Best Dog Food for Small Dogs

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best food for small dogs is, then we recommend Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed as the best one.

Small dogs have specific characteristics that you need to take into account when choosing proper food for them.

They have a higher metabolic rate and this means that they need more calories per pound of body weight than a large dog. And they also need a higher concentration of protein and fat.

Here’s a quick overview of the recommended formulas we’ll review in this article:


What Makes the Best Food for Small Dogs?

The truth is that you can’t rely on the self-glorifying brands of dog food for your pet. Most are just full of marketing gimmicks, and they rarely deliver on their promises.

Your small dog has its own special needs that are different from those of larger breeds. Because of this, their nutritional needs are unique. Don’t feed them just any food for the reason that it’s been working with your more large-sized pets.

That would be the recipe for disaster!

Don’t just believe a pet food manufacturer because they claim to have the smallest kibble in the market. There’s far much more you need to be concerned with apart from just the size of the kibble.

Let’s consider the more important ones in this section.

best-food-for-samll-dogs

1. Is the Food Formulated for Small Dogs?

Small dogs have different requirements in as far as the levels of fat, carbohydrates, proteins, and micronutrients go. Ensure that what you put in front of your dog is formulated for small dogs.

Do not be afraid to study the food label in microscopic details. Better still, rely on the endorsements of previous customers.

2. What’s the Calorie Count on the Food Label?

There’s a common misconception that because small dogs are tiny, they don’t need much calorie intake.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Take the case of my small furry pal. Whenever I take him out for walks, he tends to exhibit a lot of life and energy. This bundle of joy will burn up so much energy running up and down, that I often have to carry him back.

And, to think he’s only 5lbs!

Compare this with a bigger breed – a German Shepherd, for example. Chances are that they’ll handle break a sweat by the time the walk is over. They have larger reserves of energy that they burn more slowly.

Also, bear in mind that your small dog has a small stomach. As such, they can take only small portions of food at a go.

So, here’s the rule. When it comes to checking for the best food for your small dog, ensure that it provides for the high amount of calories your pet needs. However, these calories need to be compressed in as little volume as possible.

3. What’s the Protein Content in the Dog Food?

The largest percentage of micronutrients in any dog food should be proteins.

And, only high-quality protein will do. Here, we are talking meat-based proteins.

This is more so if you are looking at the diet of small dogs. Yes, small dogs do need carbohydrates and fats. But, the two are not as important as protein.

So, if any product boasts of having high plant-based protein, don’t bother spending your money on it. In my opinion, it won’t be of much value to your small dog.

So, how do you tell whether a product is high in meat-based protein? It’s simple really. Check the label and confirm that:

  • Over 65% of the ingredients are meat-based proteins, or
  • All the ingredients are meat-based

4. What’s the Fat Content?

Fat is another important ingredient you need to consider. Granted, it may not be as important as protein. But, it is a dietary consideration nonetheless.

Fat creates a healthy balance in your pet’s diet. The most important fat component is fatty acids. These include the Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids.

The fatty acids are essential for a clean, shiny coat and fur. They help your dog to avoid suffering from flaky skin, itching, and dry skin.

Moreover, fat is a good source of energy for your beloved canine friend. Small dogs tend to fatigue quite easily. They need to recharge constantly to maintain their highly playful and exploratory nature.

When you give your pet food with enough fat levels, their systems are able to absorb minerals and vitamins with more ease.

5. Does the Food Contain Sufficient Carbohydrates

Now, the issue of carbohydrates and dogs is a sensitive one.

And, this is why…

Smaller dogs are more susceptible to hypoglycemia than their larger cousins are. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the body experiences a drastic drop in blood sugar.

As such, you need to look for foods that take this into account. However, you need to take care that you don’t give them food that will spike their blood sugar levels abnormally. This is common with foods sourced from monosaccharides (simple sugars).

So, the best solution is to feed your pet foods sourced from complex-carbohydrates (polysaccharides).

The dog’s system absorbs complex carbohydrates more slowly. This means that there’s a balance in the sugar levels. They don’t spike too fast or crash too suddenly. Any small dog that goes through this repeated rise-fall in blood sugar is in real danger.

Check for sources of complex-carbohydrates on the food label. This includes such foods as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, whole vegetables, and apples.

6. The Packaging of the Food

As noted earlier, small dogs have relatively small stomachs. They can eat only small portions of food at a go. As such, they need to feed on a regular basis to replenish their energy levels.

Animal experts strongly advise that you should feed your small dog at least three times a day. Of course, circumstances do differ and each dog is unique in its own way. You hold the final way when it comes to your dog’s eating pattern.

But, I’ll always insist that you involve your vet before you make any major decisions concerning your pet.

It’s important that you feed your small dog equal amount of food during each of the three feedings. The reason for this is simple. Each meal will contain roughly the same amount of nutrients. This is healthier for your pet.

Some manufacturers are responding to this need producing food in packages that are easier to divide. This is an important consideration, as it will save you the time and hassle required to get the portions right.

