What to Feed a Small Dog

A small dog eating kibble from a bowl

While every dog has unique needs, some dogs can benefit from foods specially formulated for their breed size. If you have a toy dog (up to 12 pounds at maturity) or a small dog (up to 20 pounds), you may be interested in feeding him a dog food for small breeds. Read on to learn what to feed a small dog and how much you should be feeding your small dog.

What to Feed a Small Dog

Whether you’re a seasoned small dog owner, or this is your first pet, you may be wondering if there’s any difference in the care that small dogs needs versus large dogs. The short answer is yes – small dogs have some different needs compared to large dogs. When it comes to dietary needs in particular, what your dog eats and how often they eat is an important part of their care routine.

Here are two things that you may want to consider when deciding what to feed a small dog:

Feed a Nutrient-Dense Food

Smaller dogs tend to have higher metabolic rates and smaller stomachs, which is why they need a high-quality, nutrient-dense food. Small breed dog food is typically formulated with a higher level of protein, fat, calories and other nutrients than standard adult dog foods so that your small dog gets all the nutrition that he needs.

Opt for a Smaller Kibble Size

Your small dog most likely has a smaller jaw and smaller throat than a larger dog and may struggle to eat large kibble. It’s important to make sure that the kibble you’re feeding your dog fits into his mouth and that he can chew it properly before swallowing. If the kibble is too big, your dog may attempt to swallow it without fully chewing it. Tiny, bite-sized kibble, like the kibble used in Beneful IncrediBites formulas, can make it easier for your dog to chew.

How Much to Feed a Small Dog

The general recommendation is to feed your dog once or twice a day. However, smaller dogs often do well with more frequent feedings at a lesser volume. Because small dogs have smaller stomachs than larger dogs, it’s important to moderate their portion sizes.

It’s common when considering how much to feed a small dog to assume that all adult dog breeds should be fed the same. However, that’s simply not true. Smaller breed dogs have specific requirements that are dictated by their size. Different sized dogs require different levels of calories, protein and carbohydrates based on how their body is built. You should never feed your small dog the same amount of food that you’re feeding a large breed dog since their energy requirements are not the same.

Always make sure to check with your vet on the number of calories that are appropriate for your small breed dog and to follow the feeding guidelines on your dog’s food. You can also check out our dog feeding guide for more information on feeding your pup.

Avoid Overfeeding

Small dogs can be prone to weight gain, and because of their small size, an extra pound or two can have serious health consequences. While a couple of extra pounds may not sound like a big deal to us  humans, adding only a few pounds to a small dog’s body weight can add a lot of stress on bones and organs or even exacerbate existing medical conditions.

Always make sure to monitor the amount of food that you’re feeding your dog and make sure to not overfeed him. As long as you are following the feeding recommendations found on your dog’s food and/or recommendations from your vet, your dog is getting the nutrition that he needs.

Choosing a Small Breed Dog Food

Feeding a small breed dog isn’t as complicated as one might think. However, it is important to consider smaller portion sizes when deciding how much to feed a small dog. Also, kibble size is an important factor to consider so that your dog is chewing his food with ease. Because small dogs tend to burn energy more quickly than larger dogs, it’s a good idea to consider a small breed dog food when deciding what to feed a small dog.

Ready to choose a dog food for your small breed dog? Check out all of our small breed dog food formulas.

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