A small breed is generally any dog under 30 lbs by adulthood. These breeds are powerhouses of energy, burning through calories at an extraordinary rate. What’s more, you can expect a smaller dog to have a longer life expectancy than larger breeds by quite a few years. Littler dogs need a lot from their food and we’re going to take a look at what they need to keep them going.
There are plenty of dog food options out there and it can seem daunting if you are out to find the best for your beloved pup. Most importantly, ignore the constant marketing claims, popularity and promises made by dog food manufacturers. It is unfortunate, but these large companies tend to have their bottom line, not our dogs’ health, in mind. By staying informed about what should and should not be in your dog’s food, you will be surprised at what you find on the labels of some of the most recognized brands.
Ideally, you should be able to clearly identify most, if not all of the ingredients on any dog food label. Our dogs will benefit most from a food that is as natural as possible.
The Basics Of A Quality Dry Food
Among the many things to consider when looking for dog food is what type of food. Dry kibble and wet canned are by far the most popular, but dry food does tend to win out with convenience, quality and price. Interestingly enough, if you have a small breed dog, it is actually the better choice. One of the healthy concerns to remember about your dog is that his smaller jaw and teeth are prone to problems. Little dog mouths are harder to keep clean and healthy, so dry, coarse kibble is actually a helpful way to scrub away plaque and tartar. It is definitely a better choice for any dog with dental cleanliness concerns.
The best dog food for small dogs will of course be designed to meet their particular needs, but will also have the foundation of any quality dog food. Before we get into the specifics of small breeds, let’s look at what makes a good dog food.
Here Is What You Should Find On The Label Of All High Quality Dog Foods:
From an animal, labeled accordingly, like chicken, beef, or salmon. Avoid anything generic like meat or poultry.
Whole grains like brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa, etc., and tubers like sweet potatoes.
Omega fatty acids support skin, coat, heart health and brain function. Look for fish oils and oils from flaxseed, sunflower, olive, etc.
Fruits and vegetables
A good blend will add fiber and essential nutrients. Never feed your dog onions, grapes or cherries.
Vitamins and minerals
Quality foods will supplement will all the essential vitamins and minerals your dog needs to stay happy and healthy.
As we mentioned, the unfortunate truth is that a lot of dog food manufacturers make false claims about the quality of their products. Just because they use the words ‘premium’ or ‘natural,’ or say that the food is good for dogs, does not mean that it’s true.
The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has published nutrient profiles that outline the minimum allowed nutrient content for pet food. If a food says ‘complete and balanced,’ or if it clearly states it has met AAFCO standards, then the food does possess fundamental nutritional content. However, this does not mean that there aren’t other things included in that food that not only add no nutrient value, but could actually be harmful to your pup.
Avoid Any Food That Contains:
Corn, wheat, soy or gluten
These are fillers that add little to the food. They are also very common allergens.
‘Meat’, ‘meat meal’, ‘by-product’
Anything generic like meat is a red flag, signaling that the manufacturers do not know what animal or what animal parts are in the food.
Artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors
Your dog does not need artificial anything.
Also used in antifreeze, household cleaners, etc: BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), PG (Propylene Glycol), Ethoxyquin, etc.
Remember, the more ingredients on the label that you can identify, the better the food in general. Foods that lean towards the ancestral diet trend or mimick raw diets are very good options for all dogs. Again, review the label to see if they are including a solid foundation of wholesome ingredients.
So What Makes The Best Dry Food For Small Dogs?
Although their metabolism means they require a lot of calories, smaller breeds are obviously limited by smaller stomachs. This means their food must be calorie dense, containing more calories per piece than say, a dog food designed for larger breeds. Those calories can’t come from anywhere, though.
