best-dog-food-for-small-dogs

5 Best Dog Foods for Small Dogs

In this guide we’ll take a look at the best dog food for small dogs.
We’ve compared quality of ingredients, nutritional information, and value for money
to give you our top recommendations below.

Breed Advisor only recommends products that we’ve tested, or significantly researched . This page contains affiliate links, that at no additional cost to you, may earn a small commission for the site. Find out more here.

What is the Best Food for Small Dogs?

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Vet’s Advice

If you are new to small breed dogs you might be wondering what is best to feed them. They naturally have smaller stomachs and therefore smaller appetites than larger dogs. Small breeds are also renowned for being picky and fussy with their food, which can complicate things. It is best to try and get these little dogs on a nutritious diet right from the start and not reinforce bad habits by feeding them table scraps in an attempt to encourage them to eat. Here are some key things to look out for when selecting a diet for a small breed dog.

Choose a diet with a smaller kibble size

A diet that has smaller-sized kibbles is a good idea for small breeds. Their little mouths and teeth mean they need proportionally smaller food than a larger dog in order to chew comfortably.

Pick a calorie-dense diet

Small breed dogs have a higher metabolic rate than larger breeds, making them burn off calories more quickly than larger dogs. This means that some toy breeds can be at a higher risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Compare the calorie content per cup and choose the diet that has the higher amount.

Look for diets that contain animal fats

Healthy fats from chicken or fish oils can make a diet tastier, with many dogs preferring the flavor over vegetable and other plant-based oils. Most foods contain a crude fat content of somewhere between 8 and 18%.

Consider a wet food

If your small dog struggles with kibbles or is just fussy with their food generally, you could try a wet alternative. Canned food can sometimes be more palatable to some dogs due to its texture and higher meat content. This could be fed alone or mixed in with their kibble for flavor.

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Compare Our Recommended Dog Foods

Use the dropdown to sort the table by the feature that’s most important to you.

  • Top 5 Ingredients
  • Type
  • Lifestage
  • Calories
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Cost
  • Our score

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Small Breed Dog Food Reviews

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Deboned Chicken
    2. Chicken Meal
    3. Brown Rice
    4. Oatmeal
    5. Barley

  • Type: Dry food
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Calories: 397 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 26%
  • Fat: 15%
  • Fiber: 4%

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is a high-quality food formulation that meets all of the high points small breed dogs need from their daily diet. A food that was designed specifically to assist small dogs with maintaining optimal health, the main protein source in this diet is whole deboned chicken, an excellent quality meat that has been reinforced by the addition of chicken meal.

Blue Buffalo has also included a supplement known as LifeSource Bits to boost the antioxidant content in the food to support a strong and healthy immune system. This food’s carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; all of which are easy to digest and rich in fiber.

The kibble pieces are bite-sized to promote good oral health. Glucosamine has been added to support healthy joint function. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids have been enriched to ensure good coat and skin.

Blue Buffalo is free from corn, wheat, soy, and by-products. It is one of the best foods for small dogs on the market today.

Pros

  • Dogs love the taste of this food. They eagerly lap up each morsel in their bowl.
  • Owners love the size of the kibble pieces in this diet, feeling they are the perfect size and shape for small breed dogs.
  • This diet includes nutritious whole grains in its formula. Owners love this, feeling grains play an important role in dogs achieving good digestion.
  • Dogs suffering from sensitive stomachs tolerated this food well and found relief from their symptoms.
  • Owners were pleased to report dogs suffering from gastrointestinal distress saw a return to healthy digestion after a regular diet of Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult.

Cons

  • Some dogs dislike the LifeSource Bits in this food. They pick them out and refuse to eat them.
  • Some owners prefer to feed a diet that is grain-free, particularly those with dogs suffering from food-related allergies.
  • A few owners felt the kibble pieces were a little too big and hard for their dogs to break down well. They added broth or hot water to their dogs’ meals to help the morsels to be easy for their dogs to consume.
  • In rare cases, some dogs had problems with excess gas when fed this diet on an ongoing basis. This may be the result of a sensitivity to one of the ingredients or too rapid a dietary change.
  • Several owners indicated they felt the bag of food was small given its price tag.

