Dog Tips

Best Dog Food for Small Dogs

The thing about small dogs is that most of them are like big bombs packed in a small packet. And for bombs to explode you need thrust. In the case of these little fur-bombs, food does the job. Food not only helps dogs get energy but also plays an important part in their physical and mental growth. 

Now some dogs, like The Great Dane, grow up as tall as some humans. Others remain pup-sized even when they reach maturity. If this is the level of difference in growths in dogs, should the food fed to them be different? 

Let’s find out. But before that

How Do You Define a Small Dog Breed?

There are broadly 2 types of small dog breeds that are classified by weight. The first one is ‘toy dogs’ and includes breeds that weigh 12 pounds or under. These include Miniature Dachshund, Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, the Papillon, Maltese Terrie, the Pomeranian, etc. The second one is ‘small dogs’ that weigh between 12-20 pounds. Breeds like Standard Dachshund, Jack Russell Terriers, Shih Tzu, Miniature Schnauzer, the Pug, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and the Shetland Sheepdog are examples of it. 

Big Dog Breeds vs Small Dog Breeds

There are some basic differences between big dog breeds and small ones. These include –

  • Small mouths – Small dogs have small mouths and teeth that are tightly packed. There are enough spaces for bits of food to lodge, attract bacteria and cause an infection. 

  • Small stomachs – These dogs naturally have small stomachs, so they may not be able to eat a full serving size of regular kibble.

  • High metabolism – These dogs also tend to have a higher metabolism rate when compared to most of the big ones.

  • High nutrient density – They cannot eat more but they require the same level of nutrition as other dogs. This is why they need food that is densely packed with nutrients. 

Best Small Breed Dog Food

Dogs are not pure carnivores. They can extract nutrients from grains, fruits, and vegetables as well apart from meat. They need a wide range of nutrients for their growth. Small dogs, as mentioned above, require all these nutrients in a lesser serving due to their small stomachs. To ensure that you’ve picked the right dog food for your small dog, here are the checkpoints you need to tick.

  • Choose food that is formulated for small dogs as they are more likely to get low blood sugar on account of their high BMR. 

  • Choose smaller kibble to reduce any choking hazard due to their small mouths.

  • Premium-quality food with proteins like beef and chicken and healthy fats such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 aid in keeping the coat healthy. 

  • To manage their glucose levels, you can feed them whole grains in limited quantities. 

  • Look for ingredients such as Vitamin A and linoleic acid, as these promote healthy skin and a shiny coat.

  • Avoid foods that contain too many preservatives.

  • You can also avoid ingredients such as corn, soy, or wheat in heavy quantities. 

Once you’ve taken note of these things, you’ll be posed with another question. Dry food or wet food, which is better for small dogs? 

The basic difference between dry and wet food is the water content. Dry food contains a moisture content of up to 12% while for wet food it can go up to 84%. This affects the shelf life of the food, making wet food expire sooner. Apart from that, the calorie density may also vary. Dogs may have to eat twice or thrice the quantity of dry food in the case of wet food to match the calories. 

Best Wet Food for Puppies

Wet food can be a great way for puppies to transition from their mother’s milk to solid food. Wet food is softer for those milk teeth and sometimes even more aromatic, making it easier for the pups. Along with satisfying the hunger, wet food also gets the pups hydrated due to the high moisture content. And as mentioned above, puppies need a calorie-dense diet to support their growing needs and high metabolism. But not all wet foods have the same calorie density. Here are some guidelines for you to choose the best wet food for your puppy – 

  • Look for the ones with high Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

  • Aim for higher protein levels and lower carbs.

  • Go for whole food ingredients to retain the nutrition in them.

  • Avoid artificial colors and preservatives.

  • Ensure that the food meets AAFCO standards. (2)

Best Dry Food for Small Dogs

The most important checkpoint here again would be to look for dry food that has been specially formulated for small dogs. The checkpoints mentioned above for wet food are applicable for dry food as well. Additionally, there’s a list of ingredients that you should be avoiding. These include – 

  • Propylene glycol (Moisturizer)

  • Generic “meat” (Unknown source)

  • BHA (Preservative)

  • BHT (Preservative)

  • TBHQ (Preservative)

  • Ethoxyquin (Preservative)

  • Menadione (Synthetic vitamin)

  • Artificial dyes (Color)

In this debate of wet food vs dry food, you can go for a combination of both. You can introduce both the textures to your dog and let them get the best of both worlds. Just remember not to mix both foods at once. You should serve them both at different times. Having said that, constantly switching between dry and wet can also cause problems in some pups. It can lead to diarrhea or constipation for sensitive stomachs. 

In the end, more than the texture, it is the quality of ingredients and level of nutrition that matters. So once your pup adopts the taste of one variety more, you can completely switch to it. Also, do consult your vet before making any major changes to your pup’s diet.

Senior Dog Food for Small Breeds

Currently, there is no senior, geriatric, or mature dog food nutrient profile recognized by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). But unlike the big breeds that grow in size with age, the small ones remain almost the same. Hence, their stomach size and mouth size remain the same. You should be looking for options specially formulated for senior dogs in small breeds. A diet rich in antioxidants could help prevent free radical damage over their long lifespan. 

Some things that you should keep in mind while feeding senior small dogs are – 

  • Feed little and often.

  • Do not serve cold wet food.

  • Choose a quiet place to feed.

  • Get a raised food bowl.

  • Don’t overfeed.

More About Spot Pet Insurance

Senior small-breed dogs may also develop health problems that require special dietary restrictions or prescription diets. Insurance plans at Spot Pet cover them.

Dog Insurance can help provide financial assistance for eligible veterinary care in case of unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries. Our plans can help pet parents manage the eligible costs of covered veterinary care and help ensure that their pets can receive the best treatment possible. Here are some ways that Spot pet insurance plans can help:

  • Covers Unexpected Veterinary Costs: Spot pet insurance plans cover the eligible costs of unexpected veterinary treatments, such as emergency surgeries, X-rays, and prescription medications for covered conditions.

  • Customizable Plans: Choose your annual limit, reimbursement rate, and deductible from a range of options, and create the plan that will fit the needs of your pet and your budget. 

  • Peace of Mind: With Spot pet insurance plans, pet parents can know that they can provide the best care for their pet with less worry about the cost.


  1. Singh, S. (2024, May 16). How to select the right pet food for small breed dogs? Blog.

  2. Wet dog food for puppies: 5 tips you can’t ignore. (n.d.). Petzyo.

  3. Choosing the best dry dog foods for your small dog | Animal Emergency Center | Memphis Vet. (2020, June 29).

  4. Aydin, A. (2024, April 12). Dry vs Wet Food – Which is better for your dog? Zooplus Magazinee.

Follow us on Instagram

Follow us everywhere else: