There are many dry dog foods available at supermarkets, pet stores, and your veterinarian's office, but which one is right for your small dog? Some of our Everhart Animal Hospital vets' top picks are shared here.
Choosing a Food for Your Small Dog
Smaller dogs, especially those under 20 pounds, have a faster metabolism than their larger canine counterparts. So look for dry food that has been formulated to meet the needs of a small dog's fast metabolism. Many small dog foods have smaller kibble sizes to make it easier for small dogs to eat, but feeding your small dog small kibble isn't necessary...even tiny dogs can eat regular-sized kibble.
Ingredients to Avoid
Several controversial ingredients can be found in both small and large dog foods. Here are a few ingredients to avoid if you want to make sure you're feeding your small dog the best food possible:
- Propylene glycol (Moisturizer)
- Generic “meat” (Unknown source)
- BHA (Preservative)
- BHT (Preservative)
- TBHQ (Preservative)
- Ethoxyquin (Preservative)
- Menadione (Synthetic vitamin)
- Artificial dyes (Color)
5 Nutritious Dry Foods For Small Dogs
When choosing a food for your small dog be sure to note the first 5 ingredients on the package. Those first ingredients should be healthy foods that you recognize.
- CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Fields with Chicken Small Breed - First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Lentils, and Potatoes
- Taste of the Wild - Appalachian Valley Small Breed Recipe - First 5 ingredients: Venison, lamb meal, garbanzo beans, peas, and lentils (grain-free recipe)
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Chicken - First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, split peas, whole brown rice, and brewers rice
- Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Adult Dog Food - First 5 ingredients: Deboned turkey, chicken meal, salmon meal, oatmeal, and ground brown rice
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult - First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, and barley
Consult your veterinarian if you're unsure which dry food is best for your small dog. Based on your dog's age, overall health, and activity level, your veterinarian will be able to recommend the best food for them.
How Much to Feed Your Small Dog
It's nearly impossible to calculate the exact amount of food you should feed your small dog. Each brand of dog food has a different calorie content, and each dog's lifestyle and calorie expenditure are unique.
Regardless of which small breed dog food you choose, make sure to follow the feeding instructions on the package or consult your veterinarian for advice. Your veterinarian knows more about your pet's overall health and nutritional needs than any dog food manufacturer.
Changing Your Small Dog's Food
Changing a dog's food can cause some unexpected consequences in the form of gastrointestinal upset. The best way to transition your canine pal to a new food is in gradual steps.
Begin by mixing about 25% new food along with their regular food for 3 or 4 days and monitor your dog for any signs of tummy upset such as gas, or loose stools.
If your dog is doing well with the new food gradually increase the proportion of new food to about 50% and continue to monitor your dog for any reactions to their change of diet.
Your dog's digestive tract should become accustomed to the new food after about 10 - 14 days, and you can complete the transition. If your dog's gastrointestinal distress persists, seek advice from your veterinarian. It may be necessary to make a longer, more gradual transition to the new food, or it may not be the right food for your little friend.