The best small breed dog food
Your tiny Yorkshire terrier might be of the same species as a Great Dane, but their nutritional requirements aren't identical. It's important that you choose a small breed dog food that will properly meet the nutritional needs of your compact canine.
You might know that you want to switch your dog to a small breed dog food, but which one? Read on for more information, plus a few of our recommendations. At the top of our list is Hill's Science Diet Small Bites Chicken & Barley Recipe, which is packed with all the right vitamins and minerals to keep your dog's coat and skin looking its best.
Considerations when choosing small breed dog foods
Wet food is generally more tempting for picky dogs and can be easier on senior dogs' teeth compared to dry food. It should contain more meat and less carbs that dry food. Unfortunately, it costs a lot more.
Dry food is easy to store and creates less mess, plus it's great for dogs who eat their meals over the course of hours rather than right away. It's more affordable than wet food, if price is a concern.
In recent years, grain-free dog food has become a popular trend. The fact is, however, that there's nothing wrong with grains (especially healthy whole grains), so you should avoid grain-free dog food unless your dog has a diagnosed allergy. Current research shows a potential link between grain-free food and the fatal heart condition DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy).
Small dogs equal small mouths, so it follows that your chosen small breed dog food should have small kibble pieces.
Vitamins and minerals
Like all dog food, small breed dog food must meet certain nutritional requirements and, therefore, will contain added vitamins and minerals to make sure it does so. Chelated vitamins and minerals are more easily absorbed. However, chelated copper can contribute to copper storage disease in breeds that are prone to it (such as Bedlington terriers and West Highland white terriers).
Added probiotics are great for digestive health. While all dogs can benefit, they're especially helpful for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Small breed wet food generally costs 50 cents to $2 for a small 3.5-ounce can. Dry small breed dog food is usually priced between $1 and $3 per pound.
Q. What's the difference between small breed dog food and standard dog food?
A. The main difference between small breed dog food and standard dog food is the calorie density. While small dogs obviously require less calories overall than large dogs, they need more calories per pound of body weight, so small breed dog food contains more calories pound for pound. Certain formulas also have increased percentages of fat and protein to meet the needs of small breeds. Lower levels of carbohydrates or carbs with a low GI (glycemic index) score are preferable, because small dogs are prone to spikes and crashes of blood sugar.
Q. How much should I feed my small breed dog?
A. It's extremely easy to overfeed small dogs as portion sizes can look too small to be correct. There will be a feeding guide on the packaging of your chosen small breed dog food that tells you how much to feed your dog by weight and activity level. This is, however, only a guide, so some dogs may lose or gain weight on the recommended portion. Keep a close eye on your dog's weight for a month or two after switching dog foods and adjust portion sizes if necessary.
Small breed dog foods we recommend
Best of the best: Hill's Science Diet Small Bites Chicken & Barley Recipe
Our take: With its small kibble size and high levels of antioxidants, this is an excellent food for small breed dogs.
What we like: Omega-6 and vitamin E promote coat and skin health. Easily digestible with high-quality protein and plenty of fiber from healthy whole grains.
What we dislike: Works out cheaper when you buy a large bag, but the food may spoil before one small dog gets through it.
Best bang for your buck: Purina's Beneful IncrediBites for Small Dogs
Our take: The quality isn't up there with the best, but it's an affordable option with a decent nutritional content.
What we like: Mini pieces are great for small mouths and include a mixture of tender and crunchy pieces for variety. High in protein. Beef is the primary ingredient.
What we dislike: Some say the "tender" pieces are more on the crunchy side.
Our take: A highly palatable wet food designed for small breed dogs up to a maximum of 22 pounds.
What we like: Added omega-6 fatty acids boost skin and coat health. Suitable as a complete food or mixed with kibble for dogs of 10 months and over.
What we dislike: Costs more than dry food.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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