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American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Deboned Salmon
    2. Chicken Meal (a source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate)
    3. Turkey Meal
    4. Peas
    5. Sweet Potatoes

  • Type: Dry food
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Calories: 390 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 32%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Fiber: 5%

American Journey Salmon and Sweet Potato is a nutrient-dense, nutritionally balanced food that small breed dogs just love. This diet, considered to be among the best dog foods for small breeds, takes salmon as its first ingredient, a meat that is high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat. A grain-free diet, American Journey takes some of its carbohydrates from the inclusion of sweet potatoes and chickpeas, two superfoods that are rich in antioxidants and fiber to encourage eating satisfaction and a strong immune system.

American Journey contains no corn, wheat, or soy. The addition of salmon oil and flaxseed boosts the omega 3 and 6 fatty acid content to support excellent coat and skin health.

Pros

  • Even very picky eaters love the taste of this food. They look forward to their every meal with great eagerness.
  • Most owners feel this food is very reasonably priced. They like that they are able to give their dogs top tier nutrition without breaking the bank in the process.
  • Dogs that suffered with recurring skin conditions related to allergies found complete relief from their symptoms when transitioned to a steady diet of American Journey Salmon and Sweet Potato.
  • Owners love that this diet is grain-free, feeling it is a safe and healthy choice for dogs with allergies.
  • Dogs fed this diet regularly had coats that were soft, shiny, and healthy.

Cons

  • Some dogs find the taste of this food off putting and will not eat it. American Journey has several other formulations with different proteins in their recipe. One of these foods may be a better option for those dogs.
  • A few owners felt this diet was cost prohibitive.
  • Some dogs struggled to process this diet well, resulting in more frequent bowel movements. The food may be too rich for them.
  • A few owners noted that the kibble pieces in this diet were harder and darker than they were accustomed to seeing in other diets. They found this off putting.
  • In a few instances, some dogs displayed coats that were very dry and full of static when fed this diet on a consistent basis.

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CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Grain-Free with Chicken Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Chicken
    2. Chicken Meal
    3. Peas
    4. Lentils
    5. Tapioca

  • Type: Freeze-dried raw and dry food
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Calories: 525 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 24%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Fiber: 4%

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Small Breed is a limited ingredient diet that has been custom-designed to help small dogs enjoy excellent health. Through its formulation which includes both freeze-dried meat and kibble, the small dog will benefit from great eating satisfaction and staying power to keep their energy levels fuelled throughout the day.

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Small Breed is based upon ingredients that are unlikely to trigger skin or stomach sensitivities in small dogs. Its main protein source is whole chicken that is supported by the inclusion of chicken meal to provide vital amino acids to keep small breed dogs healthy and strong.

A grain-free diet, CANIDAE’s carbohydrates are derived from highly nutritious fruits and vegetables that also contribute a powerhouse punch of antioxidants and fibre. A probiotic blend known as HealthPLUS Solutions has also been included to encourage excellent digestion, a strong immune system, and excellent coat and skin health. This emphasis on high digestibility and optimal coat and gut health makes CANIDAE one of the best foods for small dogs available for purchase.

Pros

  • This diet is highly flavorful. Even exceptionally picky eaters look forward to their every meal.
  • Owners feel this food is well priced, particularly given its high nutritional quality.
  • Owners love that this diet has been formulated with small breeds in mind. They like that the kibble is bite-sized, feeling it is unlikely to pose a choking hazard for their dogs.
  • Owners of dogs with sensitive stomachs were pleased to report that their dogs were able to tolerate this diet very well.
  • Dogs suffering from allergies saw relief from their symptoms when fed CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Small Breed on a regular basis.