7. Dog Food Price

Now, let’s be honest – we all would like to save a few bucks even as we get the best in terms of quality.

Money is an important consideration when it comes to the purchase of the best dog food for small dogs.

But, don’t be fooled! Expensive does not always translate to quality. And, neither does affordable means poor quality.

All the same, be wary of products that are extremely cheap. They could be hiding something fishy! This is more so when you are dealing with small dog’s food.

You see, most brands tend to be premium, and they’ll require that you move out of your financial comfort zone. However, they don’t have to be exorbitant. They just need to be affordable.

The good news is that your small dog does not eat much at one sitting. This means that the package you buy will last you longer.

This was an important consideration as I did the research for this review.


THE 5 BEST DOG FOOD FOR SMALL DOGS

#1 – Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed

Key Features

  • Its 100% Grain Free
  • Nutritional balance suitable for small breed dogs
  • Has rich chicken and turkey proteins
  • All ingredients are natural
  • Has no meat by-products
  • Contains no soy, corn, and wheat by-products
  • Wholly made in the USA
Sale
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Small Breed, 4-Pound Bag
726 Reviews
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Small Breed, 4-Pound Bag
  • Grain Free: 100% Grain Free, Complete And Balanced Everyday Nutrition For Your Small Breed Dog.
  • Small Breed: Naturally Grain Free And Protein Rich, Made With Premium Turkey & Chicken, And The Optimum Calorie Levels To Support Higher Energy Needs Of Small Breeds.
  • All Natural: Contains Only Premium, All Natural Ingredients With No Wheat, Corn, Soy, Meat By-Products, Or Artificial Colors, Flavors And Preservatives.

The Pros

  • The price is affordable
  • Has 80% more meat than most other dog foods in the market
  • Raw feeding philosophy supports high-quality meat protein
  • It’s 100% grain free
  • No artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
  • Contains zero animal by-products
  • Natural ingredients balanced for a small dog’s requirements
  • Small-sized kibble perfect for a small dog
  • Well packaged

The Cons

  • The taste could be better (although it’s far from being bad)

This is actually the food we recommend for your small furball. 😉


#2 – Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food

Key Features

  • Is particularly good for small adult dogs with skin and food sensitivities
  • Has prebiotic fiber that helps in firming stools and resolving digestive issues
  • No artificial flavors or colors
  • Has the all-important omega-6 Fatty Acids and Vitamin E
  • Contains strong antioxidants to cleanse your pet’s body
  • Rich in Vitamins E and C that boost your pet’s immune system
Hill'S Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food, Small & Toy Breed Chicken Meal & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food, 15 Lb Bag
1,156 Reviews
Hill'S Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food, Small & Toy Breed Chicken Meal & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food, 15 Lb Bag
  • Hill'S Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Small & Toy Breed Natural Dog Food Is Formulated For Smaller Adult Dogs With Food Or Skin Sensitivities
  • This Small Breed Dog Food Includes Prebiotic Fiber From Beet Pulp For Good Digestive Health And Firm Stools
  • Provides Your Small & Toy Dog High Quality, Easy-To-Digest Ingredients With No Artificial Colors, Flavors Or Preservatives For A Flavorful, Nutritious Meal

The Pros

  • Quite affordable
  • Its available in a variety of sizes for toy breeds and small dogs
  • Available as both canned dog food and dry dog food
  • It’s easily digestible
  • Provides complete and balanced nutrition for your small dog
  • Contains properties that improve the skin and coat of your dog
  • Nicely packaged

The Cons

  • Some dogs don’t react well to its taste

#3 – Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food Real Chicken & Sweet Potato

Key Features

  • 100% grain free
  • No gluten ingredients
  • Easy to digest
  • Very high levels of chondroitin and Glucosamine (both important for healthy joints and hips
  • Contains both omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
Sale
Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food, 12 Lb.
455 Reviews
Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food, 12 Lb.
  • Grain-Free Nutrition With No Gluten Ingredients For Easier Digestibility
  • #1 Ingredient Is Real Deboned Chicken
  • Contains Industry-Leading Levels Of Omega 6 And Omega 3 Fatty Acids To Aid In A Healthy Skin And Coat

The Pros

  • 100% grain free
  • No gluten ingredients
  • Easy to digest
  • Very high levels of chondroitin and Glucosamine (both important for healthy joints and hips
  • Contains both omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
  • Cooked in the US
  • Contains strong anti-allergens
  • Great ingredients for happier and healthier small dogs
  • It’s made in the USA

The Cons

  • It’s a bit expensive
  • Sources for some of its ingredients abroad
  • Dogs take up to 3 weeks before they start to really enjoy it