Ironically, even though smaller dogs have faster metabolisms overall, several breeds are actually prone to obesity. Breeds such as pugs, for example, tend to be more sedentary. These dogs can pack on pounds very fast, creating even more health problems like joint issues, a weak heart and diabetes. For this reason, the calories in small dog food should come primarily from lean protein. Healthy complex carbohydrates are important in moderation, as well, but the bulk of the food should be protein-based.
The longer life span of smaller dogs also means that you are investing in many years with your pup. Foods rich in antioxidants will lower your dog’s risk of diseases down the road and keep their immune systems strong. Though orthopedic problems are commonly associated with large breeds, some small breeds do have tendencies towards bone and joint problems in their later years. A lot of small breed dry foods take this into account and supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin.
Additional supplements you may find in small breed foods include taurine or l-carnitine. These support heart health and lean muscle mass, so they are a welcome extra for breeds that may be struggling with obesity.
Our top five picks:
The Wellness brand gets great marks for their nutritious line of dog foods. Their small breed recipe provides protein from turkey, chicken and salmon with a great combination of oatmeal, brown rice and barley. Flaxseed and salmon oil gives this food omega fatty acids while a blend of fruits and vegetables such as spinach, sweet potatoes, blueberries and more packs it with antioxidants and fiber. Wellness also includes probiotics, taurine, glucosamine and chondroitin in this highly recommended formula.
Great protein sources like bison, salmon and eggs are paired with brown rice and oatmeal to give Solid Gold a solid nutritional foundation. Their Wee Bit variety for small breeds is full of omega acids from salmon and flaxseed oil, antioxidants from a long list of fruits and vegetables and plenty of tummy-pleasing probiotics. Solid Gold is one of the leaders in holistic dog food and this formula is a great representation of their commitment to natural, wholesome goodness. Supplements like taurine and l-carnitine to support your little guy’s metabolism are extras in an already superb dog food.
Horizon has a wonderful offering of dog foods designed for breeds of all sizes. Their Amicus line keeps the littler pups in mind. This recipe has human-grade turkey, chicken, salmon and eggs, meaning you can feel good very confident about the quality. Complex carbohydrates come from red lentils, which are also full of fiber. This food is high in antioxidants from fruits and veggies like bok choy, broccoli, blueberries and carrots, and is supplemented with more vitamins, minerals, glucosamine and chondroitin. Horizon Amicus keeps the glycemic index low, perfect for smaller pups who might struggle with weight or blood sugar issues.
Halo Spot’s Stew is natural, holistic, well-balanced and perfect your little pup. Their small breed recipe features unique and diverse protein sources like pheasant and duck, combined with chicken, turkey and salmon. This is a high protein food, balanced out with sweet potatoes and barley for healthy carbs. Halo packs their food with fiber and antioxidants from a blend of blueberries, carrots, cranberries, zucchini and much more. Probiotics also aid some digestive support. This food is definitely a great choice for small and even toy breeds.
Fromm is another name in dog food that prepares their recipes like they would for their own canine companions. Duck, chicken and egg with barley and brown rice give this food an excellent base. Their small breed formula also has both fish and flaxseed oil for omega acids as well as a strong antioxidant blend of diverse fruits and vegetables. Fromm designs this food for a small dog metabolism and includes great extras like probiotics and chicken cartilage, a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your dog on the move.
When selecting a food for any dog, ignore the popularity of certain brand names and don’t trust any claims. The best thing you can do is to stay informed and read the labels. Even some of the oldest, most recognized names in the dog food industry are guilty of producing poor quality foods hidden behind familiar advertising campaigns.
Your dog needs natural ingredients, well-balanced between protein, carbohydrate, fat and fiber. Small breeds especially need a high protein food with only moderate carbohydrates to help maintain their weight and stave off diabetes. The best dog food for small dogs will also have plenty of healthy oils, vitamins and minerals to support everything from their vision and hearing to their skin, coat and nails.
Small breeds can live for a lot longer than their larger counterparts. By giving your little friend a top quality dry food, you are laying the foundation of many happy, healthy, active years.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com.