Cons

  • Some dogs dislike the taste of this food and will not eat it. Another CANIDAE offering may yield better results.
  • A few owners indicated their bags of food contained a small amount of crumbled kibble pieces.
  • Several owners indicated they found this diet very dry. They added broth, water, or a topper to their dogs’ meals to provide more moisture.
  • A few owners felt this diet was better suited to toy breeds than small dogs. They reported that the kibble pieces were the size of peas.
  • Some owners prefer to feed a diet that is grain-free, particularly those with dogs with food-related allergies.

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Stella & Chewy’s Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Chicken With Ground Bone
    2. Chicken Liver
    3. Chicken Gizzard
    4. Pumpkin Seed
    5. Organic Cranberries

  • Type: Freeze dried raw
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Calories: 50 kcal/patty
  • Protein: 48%
  • Fat: 28%
  • Fiber: 5%

Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw Patties provide small breed dogs with all of the taste and nutrition they need to thrive. A high protein food, this diet lists chicken, chicken liver, and chicken gizzards as its three primary ingredients. With a heavy emphasis on proteins derived from excellent quality sources, this food is sure to provide small breed dogs with all of the fuel they need to achieve and maintain optimal health.

Stella and Chewy’s is a diet based on freeze-dried raw meat patties. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables have been included to provide both disease-fighting properties and additional fiber

This diet, one of the best foods for small dogs with sensitive stomachs, can be fed directly from its frozen state or can be reconstituted through the addition of water. Stella and Chewy’s patties contain no grains, gluten, fillers, artificial preservatives, or colors.

Probiotics have been added to aid with excellent digestion.

Pros

  • Owners love that Stella and Chewy’s is available in several different flavors. This allows them to offer their dogs some variety in their diet without sacrificing nutritional quality or risking gastrointestinal distress.
  • Owners really like the convenience of these patties. They are pleased that they can easily be reconstituted, making them ideal for serving at home or taking on the road.
  • This diet is full of flavor, encouraging even the pickiest of dogs to eat with hearty abandon.
  • Dogs suffering from allergies found relief from their symptoms when fed this diet on a consistent basis.
  • Dogs that struggled with gastrointestinal distress saw a return to regular digestion when transitioned to this diet appropriately.

Cons

  • A few owners were disappointed to report that some of their patties were crushed, making it difficult for them to determine portion sizes for their dogs.
  • Some people feel this diet is rather costly.
  • Some dogs don’t like this food and will not eat it. A change to another Stella and Chewy’s formulation with a different protein base may yield better results for those dogs.
  • A few owners indicated that the patties in this diet are very hard. They find them difficult to crumble to rehydrate them for their dogs.
  • Several owners questioned if this formula had recently changed. They noticed a difference in the texture of the patties.

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Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Adult Turkey & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food review

At a Glance

  • Top 5 Ingredients:
    1. Deboned Turkey
    2. Chicken Meal
    3. Salmon Meal
    4. Oatmeal
    5. Ground Brown Rice

  • Type: Dry food
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Calories: 408 kcal/cup
  • Protein: 28%
  • Fat: 15%
  • Fiber: 4%

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health is a food of excellent quality that owners can feel good about feeding to their small dog. A diet that is rich in protein in the form of turkey, chicken, and salmon, Wellness provides all of the vital amino acids small dogs need to fuel their energy levels and continued health.

A diet rich in high quality whole grains, Wellness’ carbohydrates support fluid digestive processes. Its bite-sized kibble pieces encourage excellent oral health. Chondroitin has been added to ensure healthy joints. For one of the best foods for small breeds, it’s well worth the money to give Wellness Complete Health a try.

Pros

  • Owners like that they were easily able to keep their dogs at a healthy weight when their dogs were fed this diet on a consistent basis.
  • Dogs fed this diet regularly saw an increase in their energy levels.
  • Dogs love the taste of this food. Even the pickiest of eaters look forward to their every meal.
  • Dogs that regularly had issues with soft stool saw a return to normal stool consistency when fed this diet on a steady basis.
  • This diet contains whole grains. Owners are pleased with this, believing these ingredients assist dogs with attaining ideal digestion.

