This post was most recently updated on July 24th, 2019
Having a small breed doesn’t mean you can get away with poor nutrition. Just like big doggos, small and toy breeds have special nutritional needs. To keep them in shape, you need to serve the best dog food for small dogs in every meal.
Here, I handpicked 5 of the most nutritious options in the market to consider for your pooch:
MY TOP PICK: Rachael Ray Nutrish Small Breed Natural Dry Dog Food
Product Name: Rachael Ray Nutrish Small Breed Natural Dry Dog Food
Product Description: My top recommendation is the Rachael Ray Nutrish Small Breed Dog Food. It’s made with real farm-raised chicken as well as a chicken meal. It also has chicken fat, fish meal, dried cranberries, brown rice, dried carrots, and more. I just want to warn you though that this food contains corn and soy. If your small pooch has allergies, I suggest that you consider the other options here. Each serving of this dog food contains 26% protein, 16% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% moisture. It’s also packed with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. To top it is calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.
This Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Food is 100% complete and balanced for optimal canine nutrition. It’s made to give small dogs more energy in every serving.
As a small bite recipe, this has a smaller kibble size which is easy for pooches to munch. This helps reduce tartar buildup on the teeth of small dogs. I also like that this doesn’t have by-products and any artificial add-ons.
My little dog also likes this kibble and it actually helped her digestion. For doggos that find it hard to gain weight, I highly recommend this formula.
My only gripe is that the bag isn’t resealable. I had to transfer it to a Tupperware container to keep it fresh. But other than that, I have no other problems.
✔️Rich in antioxidants
✔️No by-products or fillers
✔️Made with farm-raised chicken
❌The bag isn’t resealable
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula for Small Breeds
What I really like about the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is its LifeSource Bits. These are tiny, cold-formed bits packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Its main ingredient is deboned chicken and chicken meal. It also has brown rice, oatmeal, barley, Menhaden fish, flaxseed, peas, and more. It’s also a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.
Each serving of this Blue Buffalo dog food contains 26% protein, 15% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% moisture. Another thing that I really like about this dog food is it contains glucosamine that keeps my pooch’s joints in check.
It also contains the right balance of calcium, phosphorus, Omega- 3, and Omega-6 fatty acids. Overall, this product meets the nutritional levels defined by the AAFCO for maintenance among dogs.
The best thing about this food is it doesn’t contain corn, wheat, and soy. Also, it doesn’t have meat by-products. With this, your pooch gets maximum nutrition in every bite.
Since this is specifically formulated for small breeds, it has increased carb and protein levels. This is so your pooch will have a longer supply of energy until the next meal.
The pet owners I’ve talked with said that their dogs find the LifeSource Bits less palatable. If you have a picky eater, a drop of fish oil should do the trick.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food for Small Dogs
Hill’s Science is a trusted brand when it comes to the best dog food for small dogs. I highly recommend their adult dog food for small dogs which is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants, and tons of other nutrients.
First of all, chicken meal is its main ingredient followed by brewers rice, whole grain wheat, soybean meal, chicken fat, pork liver, barley, and more. I personally suggest that if your dog has stomach issues, you have to observe it closely when switching to this food.
Each serving of this Hill’s Science dog food contains 20% protein, 12.5% fat, 4% fiber, and 10% moisture. It also contains 700 UI/kg of Vitamin E and 90 mg/kg of Vitamin C to boost your dog’s coat and immune system.
Also, this has antioxidants that are formulated for lifelong immune support among miniature and toy dogs.
I also like that this has the right balance of calcium to support your little buddy’s bone growth. Overall, this is ideal for doggos 1 to 6 years old.
Aside from the nutrition and great taste, this kibble has a small size which is ideal even for toy canines.
A bonus here is that each purchase of the Hill’s Science dog food helps shelter pets find forever homes. It’s a great way to nourish your dog!
Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Small Breed
If you’re looking for a grain-free option, I highly suggest the Wellness Core Natural Dog Food. This has complete and balanced nutrition together with a 100% grain-free formula.
This Wellness Core dog food has deboned turkey and turkey meal as main ingredients. It also includes a chicken meal, potatoes, peas, chicken fat, tomato pomace, flaxseed, salmon oil, and more. There are also superfoods like kale, apples, blueberries, spinach, carrots, and broccoli.
What I really like is that this product didn’t use soy, corn, wheat, or by-products. Each ingredient is premium to provide optimal nutrition to your dog.
Each serving of this wholesome dog food has 36% protein, 15% fat, and 5% fiber. It also contains 2% calcium, 1.30% phosphorus, and Vitamin E.
To keep your little doggo’ coat healthy, Wellness Core infused their food with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. It also has chondroitin and glucosamine for the joints of adult small breeds.
This best dog food for small dogs helps get rid of the stinky ‘dog smell’. Also, this is the best pick for little canines with sensitive stomachs.
I also like that the bag is resealable which lets us carry the 4-pound bag whenever we’re traveling in our motorhome. The kibble stays fresh and our little babies can’t get enough of it.
Purina Pro Plan Savor Small & Toy Breed Dog Food
Do you have a picky Chihuahua like me? For little dogs with the most finicky tastes, my best bet is the Purina Pro Plan dog food. This is made with shredded chicken and rice for a sumptuous meal.
This dog food also has beef tallow, egg, and fish meal. Take note that this contains large amounts of soybean meal and corn which is an issue for dogs with food allergies. It also has meat by-product which is the source of glucosamine.
Nevertheless, each serving of this dog food contains 29% protein, 17% fat, and 3% fiber. It also has calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and Vitamins A, C, and E. There are also live cultures that support the gut health of your little pooch.
The fatty acids in this food help keep your canine’s coat and skin healthy. Overall, this product has a high nutrient density to support the high metabolic rates of small dogs.
If your pooch seems a bit dull and lethargic, this dog food can probably help. A lot of the pet owners I’ve talked with said that their little doggos are more playful and sharp after switching to this food.
Small Breed Dog Food Buying Guide
Your main concern when purchasing dog food should be the ingredients in the bag. Here’s a brief breakdown of the major food components:
-Look for complete protein sources
A complete protein means all the essential amino acids are present. Some of the complete protein sources include eggs, turkey, duck, chicken, salmon, and ocean fishes.
Take note that most allergies of small breeds are highly associated with the meat type they consume. A lot of dogs show allergic reactions to beef. Still, you should observe your pet closely if you’re introducing a new diet. Each canine is unique to another so are their allergies.
When it comes to the amount of protein, small dogs need 1 gram in every pound of their body weight. This is the same ratio across all breeds.
Although this is a rule of thumb, some small canines may need a higher or lower dose of protein.
-Always opt for healthy fats
Healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids keep your dog’s coat, skin, and nails healthy. Fats are also a good source of concentrated energy. For small dogs that are prone to hypoglycemia, this extra source of energy is a big plus.
Some of the excellent sources of healthy fats include avocado, flaxseed oil, salmon oil, egg yolks, lean meat, and chicken fat. Animal fat also contains minimum levels of tocopherol which makes up Vitamin E, a nutrient that keeps your pet’s skin healthy.
Although the AAFCO doesn’t recognize fatty acids as essential nutrients, it should be present in a dog’s food in one form or another. Besides, fatty acids are only needed in small amounts.
-Get the right carb sources
Carbohydrates are the main sources of energy of small dogs. I personally aim to look for carb sources that are also rich in vitamins and minerals.
Take note that carbs are divided into two: simple and complex. Simple carbs are sugars that are easily broken down in the bloodstream. It’s an ideal source of instant energy for dogs that are under a hypoglycemia attack.
When it comes to main meals, I prefer complex carbs. This includes sweet potatoes, rice, oats, and other whole grains. The energy in these food items is broken down slowly which supplies your pooch enough energy until the next meal.
