My Chihuahuas are of a small breed, but looking at how they act when they come across larger dogs makes me think that they believe otherwise. But while they can be a bit reckless when it comes to *cough* sizing up their opponents, I couldn’t very well do the same when choosing their food.
You see, not all dogs are the same when it comes to nutritional needs. So we as their owners really have to size up the options that the market is presenting to us in order to ensure that our dogs are getting the best nutritional diet that they could.
Your Chihuahua may be onto something when he acts as if he could take on the neighbor’s much larger dog, at least when it comes to nutritional needs. Surprisingly, a lot of the smaller breeds actually need more calories per part of food than their bigger counterparts. If you thought that smaller breeds are less high-maintenance, then you’re in for a surprise.
Of course, dogs as a whole have certain needs when it comes to the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that their bodies need to sustain their lifestyles. And much like us humans, there is such thing as a balanced diet when it comes to dogs. While in the wild most dogs remain carnivorous, domesticated ones like yours or mine also need other sources of nutrition like fruits, grains, and vegetables aside from just meat.
Apart from that, dogs have different nutritional needs when they’re at different life stages. When they’re still puppies, they need more to address the demands of their growing and developing bodies. And elderly dogs may also need special diets to accommodate some health concerns like sensitive stomachs, and so on.
To make things even more complicated for us fur parents, sometimes dogs have breed specific needs that need to be addressed by their diet. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that each breed has their own kind of food, as a lot of the dog foods on the market are enough to cater to the needs of the majority of these breeds.
But for today, I’m going to help you choose the best dog food that’s specifically for smaller breeds of dogs. As I already mentioned above, small breed dogs need different nutritional requirements to be met by their food as compared to larger ones.
As for my dogs, I needed a dog food brand that could provide them with a good amount of protein and calories to help sustain their active personalities. Another problem that I had with dog food that wasn’t specially formulated for small breeds was that their kibbles were too big for my dogs to eat properly. While that didn’t really put a damper on my dogs’ practically insatiable hunger, it did make eating a little uncomfortable (and unsafe!) for them.
Another concern of mine was avoiding making my dogs hypoglycemic. You see, small dog breeds, especially their puppies, are prone to hypoglycemia because of the way their bodies work. Their metabolisms are usually fast, their blood sugar low, and have low body fat reserve. Sadly, I lost one pup for this exact reason and I’ve been wary about what I fed my dogs from then on. That meant I had to look for dog food that had good calorie content to keep this from happening.
However, higher calorie intakes also didn’t mean that I was supposed to overfeed my dogs, because that could lead to obesity which is another problematic health issue that dogs can get. As such, I had to find a dog food that had high calories per pound to avoid the overfeeding problem.
Another issue I had with my dogs was that despite their appetites, they still had the capability to be picky about their food. Eating human food was no problem for them, but when it came to actual dog food they stepped away from their food bowls as if they smell something nasty. I tried brand after brand to see what would pique their taste buds, and it took me quite a while to find some that they actually liked.
Here’s the tricky part. There are so many dog foods on the market all claiming to be the best. The prospect of finding a dog food that met my dogs’ needs alone was dizzying, and then I realized just how much there was to choose from. And you probably have the same problem, right? So in order to help out others who might have the same problem, I decided to review three of the best-selling dog foods for small dogs.
First up is the Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food that’s made for small and toy breeds. What I like about this brand is that not only do they have a dog food that specifically caters to small breeds, but it’s also further subdivided to meet more specific needs.
For instance, they have a formulation that’s specifically for small breed puppies, and for small breed adults older than 7 and 11 years old. The general adult option is available in two flavors: Chicken Meal & Rice and Lamb Meal & Rice, which offered more options when it came to taste. For dogs that need less calories in their food, an Adult Light option is also available from them.
I don’t know about you, but it makes me rest easy that I know where my dogs’ food is manufactured. In the case of Hill’s Science, it’s made in the USA, which is a huge plus for me. There have been several issues regarding the quality of some dog food manufactured from other countries in the past, which even led to the recall of a lot of popular brands.
Another thing that I like about this dog food is that it came in a resealable bag, which meant that I didn’t have to put the kibble in another container to keep it air tight once I opened the bag. It helped keep my dog’s food fresh and dry, and with less hassle too.
Just one but significant problem that had me moving on from this brand was that it isn’t totally grain free. And seeing as one of my dogs had a grain allergy, I had to get another brand to avoid aggravating her allergies, which was pretty sad because this was one of the few brands that my dogs actually liked. Bethany also mentioned on her review that her dog started getting allergies after eating this food.
The good news is that other people who bought this dog food also seem to be loving it (well, at least their dogs are). For example, Patty said that her own Yorkie (who likes cat and human food better than dog food) absolutely loves this food. Another reviewer on Amazon, Chey, also shares the sentiments for her picky long-haired Chi, who’s old enough to only have 4 teeth left but still has no problem eating the kibble of this food. So unless your small breed dog has a grain allergy, then this is probably a good option for you.
The next review is for the Blue Buffalo Life Protection dry adult dog food for small breeds. Like Hill’s Science, their food for small breeds is also manufactured in the USA and comes in different flavors. In fact, Blue Buffalo gives you four options to choose from. However, unlike Hill’s Science, they don’t have life stage specific dog food for small breeds, just for adult ones.
I shifted to this brand after one of my dog’s allergies got aggravated with Hill’s Science, and the good thing was that it cleared up once I changed their food to this. Luckily, my dogs liked this just as much as they did the other one.
While this dog food bought from other places is quite safe, one thing that made me stop getting it was that there have been some packaging issues when ordered from Amazon. Other people had the same problems, with bags arriving torn, some even had to deal with bug-infested food, and dogs getting stomach problems like throwing up and diarrhea.
Personally, I don’t think the problem’s with the brand itself. But I had to find new dog food before my own dogs started becoming affected by whatever’s wrong with the recent shipments.
The last product in this review is the Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dog Food. Yup, you read that right, it’s grain free! But before I rejoiced with this brand having what I needed in terms of allergy prevention, I had to make sure that it met my other requirements too. After all, I want only the best for my dogs.
Like Blue Buffalo, Wellness CORE does not have life stage-specific options for small breeds. In fact, it’s just one formulation for small breeds. But here’s where it gets exciting. Not only is this product grain free, its ingredients are also all-natural. The food is manufactured in the USA too. I just had a little issue with one ingredient, the green tea extract, being sourced from China. But apart from that, everything was looking well on the ingredient front.
Not only do my dogs like it, I also noticed that they had more energy eating this food as compared to the others, so I guess the brand’s claims of optimized calorie levels is no joke. And while I didn’t have the same problem with my dogs, other reviewers from Amazon are saying that eating this dog food also helped their dog’s digestive issues.
While being the priciest of the three brands, you really get your money’s worth with Wellness CORE. And so far the only thing I don’t like about it is the limited flavor options. One ingredient, the green tea extract, is sourced from China but it doesn't seem to be a problem for my dogs. As for other buyers, this user from Amazon got a moldy batch but the Amazon support center refunded them for it.
And the best one out of these three is… Wellness CORE’s Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food! However, Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food fared better when it came to the number of available options. So it’s just a matter of whether or not your dog has grain allergies, and you could pick from the two.