They say that good things come in small packages. And with the big personalities packed into the many small dog breeds, we tend to agree. It seems intuitive that a Yorkie would have radically different needs than a Great Dane. But small breed dogs are individually unique too, and so are their nutritional needs. The first step to selecting a healthy dog food for small dogs is understanding what makes them special.
Characteristics of Small Breed Dogs
In short (no pun intended), a dog is considered a small breed dog if they are an ideal body weight of 20lbs or less, and about 12 inches tall or shorter. Toy breeds like Chihuahuas and Maltese are even smaller, at about 10lbs or less. In many cases, the smaller the dog, the longer the life expectancy. Of course, finding the right nutrition for your small dog can contribute to a long, happy life.
Nutrition for Your Small Breed Dog
- Selecting the best small breed dog food for your dog starts with understanding stomach size. Your dog’s stomach is tiny, and their metabolism rate is extremely quick. That makes an important impact on your small dog’s nutrition.
- Smaller Stomach – It doesn’t take much dog food to fill your small breed dog’s stomach, so the volume of the dog food they consume should be small as well. Toy breed dogs tend to have even smaller stomachs; sometimes they’re about the size of a matchbox!
- Need for Nutrient-density – Your small dog’s nutrition should focus on nutrient-density. In other words, their food needs to be crafted with more protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, and calories packed into fewer kibbles. In general, small dogs should consume more calories per pound than larger dogs do.
- Fast Metabolism and Limited Energy Reserve – Small breed dogs tend to have fast metabolism rates and don’t store up as much energy as larger dogs can. Your dog may benefit from smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, especially if they’re very active or a puppy. A rapidly growing small breed puppy’s metabolism rate can burn through meals extremely quickly, so they require a formulated-for-puppies dog food with feeding occasions spaced out over 3 to 4 times a day. It’s easy to overfeed your dog when you’re scooping food so frequently. To help your dog avoid putting on excess weight, carefully measure their daily caloric requirements at each meal.
- Picky eater? – Small dogs get the reputation for being picky eaters, though this is more on a dog to dog basis rather than the general rule. It’s important to keep in mind that dogs should never be fed human food, no matter how tempting, as table scraps can lead to excessive weight gain and even contribute to oral health issues. If your dog is picky, try a softer kibble. You can also soften hard kibbles with warm water to see if it appeals to your dog, then slowly transition them to eating hard kibble again to support strong, clean teeth.
What's the Best Dog Food for Small Dogs?
Of course, your small dog may have a different metabolism than other small dogs. Even within the same breed size, metabolism rates differ from dog to dog. Activity level, body condition, and life stage all contribute to your dog’s nutritional needs. It’s important to monitor your dog’s body condition, age and activity level to make sure you’re feeding the appropriate amount and type of food. Regardless of whether you have a Jack Russell Terrier with endless energy or a Pekinese who perches contentedly on your lap, all small breed dogs need exercise and playtime to maintain an ideal body weight, learn socialization skills, and be mentally stimulated. When it comes to exercise though, small breeds tend to tire out before larger breeds – little legs can only go so far – so be quick to identify signs of fatigue and dehydration. To determine the best exercise for your small dog, talk to your veterinarian, breeder, or trainer for suggestions.
Finding Nutrition to Fit Your Small Dog
Though small breed dogs can have much in common, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” for small dog nutrition. Your dog should be evaluated as an individual, especially when selecting the best dog food for them. It’s a lot to consider all at once! And it’s a lot to have to piece together when picking a bag of dog food from off the store shelf.
Our team of experts can take the guesswork out of choosing the best dog food for your small dog by crafting a blend just for them. When you tell us information like activity level, current body condition, age, and even flavor preference, we build a wholesome, balanced dog food tailored for your small dog’s nutritional needs.
Let’s get started creating your small breed dog’s unique dog food blend.