The healthiest dog foods for small breeds are designed to provide superior nutrition for those dogs whose ideal adult weight is less than 20 pounds. This is because they have smaller stomach capacity and they burn more calories per pound than larger dogs. Smaller dog breeds benefits from dog foods optimized for their smaller physical size and a higher rate of metabolism.
Since small dog breeds have smaller mouths and teeth, the healthiest dog foods for them usually have a smaller kibble size which makes chewing the food easier. In this article, we will review the nutritional requirements of small dog breeds and provide you with our top picks for the healthiest dog food for small breeds.
Nutritional Requirements of Small Dog Breeds
Dogs are scavenging carnivores, so most of the nutritional needs come from animal sources. Here is an overview of your dog’s nutritional needs:
- High-grade animal protein – at least 18 percent of his diet.
- At least 5 percent fats and a blend of omega fatty acids.
- Essential minerals and vitamins to ensure a nutritional balance.
- Lots of moisture for healthy digestion and hydration.
The most important nutrient for any dog is protein. It supports your dog’s lean mass and provides the building blocks for strong muscles. It is usually better if it comes from animal sources like fish, poultry, and meat because animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids that can’t be synthesized by the dog’s body on its own.
Fat provides dogs with a concentrated source of energy as it contains 9 calories/gram as against 4 calories/gram for carbohydrate and protein. Besides fat and protein, dogs can benefit from limited carbohydrate content in their diet to provide an added source of energy as well as essential nutrients and fiber. Dogs can’t fully digest plant foods so it is important the carbohydrate comes from digestible sources. Other beneficial supplements you should look for include: probiotics, chelated minerals, and vitamins.
How to Choose the Healthiest Dog Foods for Small Breeds
It is important to feed your small dog with a dedicated small dog breed food because their calorie needs differ from large dogs. This is a great way to ensure your dog gets the appropriate concentration of nutrients and calories in his diet. Here are some things to look for in healthy food for small breed dogs.
Smaller Kibble Size
Small breed dogs have a smaller stomach and mouth than the average dog, so to make his food easier to chew it needs to be sized appropriately.
Nutritionally Balanced and Nutrients-Rich
Typically, mineral supplements and synthetic vitamins are needed to ensure a balanced and complete nutrition for dogs.
Rich in Calories and Healthy Fats
A small dog breed food has a higher concentration of fat and calories than typical kibble, but it is important the fat comes from healthy sources.
High in Animal Protein
Dogs need a minimum of 18 percent protein in their diet, but generally, more is better. Make sure you look for a quality source of fish, poultry, or meat as the first ingredients.
Top 5 Healthiest Dog Foods for Small Breeds
Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food
The Blue Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food is formulated specifically to meet the energy requirements of small breeds. It features the right blend of carbohydrates and protein to meet their needs. This recipe also contains omega fatty acids to support skin coat and health. The smaller kibble size of this formula will help your dog with tartar removal and chewing. Overall, it is nutritionally balanced and complete with beneficial supplements, including probiotics and chelated minerals.
- Small kibble size
- No fillers like wheat, soy, or corn
- Added antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to support immune health
- Some dogs may not like this recipe’s flavor
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult Dry Food for Small Breeds
If you are looking for a natural, wholesome recipe for your small breed dog and grains are not a problem, the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult Dry Food for Small Breeds is an excellent option. The main ingredient is real farm-raised chicken and also features carbohydrate support from sweet potatoes and brown rice. It is supplemented with plenty of fiber to ensure it is highly digestible. The recipe contains 15 percent fat and 24 percent protein, providing up to 377 calories per serving. It contains chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and rich in omega fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin. The Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult Dry Food for Small Breeds comes in smaller kibble size and is balanced and complete for small breeds.
- First ingredient is farm-raised chicken
- Formulated for small dog breeds
- No artificial additives
- Rich in omega fatty acids
- Highly digestible
- Some dogs may be sensitive to this recipe as it is not a grain-free recipe
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food
The Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food is a fish and sweet potatoes recipe that delivers limited carbs and omits needless fillers and artificial additives. Fiber and salmon is the primary animal protein source in this dry dog food. The omega fatty acids in this formula promote a healthy, shiny coat and are great for helping your dog maintain good skin health. If your dog has a sensitive digestive system or suffers from common allergies, this formula is an excellent choice. The Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food proves that a diet with limited ingredients doesn’t have to skimp on balanced nutrition or flavors.
- Recipe is made without grains
- Balanced and tasty nutrition for dogs with sensitive tummies
- No common allergens
- Formula is free of fillers
- Recipe may contain GMOs
IAMS Proactive Health Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
With loads of fat, slowly burning carbs, and high-quality protein, IAMS Proactive Health Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is perfect for small Breed dogs with high nutrient needs. This formula is nutrient-rich, thanks to premium ingredients like whole-grain sorghum and real chicken carrots. The 17 percent fat and the 27 percent protein is a well-balanced ratio for your dog’s nutritional needs. Additionally, this recipe is fortified with a variety of minerals and vitamins. Overall, the IAMS Proactive Health Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is a cost-friendly option that offers ample nutrition.
- Real chicken is the first ingredient
- Promotes healthy skin and coat
- Supports a strong immune system
- Contains caramel color
Zignature Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Turkey Dog Food
The Zignature Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Turkey Dog Food features real lamb as the main ingredient and is completely free of eggs, soy, corn, grains, and potatoes. The turkey serves as a unique protein source, making it an excellent option for dogs with allergies to other protein options. This formula is low in saturated fat, rich in phosphorus, riboflavin, and selenium. The smaller kibble size of the Zignature Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Turkey Dog Food is specially designed for smaller breed dogs.
- Have zero grains
- Great hypoallergenic food option for dogs with sensitivities and allergies to certain ingredients
- Turkey as the first ingredient
- Could be higher in calories
When it comes to the healthiest dog foods for small breeds, the higher the ingredients quality, the better. Higher ingredient quality means more nutrition for the dog. Small breed dogs can’t eat as much as a larger dog, so what is even more important is the nutrient density.
If you are unsure of where to look for the healthiest small breed dog food, you can try one of the dog foods we have reviewed in this article.