Cons

  • Some owners really disliked the texture of this food. They expressed that the kibble is very dry and crumbles quite easily.
  • In rare cases, some dogs struggled to break down the kibble pieces in this food. Among the things their owners did to help them consume their meals is put the kibble in the food processor or add water or broth to the food to soften it.
  • Some dogs have no interest in this food, eating their meals with great reluctance. This is simply a matter of personal preference and not a reflection on the food itself.
  • A few owners expressed that they would prefer to feed their dogs a diet that is completely free from grains.
  • Some owners felt this diet was too expensive for them to feed their dogs on an ongoing basis.

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How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Small Breeds

Small breed dogs are a true delight, bringing a vast amount of love, devotion, and fun to their families. However, the nutritional needs for small dogs differ substantially from their larger counterparts, making a food designed specifically to address their requirements an absolute must for optimal health.

Many small breed dogs can be predisposed to mouth issues which can include tooth loss, plaque accumulation, and gum disease. To help prevent this, selecting a food with bite-sized pieces of kibble can be very beneficial. Kibble specifically designed for small breeds helps to prevent choking and to discourage rapid eating. In addition to this, the texture of the kibble can provide a scrubbing action against the teeth to keep them healthy and free from tartar buildup.

Though the nutritional needs for all dogs are quite similar, the number of calories required will vary depending on the size of the dog and the dog’s specific breed. Small breed dogs also have differing activity levels, meaning some will require a slightly different nutritional formulation and caloric count to help fuel their drive and exercise needs. The best foods for small dogs have recipes that have been specifically calibrated to meet their unique nutritional requirements.

Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Small Breed Dogs

Make no mistake; small dogs love food just as much as their large breed friends. However, controlling portion sizes is key to keeping these littler pooches from gaining excess weight which can cause harm to their bodies.

To best determine how much of the best small dog food a small dog should be fed, it is a good idea to use the dog’s weight measured against the food’s suggested serving size. This will yield a starting point which can be adjusted until the correct amount has been identified. The dog’s appetite and weight will serve as helpful guides.

Care should be taken not to overfeed small dogs. Dogs carrying excess weight on their frames are at a far higher risk of developing health problems such as diabetes or succumbing to injury or illness.

Dietary Requirements for Small Breed Dog Foods

Any food suited to the needs of small breed dogs should be comprised of the highest quality nutrition. Since all dogs are carnivores, protein should be the primary ingredient with whole meats the preferred choice. Meat meals also provide an excellent source of protein.

Meat by-products are inferior in quality. Likewise, plant-based proteins can be very difficult for small dogs to process and utilize effectively. In addition to this, many alternative protein sources such as corn, wheat, and soy can cause allergic reactions in many breeds. Avoid foods containing any of these items as they are not the best dog food for small breeds.

Small breeds can have difficulty maintaining a consistent level of blood sugar. Since small breed dogs are known to have metabolisms that are both high and efficient, they require a diet that is dense in calories derived from the best sources for nutrients. It is also a good idea to break up the small dog’s foods into several mini meals fed throughout the day. This encourages stable blood sugar levels to support consistent daily energy.

Some small dog breeds can be prone to skin and stomach sensitivities. For those breeds, a grain-free diet may be best. All others can freely enjoy a grain-free or a grain inclusive formula without suffering any ill effects. Whether drawn from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables, the critical component of any carbohydrates included in a diet for a small breed is that it is high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, and easy to digest.

Also of great importance in a diet for small breed dogs is the inclusion of healthy fats. Healthy fats provide small dogs with the energy they need to remain active and well. But fats also assist with maintaining healthy coat and skin. Healthy fats are best taken from animal origins including chicken fat or oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, or anchovies.

Things to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Small Breeds

Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in a food for a small dog:

  • Whole proteins heading up the ingredients list
  • Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
  • Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
  • Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food

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