feeding small dog puppy

Essential Tips for Choosing Dog Food for Small Dogs & Puppies

If you’re a dog owner, chances are you’ve wondered about the correct way to feed your pup. While each dog is different (as most pet owners come to learn), there are some key tips that every pet parent should follow about feeding your dog.

Knowing the right tips for giving essential nutrients is important and this begins when they are still fun-loving and adorable puppies as this early age of development require core attention.

For most pups, puppyhood lasts anywhere from one to two years as most begin to peak at 7 months. Since so many changes are occurring in our canine babies, they need the correct diet to stay healthy.

In this article, I am going to share some useful diet tips for feeding small dogs. Read carefully!

1. Feeding Small Breed Puppies

Do you know that the little tummies of adorable pups grow an average of twenty times faster than adult dogs? This doesn’t mean that they eat more food but there may be a need to adjust their food proportions. Since their tummies are small and energy requirements are more it is expected that they may need to eat more often.

Give Multi-Portion Meals

You can divide their food into three or four meals, instead of the common two for adults. These meals will give them the energy they need to stay active for the entire day. Otherwise, they won’t be able to have enough food at one time and become easily tired.

Gradually Increase Portion Size and Time Gap

It’s great if your pet is able to adjust to the routine of multi-portion meals but as they grow you may also need to gradually increase the portion size, considering the time between meals. This will allow the dog to preserve energy for a longer period which enables you to increase the time gap and decrease the number of meals as they grow.

Try not to guess at the amounts you need to feed your pup always read the back of the packaging or use this chart to determine how much your pup should be eating. Our furry friends have extremely sensitive tummies, and one mistake can make them sick for a long, so follow the diet chart as per their age and weight while making changes to the amounts based on their individual hunger levels.

2.   Change the Type of Food Infrequently

Like human babies, these little dogs’ stomachs do not do well with a variety of meals. Once they have the habit of eating a specific type of food they can eat it for several days. Another key reason for not changing the type of food is the ease of increasing quantity.

Understanding that the purpose of a gradual increase in food intake is to increase the number of nutrients, fats, and vitamins for the dog as they grow is critical in determining how much to feed. Additionally, changing the brand is also not preferable. So, stick with one brand or one recipe. If you offer too many different recipes with varying amounts and types of starches, proteins, or vegetables maintaining gastrointestinal balance may be difficult causing GI upset.

3.   Go for an All-Natural Diet

Many pet parents opt to serve their pups homemade meals, which if you are going to do this make sure you do these five things first. However, if taking out time to create meals for your dog is difficult, you can go for readymade food, here are a couple of tips when choosing food from the shelves for your dog

  • Read labels before picking up your dog food is essential. Never trust the bold words written on the front like “all-pure” or “all-natural.” Always go through the ingredient list to ensure they are as whole and natural as possible.
  • Stay away from foods that have unnecessary preservatives
  • If there is added sugar in the diet skip it
  • Choose diets that have been made from real whole foods
  • Watch out for unecessary fillers like corn or mill (especially as one of the first 5 ingredients)
  • Nix anything with dyes

Note: Carbohydrates, a big source of instant energy, are best for all dogs. A high amount of carbs is present in rice, pumpkins, berries, etc. But refrain from wheat, corn, and soy as they can cause allergies.

We Love Doodles has a great article about dog food brands to avoid but a couple that are quite beneficial for your pup per Dog Food Advisor.com include:

4.   Select Hypoallergenic Foods

Choose hypoallergenic foods or hydrolyzed diets for dogs that may be prone to food sensitivities. If you want to know how to tell if your dog has an intolerance to foods here are the common signs.

Among pets, food allergies are less common than airborne allergies. Any breed can develop food allergies, but there may be an increased risk for Labrador Retrievers, West Highland White Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels. (source)

5.   Choose Low-Fat Treats

When you bring a dog into your family, either as a puppy or adult you will most likely grab a ton of treats as they are in many cases an essential part of training. However, oftentimes these treats can contribute to unnecessary weight gain. Since the majority of the training occurs at the developmental age, loading the pup’s tummy with fat and sugar is a bad idea.

Therefore, analyze the daily amount of fat intake and make sure that you are not giving extra fat. Always have a look at the diet chart. Some good options in low-fat treats include:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Apple
  • Watermelon
  • Green peas
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potato

6.   Offer Dog Food Only

It’s so tempting to offer a scrap of food from your plate when your little companion is sitting beside you. But, once this habit is developed, it becomes hard to reverse.

Additionally, many of us do not know about some foods that can be dangerous for dogs, here is an article about some human foods that can be dangerous for dogs.

Grapes are a good example. Yes, this fruit is good for humans but not dogs. Likewise, onions, avocado, and beer can cause your dog to vomit, cause irregular heartbeat and digestive problems.

7.   Consult a Veterinarian

If you are a new parent always consult your vet shortly after bringing your pup into the home. There are countless things to be taken care of and risks to be evaluated before offering any food. Apart from it, a vet has enough knowledge to analyze the number of nutrients, carbs, and vitamins necessary for your dog. It becomes even more important if the dog has some dietary issues.

What’s the Best Time?

But, at what stage is it ideal for visiting a vet? After adopting a pup, we take it to the vet for a thorough checkup or vaccination. This is the best time to discuss the diet schedule. If you follow professional advice from the first day, you will never face any difficulty.

8.   Always Keep Abreast of Dietary Developments  

Be prepared to face some challenges in the first few days. But do not worry. Your new pooch will take some time to adjust to a new diet. For any confusion and worries, you should keep researching. Read articles, watch videos, and join social media groups especially created for dog owners.

Gathering information from all these sources can clear doubts. If you are still not satisfied, book another appointment with a vet.

How much should I feed my dog?

Per the popular website Rover, the amounts listed below are a good general starting place for determining how much to feed your small dog. If your dog is leaving most of the food in his or her bowl or still hungry feel free to adjust as needed.

Toy Breeds (3-9 pounds)1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of food per day
Small Breeds (10-25 pounds)3/4 cups to 1.5 cups of food per day
Medium Breeds (26-50 pounds)1.75-2.5 cups of food per day
Large Breeds (51-100 pounds)3-4.5 cups of food per day + 1/3 cup for every 10 pounds over 100 pounds

9. Choose a breed-specific food

While most pet parents find that it is unnecessary to feed a specific formula for the breed of their dog, many others like it and you might find it beneficial as well.

There are some breed-specific issues that these foods state they are formulated to assist with. For instance, the Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier Diets are much smaller bites and are said to be made for picky eaters. In addition, the diet includes vitamins like vitamin C, EPA, and DHA which may help with liver issues, which Yorkies are prone to acquiring with age.

However, in most cases breed-specific foods are not a requirement of feeding your small breed dog a balanced, healthy, and nutritious diet.

Final Words

Conclusively, choosing the healthiest food for your puppy or small breed dog becomes easier with a few tips. Things like multi-portion meals, an all-natural diet, and low-fat treats can provide a balanced diet to small dogs. However, consulting a vet and researching about changes in diet is imperative.

How is your dog’s health? Which food are you giving, and what is the response? Share some tips with us!


Author Bio: Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Dynamologic Solutions. You can find more of his posts about pets at We Love Doodles.

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