When you are purchasing dog food for your pup, you want it to match their needs as closely as possible. The requirements of small dogs vary to those of larger dogs in some ways, so many owners decide that they want to choose a product that is specifically built with small pooches in mind. So, here is our list of best dog food for small dogs – complete with a product description and key features. After browsing this top 10 list, hopefully, you have a better idea of what you are looking for.
The Best Dog Food for Small Dogs
This special healthy dog food for small dogs ranks at the very top of our list for a number of different reasons. The first is that it provides complete and balanced nutrition to your little furry friend. The kibble has also been formulated in such a way that it makes it easier for them to pick up with their little mouths.
With its all-natural ingredients, there is no need to worry about some of the things that are included in lesser dog food brands such as artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Three animal sources are included to give your dog all the energy they need for a healthy life.
Made from deboned turkey and oatmeal recipe
Three animal source support high energy needs
Optimal calories to help maintain healthy body weight
Helps support skin and coat health
- BrandWellness Natural Pet Food
- Weight4 pounds
Next, we have this dog food brand, which models itself in the food that your dog would have typically enjoyed in the wild. The main protein source comes from real venison, which allows the development of lean and strong muscles.
Supporting the main protein are a series of vitamins and minerals that give your dog the nutrition they need for healthy functioning. All of the ingredients are designed to be highly digestible to your dog, reducing the risk that they are going to suffer from an upset stomach after eating. Everything is made in the USA from sources that are trusted and sustainable.
Wild dog food credentials
Supported by superfoods
Protein from venison is number one ingredient
- BrandTaste of The Wild
- Weight14 pounds
Blue Buffalo is always a brand that puts meat as the number one ingredient in the knowledge that this is what adult dogs need first and foremost. This one has lamb as its primary ingredient, but it is also supported but a host of other positive ingredients including who grains, fruit, and vegetables.
One of the other main features in the Blue Buffalo brand that you can instantly recognize it for is the distinctive blue LifeSouce bits, which are not just there to make the food look good! In fact, these consist of a precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, supporting the immune system healthy of your dog depending on their life stage requirements.
Puts real meat as primary ingredient
Specifically for small breed dogs
Made with fine natural ingredients
Enhanced with vitamins and minerals
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight 15 pounds
This small breed dog food is made with farm-raised chicken as its primary protein source. It is supported by a brown rice and sweet potato recipe, plus there are all sorts of other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to provide the bodily support that your four-legged friend needs.
To promote the health of your dog’s skin and coat, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are included in the formula. All of the ingredients within the dog food are non-GMO. There is also natural fiber to help support the healthy digestion of your little furry friend.
Primary protein source is chicken
Contains non-GMO ingredients
Omega fatty acids support skin health and shiny coat
Natural fiber supports your dog’s digestion
- Weight15 pounds
Now, we come to the best price option on the list of small kibble dog food, which contains bison as the primary protein source. The tiny kibble size is especially for your smaller dog’s mouth as the tinier breeds can sometimes struggle with the regular size.
Also included in the dog food are fiber-rich prebiotics, which are there to help your dog achieve their optimal digestive health, helping them to stay regular. Plus, there are omega fatty acids to support your dog’s immune system, as well as improving their skin and coat health.
Whole superfoods feed good bacteria
Omega fatty acids
Protect probiotics help to improve digestion
- BrandSolid Gold
- Weight0.16 ounces
Using strong scientific research as the cornerstone of their dog food, this one uses prebiotic fiber to achieve optimal digestive health. To help support your dog’s healthy skin and leave them with a shiny and luxurious coat, the food contains omega fatty acids and vitamin E.
As for the ingredients, they have been balanced in such a way that they are highly digestible for those little dogs who suffer easily from upset stomachs. The ingredients used are natural and the dog food itself has been manufactured in the USA.
Provides precise balance of ingredients
Formulated for smaller dogs
Contains omega fatty acids and vitamin E
Uses prebiotic fiber for optimal digestive health
- BrandHill’s Science Diet
- Weight15.3 pounds
The main high-quality protein source of this dog food for small breeds is cage-free chicken, which can help your dog to get the lean and strong muscles that help them in their busy and active lifestyles. Supporting this are other premium ingredients including vegetables as superfoods.
Made in a way that is nutrient-rich, there are proprietary probiotics that thrive in your dog’s GI tract, and these are kept at guaranteed levels.