Whole grains aren’t just excellent carb sources. It’s also packed with dietary fiber that aids better digestion. However, you shouldn’t feed too much fiber either. Excessive fiber can cause nasty gas, very loose stool, and frequent elimination.
If possible, avoid food products that have too much corn, soy, and wheat. For small canines with allergies to these ingredients, you totally need to avoid these ingredients.
-Consider healthy grains
Not all grains are bad for your small dog. I personally prefer whole grains over corn or soy. As long as the main ingredient is a meat type, whole grains shouldn’t pose serious problems.
In case your doggo has a bad case of allergies, you can opt for a grain-free formula. This is a more wholesome choice and it will be easier to spot allergens should harsh reactions occur.
-Fruits and veggies are must-haves
For a natural source of vitamins and minerals, leafy greens and other superfoods are must-haves. Many dog food products nowadays contain the likes of blueberries, kale, spinach, flaxseed, carrots, quinoa, and other nutritious produce.
When it comes to vitamins, the staples include Vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, and E.
Minerals, on the other hand, are inorganic substances that a canine’s body can’t synthesize. It has to be supplied through their diet.
Minerals play a vital role in the function of every being’s internal organs. Small dogs, for example, need minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, iron, sodium, zinc, and more. Take note that this should only be given in very small amounts as recommended by a pet nutritionist.
-Smaller kibble size is ideal
Since you have a small dog, it’s just right that you look for the kibble size that they can easily munch. Smaller bits are ideal to prevent choking while reducing the tartar buildup on your pet’s teeth.
Some dry dog food brands even have proprietary kibble technology that supports dental health.
Small dog nutrition per life stage
It’s important that you feed the right formula on each life stage. Here’s a simple guide for small breeds:
For pups that are around 6 to 12 weeks should be fed with a special formula dedicated for pups alone. This is usually high in protein (around 25% to 35%) to support the muscle growth of the canine. Ideally, you have to divide the day’s calorie allotment in three to four servings.
Once your pooch reaches 3 months, you can now reduce the feeding to three times a day. By the time your pet is 6 months old, it should’ve adjusted to a twice a day setup.
An adult small dog should be eating twice a day. If you have a brachycephalic breed like Pugs, Frenchies, etc. you have to watch out for potential bloating.
By this time, the dog’s protein intake would be slashed by more or less 20%. This depends on the actual breed, activity level, and health condition of the canine.
Once your small dog reaches the senior age which is around 10 human years, you have to tone down the carbs and add more protein.
Unlike large breeds, small breeds aren’t considered senior until their later years. In fact, many small breeds can live up to 15 years or more.
How to read the label
All responsible pet owners will want the best nutrition for their dogs. So before you purchase dog food for your small pooch, you might as well know the following labels:
Complete and Balanced
A dog food manufacturer just can’t use this phrase right away. If the dog food says “complete and balanced”, it means that it meets the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. It should support the growth of puppies and maintenance among adult dogs.
AAFCO has specific standards per life stage which dog products may or may not meet.
This is one of the most popular labels among dog food products. Literally, this means that the dog food doesn’t have rice, oats, barley, corn, wheat, or any grains. Instead, the manufacturers will use tapioca or potatoes as substitute carb sources.
Also, dogs with food allergies tend to do well on grain-free diets. By checking the ingredients list, you can confirm if this label is indeed true.
This label is really tricky. For one, it’s often mistaken with natural food. Organic food actually refers to the raising, harvesting, and processing of the dog food. All the ingredients should be free of antibiotics, hormones, chemical pesticides, and artificial fertilizers.
Also, it should be processed in a human-grade food facility that follows the organic practices as mandated by the USDA National Organic Program.
Have you found the best dog food for small dogs? The 5 of my hand-picked products here are ideal for your little pooch. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to leave your thoughts below. You can also shoot me a message if you have questions about your dog’s health and diet!