Small dogs have unique nutritional needs at each stage of their life. Whether your tiny pooch is a puppy, middle-aged, or enjoying its golden years, our Ocala vets are here to help you with a few easy-to-follow tips on finding the best dog food for small dogs.
Choosing Dry Food for Your Small Dog
It may come as a surprise to you, but small and toy-breed dogs actually have higher metabolic rates compared to their larger counterparts. Our miniature pooches burn a surprising amount of calories throughout the day, so they need a diet that can meet their energetic needs.
Feeding small dogs with a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet is crucial to ensuring they receive the necessary nutrients for their active lifestyle. Below, we’ll discuss how you can choose a proper diet based on your dog’s age.
Best Dry Foods for Small Breed Puppies
When looking for small-breed puppy food, it is important to consider their specific nutritional needs. Look for a food that is formulated with higher levels of protein and fat to support their fast metabolism and energy requirements. Additionally, seek out options that contain smaller kibble sizes, as this can make it easier for small-breed puppies to chew and digest their food.
The Risk of Hypoglycemia In Small Breed Puppies
When it comes to the health of small-breed puppies, one condition that is of particular concern is hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia occurs due to low blood sugar resulting from your pup's fast metabolic rate combined with low body fat reserves. Signs of hypoglycemia in dogs include:
- Poor appetite
- Twitching or trembling
Hypoglycemia can be fatal if left untreated, so choosing a diet that meets all of your small dog's needs and helps to balance their blood sugar levels is essential.
Best Dry Foods for Small Breed Adult Dogs
Your vet should have access to the latest research on dog nutrition and be in the best position to recommend the right food for your small-breed dog.
Depending on your dog's overall health, your vet may recommend a brand specially formulated to help with skin problems, joint health, or other conditions.
In general, though, look for foods rich in high-quality protein sources to support your dog’s energy levels and help them maintain muscle mass. Additionally, choose a food that contains adequate levels of essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, to promote healthy bone development and dental health.
Knowing how much food to feed your small dog is also essential. While your little pooch needs plenty of calories to keep its speedy metabolism running smoothly, it's important not to overfeed them.
Obesity may shorten your pup's life by up to two years, and carrying extra weight puts your small dog at risk for a variety of serious health conditions like osteoarthritis, diabetes, respiratory problems, and heart disease.
Once you have chosen a brand to feed your pooch, ask your vet to calculate how much and how often you should feed them.
Best Dry Foods For Small Breed Senior Dogs
One of the great things about small-breed dogs is that they typically live longer than medium- and large-breed dogs. On average, small-breed dogs can live about 15 years. Sometimes, even more.
This is one of the reasons why choosing high-quality adult food is critical from the moment your dog graduates from puppy food. Reducing your pup's risk of developing health problems later in life due to poor nutrition will go a long way toward ensuring that your small-breed pooch remains active and healthy in its senior years.
Like small-breed adult dogs, opt for food that contains high-quality protein sources and essential nutrients to support their overall health and vitality in their golden years. But this time around, you may need to look for a formula that is specially formulated to address common issues like joint health and weight management. Your vet may also recommend a formulation to help treat any health concerns your pup may have or be developing, such as GI problems, sensitive skin, or coat issues.
If you have a senior small-breed dog, ask your vet to review the nutritional qualities of the food you're currently feeding your pup to ensure that all of your dog's needs are being met.
Changing Your Small Dog's Dry Food
Regardless of your dog’s size, changing their 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 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 portion to about 50% and continue to monitor your dog for any reactions to this change of diet.
Your dog's digestive tract should become accustomed to the new food after about 10–14 days, at which point you can complete the transition. If your dog's gastrointestinal upset persists, contact your veterinarian. It may take a longer, more gradual transition to the new food, or it may not be the right food for your little friend.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.