For those of you who have a tiny dog at home, you've seen first hand how you're lucky to have such a creature full of life and a bundle of joy all wrapped up in a dog so small in size that barely takes up any space around the house.
But, with such a privilege comes great responsibility, one of which is supplying these small breed dogs with the special food they need to thrive in life.
And you're in for some good news, as we've done all the research for you in this article, and if you read on you'll find out what exactly makes the best dog food for small breeds (and why), and what makes the worst food for toy breeds (and why).
Our Top 5 Best Dry Dog Food For Small Dogs (Updated For 2018)
Top Pick: Wellness CORE Natural Dry Grain Free Small Breed Dog Food
Pick #2: Blue Buffalo Small Breed Chicken & Rice Dog Food
Pick #3: Diamond Naturals Dry Food for Small Breed Adult Dogs
Pick #4: NUTRO Small Breed Dry Dog Food
Pick #5: AvoDerm Small Breed Adult Dog Food
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Amazon.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
The Best Food For Small Dogs
Although this list is by no means an exhaustive one when it comes to good dog food for small breeds, it covers what we believe are the top options in today's canine market, and ones that you should really know about.
We've done the necessary research about calorie density, list of ingredients, macro-nutrient breakdown, the overall profile of vitamins and minerals available and what experiences other owners of small breeds had with these products in order to be confident that these food products are among the best of the best.
What Makes The Best Small Breed Dog Food?
When it comes to choosing the best food for tiny breeds, you've got some research you have to do and some self-educating you have to catch up on, because you can't just rely on the majority of brands self-promoting and hyping up themselves as being the "best".
The best dog food for toy breeds isn't necessarily the same as the best food for large breeds, as small canines have special needs and requirements when it comes to their day to day diet, and you can't just go ahead and feed them some of the food that's been working for your other, larger sized animal just because you think it will work just as fine with your small pup.
Many dog food manufacturers that claim they produce the best and healthiest dog food for small breeds will want you to believe so by trying to impress you by saying things like they have the smallest sized kibble in town that'll be perfect for a small dog the size of yours.
The truth, however, is that there are many factors that come into play besides the size of kibble found in this particular recipe or that one.
Small breed dogs have quite a few different nutritional requirements than others larger in size, all of which we will be talking about in this section.
Toy Breed Dog Formulated Food
Obviously enough, any dog food you're going to be feeding your small breed animals should be one that's specifically formulated for them specifically, and not something that (for example) is formulated for large breeds.
This may seem like just a simple label on a dog food product, but it most certainly isn't.
Dog food that has been specifically formulated for tiny breeds takes into consideration all the necessary levels of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and everything else your small breed canine needs to be getting from their diet.
Calorie Dense Foods
First off, we must consider the fact that because small breed dogs are so tiny in size yet so full of life and energy, they tend to use up that energy much faster than other, larger sized dogs that have plenty more where that came from.
Just because an animal is tiny in size, don't assume they aren't active and don't need that much calories during the day.
If you were to take a small furry friend that weighs around 5-6 lbs out for a walk in the park, you'll see for yourself how fast they use up most of the energy inside them. Chances are they won't even finish the walk and you'll have to carry them back home yourself.
Meanwhile, if you were to take a dog the size of a German Shepherd out for a walk in the park, you'll have a difficult time convincing them that the walk is over and it's time to chill out now! Chances are they still will have a whole lot of energy inside them that they have to channel out through other means.
And, because small breeds have much smaller stomachs that can only take in a very small amount of food in one sitting (as opposed to larger sized dogs that can take in much larger amounts of food in one sitting perfectly fine), any dog food you give them must be "calorie dense".
Calorie dense dog food gives them all the calories they need in much fewer volumes of food, which is perfect for stomachs as small as they have.
And this is requirement #1 when it comes to any brand food being labeled as the best dog food for small breeds, it has to give them all the high number of calories it needs in as little volume as possible.
When doing research yourself about the best dog food for small breeds and comparing one particular product with another, compare how many calories each brand supplies your dog with each cup.
The product that supplies your canine with more calories per cup is usually (and I repeat, usually, not always) the better option for you to go with.
Low-Calorie Dog Food
While small breed dogs do need calorie dense dog food, they really don't need all that many calories during a day's time because of how tiny they are.
Relatively speaking (but not always the case), the smaller their size, the less calories they need during a day, and the larger their size, the more calories they need during a day, so it would only be logical to assume that small breed dogs need fewer calories on a daily basis than your average pup.
Just as is the case when talking about the nutritional requirements of 95% of dogs out there, the most important macro-nutrient your small pet should be getting from their diet is protein, and not just any kind of protein, only the highest quality protein you can find on the market will suffice.
For small sized dogs, protein in their diet is much more important that carbohydrates and dietary fat.
Although the latter two also have their importance in the well-being and sustainability of small dogs, they aren't as important to them as protein.
When we say high quality protein, we usually mean meat based protein.
If you hear anyone telling you that a certain product has high levels of protein, and all you can find is plant based protein, put that product away because it won't do your tiny dog any good.
If you want to find out whether a specific dog food product has enough high quality protein in it or not, check out its ingredient label and look at the first 5 items you find there.
Are they all meat based protein sources? Or are they at least dominated by 3/5 of the ingredients being meat based protein sources?