High-quality protein source
Added vitamins and minerals
Nutrient-rich and highly digestible
Made in the USA from trusted sources
- BrandDIAMOND NATURALS
- Weight18 pounds
Now, we come to the premium pick on the list for those who are interested in this option. 84% of the protein sources in the food come from high-quality animal sources including salmon. As for the kibble size, it is small to promote the proper chewing of the food.
One of the most common issues in smaller dogs is that they can put on weight quickly, but this dry dog food is specially designed to mitigate against this problem with substances like l-carnitine. Also, it helps to keep your dog’s insides running smoothly.
Smaller kibble size
Promotes weight management
Contains patented probiotics
- Weight11 pounds
Again, we have a kibble size here that is specifically for small and mini adult breeds of dog, ensuring that they can chew their food properly, which helps in the digestive process too. The grain-free formula is designed to offer complete and balanced nutrition.
As for the protein and fat levels, they have been balanced in such a way that they support the calorie needs of smaller hounds. All of the ingredients are premium and all-natural without the need of any artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or fillers.
Contains probiotics and prebiotics
Natural fiber keeps your dog’s digestive system running regularly
Digestive enzymes help break down food
- BrandHolistic Select Natural Pet Food
- Weight4 pounds
Helping to maintain strong muscle health is the real chicken which is the number one ingredient in this small breed dry dog food. It is a grain-free recipe which contains carbs from nutrient-dense sources such as sweet potato and pumpkin.
What is often important to mention is what a dog food does not contain, and this one has no traces of anything like wheat, soy, artificial colors or flavors.
Helps maintain strong muscle health
Small size kibble for smaller mouths
No added corn, soy etc
- BrandNature’s Recipe
- Weight12 pounds
Best Dog Food for Small Dogs Buying Guide & FAQ
The next section is the buying guide and frequently asked questions part, which starts with a guide of what to look for in small dog food. We will continue by discussing the individual nutritional needs of these smaller pups, as well as some specific tips on feeding them.
How Are Small Breeds Different?
While you may think that a dog is a dog and not much can change from pooch to pooch, there are some differences – both in nutritional needs and behavioral differences. Smaller dogs need a high-calorie food that is going to release the energy slowly to compensate for their body shape and often hyperactive personalities. They have much smaller stomachs, which means that they are not going to be able to hold as much food in there, which means that nutritional content is even more important. Also, there is the help and support that can be provided by choosing food with a smaller kibble size.
But then there are the studies that have been conducted into the behavior of small dogs, which have been interesting and come to some varied conclusions. The first is that they are generally less obedient creatures, and they will not respond to commands as reliably as their larger counterparts. They are also known for their excitable nature, which makes them more likely to be wary of visitors too. And there is also evidence of higher anxiety levels. Of course, this varies from dog to dog and there are bound to be differences based on the individual ways that they are treated and trained over the course of their lifetime.
What to Look for in a Dog Food for Small Dogs
There are a few things to look out for specifically when you are choosing dog food for small breeds. Here are some of them.
- Protein as a primary ingredient
While dogs are omnivores who can benefit from all sorts of different ingredients in their diet, they still need to get plenty of protein first and foremost. And this should come from real animal sources in the main, though it can be supported by plat-based proteins too. Look for products that list real meat as a primary ingredient rather than by-products etc.
- Strong vitamin and mineral blend
What you should be looking for is complete and balanced nutrition in dog food for small dogs, and this means all the vitamins and minerals that your dog needs for healthy functioning. These are often provided by the carefully chosen fruits and vegetables within the food.
- Smaller kibble size
It seems obvious to say it but smaller dogs have smaller mouths – and this means that it is going to be harder for them to pick up and chew the larger kibble options. First and foremost, this has the practical advantage of making it easier for your dog to eat, but it also encourages better chewing, which is one of the cornerstones of good digestion. Speaking of which…
- Supports digestive health
Small kibble size isn’t the only thing that can help with good digestion. You should also look for added substances like prebiotics and probiotics that can serve to help food flow through your dog much more smoothly than it would have done otherwise.
- Boosts skin and coat health
The main substances that can help your dog’s skin to stay healthy and their skin shiny are omega fatty acids and vitamin E, so check for these things on the ingredient list before purchase.
- No artificial products
Dogs would not have eaten these artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors that are common in some lesser dog food brands, so you need to be wary of these. Not only do they not add anything to your dog’s digestive health, but they can also cause stomach and digestive issues, which you obviously want to avoid if possible.
While price isn’t everything when it comes to dog food, you want to get the best quality food that also fits in with your budgetary restrictions. However, you shouldn’t go for food that is too cheap as it can end up having adverse effects on your little dog’s health.
The Nutritional Needs of Small Breeds
- High energy content
As we discussed earlier, smaller dogs can be little balls of energy, so they need a dog food that is going to support their high activity levels. Look for foods that contain high energy content, as well as a nutritional blend that is more nutrient-rich. Due to their higher metabolism rate, they are also going to need a higher calorie content in their food.
- High digestibility
Another important factor is that your dog can digest their food properly, so look for the food that has added some thoughtful touches to allow for this.
Just as larger dogs need protein for all sorts of jobs including growth, repair etc, the same goes for smaller dogs too. While there are some different nutritional needs, some of them also stay the same.
- Digestible Carbohydrates
There is a lot of focus on protein in dog food, but it is also worthwhile that they enjoy diets that are rich in carbs too. Initially, they help to keep your dog’s digestive system healthy while also offering a source of energy that releases slowly over time.
- High-quality fat
Again, fats can be a controversial issue when it comes to dog food, but a high-quality content can provide the metabolic support that your little pooch needs, so they are certainly not something that should be avoided in quality dog food.
- Healthy weight management
While it is true that smaller dogs do have higher needs in terms of calories, you still need to make sure that you manage their weight properly, and the type of food that you choose can make such a difference in this regard.
Tips for Feeding Small Breed Puppies and Dogs
There are a couple of tips that can help you in the feeding of your small breed dog that we are going to discuss below. First, let’s look at some of the specifics of feeding a small breed puppy.
- Puppy feeding guide
There are some specific points that are worth mentioning about feeding puppies regarding their different needs. First, they need a high-calorie food that gives your pooch all the energy they need for their lifestyle. Also, extra protein to support their rapid growth, all the essential nutrients required, and a smaller kibble size that makes chewing and swallowing easier. When you start to offer your little dog food for the first time after they have stopped weaning, they may need to eat as many as four to six meals per day. Over time, this can start to reduce down to four, to three, and finally to two when they are over six months old. Avoid overfeeding your puppy as this can cause unnecessary pressure on their frame if they gain weight too quickly. Obesity is always a dangerous state that should be avoided at all costs in dogs.
- Moderate portion sizes
As you would expect, smaller dogs also have smaller stomachs, so they physically cannot contain as much food. This means that you need to moderate the portions that you feed them accordingly. If you feed them the wrong amount, this can end up being harmful to their health as it can lead to obesity, which is one of the most dangerous states that a dog can get into, which comes along with a whole host of health complications. Check the portion sizes on the back of the packaging and make sure that you manage these carefully, while also staying in close consultation with your vet if you are at all unsure on this issue.
- Check the kibble size
As smaller dogs also have smaller throats, you should always check the kibble size of the food. They also have smaller teeth and less power in their jaws, which inevitably makes their bite weaker. Check the size of the kibble to ensure that it fits easily inside your dog’s mouth. If it is too big, there is always the chance that they try and swallow it fully without chewing, which can present a choking risk.
Best Dog Food for Small Dogs FAQ:
Q: Do small dogs need different food?
A: Small dogs have different nutritional requirements to their larger counterparts, which is why a diet that is specially formulated for them. While the basic nutritional needs remain quite similar, there are some things that a small breed dog food can bring to the table that others cannot. For example, a higher calorie content to support their higher metabolism rate. An increased focus on digestion to keep them regular. Even smaller kibble size that can make the food much easier for them to get in their mouth and chew properly.
Q: What is the healthiest food for a small senior dog?
A: If your dog is reaching their senior years, they need food that is designed to support them as they make this transition. Calorie requirements tend to be lower and they may even need a wet dog food diet as they no longer have the teeth and mouth health that supports them chewing on kibble. Ultimately, it is worth getting in touch with your vet if you are not sure about what to feed them. Look for the brands that are very clearly labeled senior and have the necessary allowances for dogs of advancing years.
Q: How often should I feed my small breed dog puppy?
A: Follow the individual guidelines that are centered on small breed puppies, but they tend to need feeding more often than their adult counterparts. Four times a day is normal in the first stages of life, and this then tends to drop down to three times a day, before reaching twice a day, which is standard for adult dogs.
Our Top Pick
Looking back at our number one choice of dry dog food for small dogs, it is this one, which is specifically made for smaller dogs and is based on a deboned turkey and oatmeal recipe. This gives your little dog the protein that they require for their lean, strong muscles, and therefore helps to keep them active in their lifestyle. Designed to offer complete and balanced nutrition, the smaller kibble size makes it easier to chew and digest. All of the ingredients are natural and there is no need to worry about artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives in there.