#4 – Hill’s Science Diet Small & Toy Breed Dry Dog Food

Key Features

  • Well-balanced diet suited for dogs that weigh up to 25 pounds
  • Contains DHA from fish (DHA helps in brain development, eye coordination, and aptitude)
  • Has no artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Contains ingredients that are highly digestible
  • Is rich in amino acids, minerals, and vitamins
  • Made in the US
Hill's Science Diet Puppy Food, Small & Toy Breed Chicken Meal & Barley Dry Dog Food, 15.5 lb Bag
1,722 Reviews
Hill's Science Diet Puppy Food, Small & Toy Breed Chicken Meal & Barley Dry Dog Food, 15.5 lb Bag
  • Hill's Science Diet Puppy Small & Toy Breed Chicken Meal & Barley Recipe dry dog food is precisely balanced nutrition for puppies up to 1-year-old that weigh up to 25 pounds when fully grown
  • This dry dog food for small & toy breed puppies provides Natural DHA from high quality fish oil to support healthy brain and eye development and learning ability
  • Hill's Science Diet Puppy small breed dog food contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives

The Pros

  • It’s a bit pricey
  • Contains strong antioxidants to cleanse your pet’s body
  • Is rich in vitamins E and C that are crucial in boosting immunity
  • Made with small kibble that can fit in a small dog’s mouth
  • Easily digestible
  • Available in both wet and dry varieties

The Cons

  • Has a strong smell
  • It’s a bit expensive

#5 – Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe

Key Features

  • 100% grain free
  • High-quality protein from cage-free chicken
  • Dried raw pieces made with phosphorus and calcium (for strong bones and teeth)
  • Contains Chondroitin and Glucosamine (for strong joints)
  • Free from meat by-products
  • It’s free of soy, wheat, corn, and potato meals
  • Has probiotics and Omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Contains no artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Made in the USA
  • Protection packed
Sale
Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain Free Recipe with Real Chicken Natural Dry Dog Food by Nature's Variety, 4 lb. Bag
108 Reviews
Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain Free Recipe with Real Chicken Natural Dry Dog Food by Nature's Variety, 4 lb. Bag
  • Small Breed Grain Free Dog Food With Freeze Dried Raw Cage Free Chicken: Instinct Raw Boost Natural Dry Dog Food Combines High Protein, Grain Free Kibble With All Natural Bites Of Freeze Dried Raw Chicken. Cage Free Chicken Is The #1 Ingredient.
  • Small Breed Dog Food Plus Freeze Dried Raw Pieces: Made With Calcium & Phosphorus For Strong Teeth And Bones Plus Glucosamine & Chondroitin For Joint Health. Made Without Grain, Potato, Corn, Wheat, Soy, Byproduct Meal, Artificial Colors Or Preservatives
  • The First Raw Boosted Small Breed Kibble: Raw Boost Mixes Natural, High Protein, Grain Free Dog Food With Our Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food Toppers In One Bag. Also Includes Probiotics And Omegas. Complete & Balanced Nutrition For Small Dogs, Puppy To Senior.

The Pros

  • It’s affordable
  • Contains a nutritious blend of high-protein kibble and grain free ingredients
  • Has protein from grass-fed lamb, US-raised beef, and cage free chicken
  • Minimally processed
  • Ingredients include all natural, non-GMO vegetables and fruits

The Cons

  • The manufacturer changed the blend recently – this has confused a number of customers
  • The new mix has fewer freeze-dried bits
  • The new bag contains no raw bits – yet the price hasn’t changed

The Food We Recommend for Small Dogs

Based on the above review, Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed carries the day. It stands out because it meets all the criteria we used in researching for this review.

This product is quite affordable and gives the best value for your money. Also, its ingredients take into account that this food is meant for small dogs.

Sale
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Small Breed, 4-Pound Bag
726 Reviews
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Small Breed, 4-Pound Bag
  • Grain Free: 100% Grain Free, Complete And Balanced Everyday Nutrition For Your Small Breed Dog.
  • Small Breed: Naturally Grain Free And Protein Rich, Made With Premium Turkey & Chicken, And The Optimum Calorie Levels To Support Higher Energy Needs Of Small Breeds.
  • All Natural: Contains Only Premium, All Natural Ingredients With No Wheat, Corn, Soy, Meat By-Products, Or Artificial Colors, Flavors And Preservatives.

Of course, there is no single perfect food for all small dogs. But, following the above guidelines, you can make a better-informed decision on the most appropriate food for your dog.

Remember, good nutrition is the key to your pet’s vibrant life. Never take it for granted!


How Much Should You Feed Your Small Dog?

Finding the most appropriate food for your dog is only the first step. You need to decide how much you need to feed him.

When in doubt, rely on the guidelines at the back of the food pack provided for this purpose. But, ensure that you work in close consultation with your vet.

Your vet will help your work out the best weight for your pet. As such, you’ll be able to determine the right amount of food to feed your beloved dog.


The Question of Small Dogs and Obesity

A small dog takes about 400 calories per day. If you were to feed him 500 calories, that marks an increase of 100 calories or 25%.

Compare that with a larger breed, which eats 3,000 calories per day. If you were to feed him an extra 100, that would be a rise of only 4%.

So, clearly, a small dog would get obese in no time if overfed.

Take care!

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