If the answer to either of these 2 questions is yes, then you more than likely have a food product that's high in protein content.
If the answer to either of these 2 questions is no, then you more than likely have a dog food product that's poor in protein content.
As we said in the section above, although dietary fat isn't as important to small breed dogs as protein is, dietary fat is nonetheless an important part of a healthy, well balanced overall diet you could give them.
When it comes to dietary fat found in food products, the best dog food for small breeds will contain adequate amounts of essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids).
Not only is dietary fat important for the proper development of small breed dogs, dietary fat is absolutely crucial when it comes to helping your tiny dog (or any other canine) maintain the conditions of their coat and skin.
If you don't give them the necessary dietary fat levels they need on a daily basis, you'll soon start to notice that their coat is getting affected by becoming dry and their skin flaky.
In addition to all of the benefits mentioned above, dietary fat goes a long way in ensuring that your small dog can keep up their high energy levels throughout the day and not tire out real fast.
Remember that these are very small dogs that will easily fatigue with short bouts of exercise, so giving them the necessary amounts of dietary fat on a daily basis will help them maintain these energy levels and not become tired as quickly as they're used to.
And, last but not least, canines that get enough dietary fat in their day to day diets are much more efficient at absorbing vitamins and minerals they get from their food than dogs that don't get enough dietary fat in their diets.
As far as carbohydrates in your small dog's diet are concerned, this is an area you have to pay very special attention to.
Because of the fact that small breeds are much more prone than larger breeds to suffer from hypoglycemia (which is the sudden and severe drop in blood sugar levels), it's your duty as an owner of a small breed dog to make sure you feed them a diet that takes this into consideration.
To best make sure that your pet has stable blood sugar levels that's don't crash or rise to abnormal levels, feed them dog food that has the majority of its carbohydrates coming from complex-carbohydrate sources.
Complex carbohydrates will be processed and absorbed by their body in a very slow manner, which means that their blood sugar levels will also remain stable throughout.
On the other hand, if you were to feed your small breed dog a food product that has most of its carbohydrates coming from simple-sugar carbohydrate sources, these carbohydrates will be absorbed and processed by their bodies in a very fast demeanor, meaning a rapid rise in blood sugar levels for a certain period of time, only to be followed by a rapid crash in blood sugar levels shortly after.
And this is the last thing you ever want a dog that has hypoglycemia to go through, as sometimes this could be fatal for a pup their size.
So in general, look for dog food brand that has high amounts of fiber in it, as these products will contain a decent amount of complex-carbohydrate ingredients such as sweet potato, oatmeal, whole fruits such as apples and whole vegetables that are almost always high in fiber and are sources of complex carbohydrates.
Just a quick note about the eating schedule that small dog breeds have to stick to, since we discussed above how their small stomachs can only handle such small volumes of food in one sitting.
Ideally, you should distribute your small dog's food into a minimum of 3 meals per day, this way they will be able to properly digest the food they eat and won't give their digestive systems such a hard time trying to process everything all at once while they clearly can't.
Some people will tell you that it's fine if you feed your small pet everything in one meal per day, but that couldn't be any farther from the truth, as you'll see for yourself that doing this will open up a world of digestive trouble on small breed dogs.
Besides dividing their food into a minimum of 3 equal volume meals per day, you should also make sure that these 3 meals have equal (or at least very similar) amounts of calories, because just like toy dog breeds should be eating small volumes of food every while, they should also be getting in their nutrients and minerals bit by bit throughout the day as well.
Also, dividing their food into a minimum of 3 small meals a day as opposed to one large meal a day will tremendously help them out in keeping their blood sugar levels as stable as possible, and avoiding those rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels that hypoglycemic dogs experience.
Just like it's extremely important that you divide your small breed dog's meals into at least 3 equal meals throughout the day in order to avoid issues like bloating and rapid blood sugar spikes and crashes, it's also very important that you make sure you're not feeding them any extra calories on a daily basis at all.
Just think about it for a second.
For a tiny breed dog that eats around 400 calories a day, feeding them an extra 100 calories a day that they don't really need would mean that they're eating 25% more calories than they should be.
And that's a lot of calories that will make them obese in no time!
Meanwhile, for a gigantic breed like a Great Dane that eats around 2500-3000 calories a day, feeding them an extra 100 calories a day that they don't really need will barely have any effect on their bodies because it's just a measly 4% more calories than they should be eating.
See the difference? It's going to take a whole lot of extra calories to make a large breed dog overweight, but it'll take much less calories to make a small breed dog overweight because they barely get to eat any in the first place.
Check out this video to learn more about the danger of obesity in pets and how to prevent it:
Small Breed Dog Food Price
If there's ever a dog you should be going out of your way to only buy the most premium, highest-quality food available out there, even if that means overspending a bit and getting out of your budget's comfort zone, then it's with a small breed canine.
Why? Well, any premium and high quality dog food bag you'll be feeding them will last you a WHOLE LOT of time!
Don't forget that small breed dogs are much tinier than the average size, which means that they'll be eating much less food throughout the day in order to meet their nutritional requirements.
So, if you're paying around 30$ more on a certain dog food for your small breed dog just to make sure that they're getting the "creme de la creme", you can actually feel very good about that because the bag will last you much longer than it would if you had something like a Great Dane at home, in which case these extra 30$ bills will be adding up real fast.