necessary.

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