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Best Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies

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Dog Food By Kelsey Snyder 19 min read April 4, 2021

food for small breed puppies

Proper nutrition is essential for all dogs — big and small.

This is especially true for puppies, who are still growing into their best selves. And because dog breeds vary so much in build, it’s important to find a puppy food that fits your dog’s eventual size. 

Much of the focus in this area is on large-breed puppy food, as large-breed pups need to grow gradually to avoid joint issues, but small breed puppies also have their own unique sets of needs.

Below, we’ll discuss the best dog foods for small breed puppies and share some general tips for keeping your pint-sized pooch well fed.

Best Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies: Quick Picks

  • #1 Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy [Best Overall Kibble for Small Breed Puppies]Made in the USA, fortified with probiotics, and packed with antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits, this kibble checks off every box small-breed puppy owners could want.
  • #2 Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Puppy Formula [Best Overall Wet Food for Small Breed Puppies]A grain-inclusive, US-made wet food featuring high quality proteins, organ meats, and antioxidant-rich fruits that’s ideal for pups that prefer wet food.
  • #3 Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy [Best Budget-Friendly Option]Despite being quite affordable, this small breed dog food is fortified with probiotics and made in the USA with cage-free chicken, making it a nutritious and ethical choice.

The Best Food for Small Breed Puppies

Browsing store aisles can get overwhelming with all the puppy foods available today. Not only that, but reading ingredients labels and tracking down countries of origin can be time-consuming. We’ve taken the guesswork out, running these questions down for you. 

Our top picks for the best small breed puppy food are:

1. Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

Best Overall Kibble for Small Breed Puppies

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Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

Bite-sized kibble that’s made in the USA and packed full of tasty, nutritious ingredients.

About: Support healthy growth with Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy, a well-balanced formula containing no corn, soy, wheat, or by-products. Made with Blue’s signature LifeSource Bits, this kibble is rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

Features:

  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Small breed-friendly kibble size
  • Contains DHA for healthy brain and eye development.
  • Made in the USA

Crude Protein Content: 29.0% minimum

Options: Packaged in 6- and 15-pound bags. A grain-free version is also available.

Ingredients List

Deboned chicken, Chicken meal, Oatmeal, Barley, Menhaden fish meal...,

Peas, Dried egg product, Brown rice, Chicken fat, Dried tomato pomace, Flaxseed, Natural flavor, Pea protein, Fish oil, Dicalcium phosphate, Salt, Dehydrated alfalfa meal, Potassium chloride, Potatoes, Dried chicory root, Choline chloride, Pea fiber, Alfalfa nutrient concentrate, Calcium carbonate, Dl-Methionine, Mixed tocopherols, Vitamin E supplement, Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Zinc amino acid chelate, Zinc sulfate, Vegetable juice, Ferrous sulfate, Iron amino acid chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried kelp, Yucca schidigera extract, Niacin, Calcium pantothenate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, L-Lysine, Copper sulfate, Biotin, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese amino acid chelate, Thiamine mononitrate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin B12 supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Calcium iodate, Dried yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic acid, Sodium selenite, Rosemary oil

Pros

  • Deboned chicken is the first listed ingredient
  • Made with high-quality grains
  • An affordable yet high-quality kibble
  • Small kibble size is suitable for tiny puppy mouths

Cons

  • Taste isn’t a favorite for some dogs
  • Mixed proteins can be an issue for puppies with allergies
  • Some dogs pick around the LifeSource Bits

2. Wellness CORE Natural Small Breed Puppy Food

Best High-Protein Kibble for Small Breed Puppies

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Wellness CORE Natural Small Breed Puppy Food

Wellness CORE Natural Small Breed Puppy Food

A tasty, vitamin-packed, grain-free option for pups with diagnosed grain sensitivities.

About: If your puppy who needs plenty of protein, but cannot tolerate grains, Wellness CORE Natural Small Breed Puppy Food is one of the best kibble options available. Perfect for dogs with food sensitivities, it doesn’t contain corn, soy, or non-GMO ingredients.

Features:

  • First ingredient is deboned turkey, followed by chicken and turkey meal
  • Contains real fruits and vegetables 
  • Tiny, bite-sized kibble is made with small breed mouths in mind
  • Made in the USA

Crude Protein Content: 38.0% minimum

Options: Available in 4 and 12-pound bags.

Ingredients List

Deboned turkey, Chicken meal, Turkey meal, Peas, Chicken fat...,

Tomato pomace, Salmon meal, Dried ground potatoes, Ground flaxseed, Salmon oil, Natural chicken flavor, Salt, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, Taurine, Bananas, Spearmint, Zinc proteinate, Mixed tocopherols, Zinc sulfate, Calcium carbonate, Niacin, Iron proteinate, Ferrous sulfate, Broccoli, Carrots, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Kale, Sweet potatoes, Spinach, Vitamin A supplement, Copper sulfate, Thiamine mononitrate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Manganese sulfate, d-Calcium pantothenate, Sodium selenite, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, Biotin, Calcium iodate, Vitamin B12 supplement, Folic acid, Ascorbic acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Rosemary extract, Green tea extract, Spearmint extract

Pros

  • Taste gets a paw’s up from pups
  • Contains more protein than most similar products
  • Kibble size works well for small mouths
  • Relatively affordable for a high-quality, grain-free diet

Cons

  • Contains multiple proteins, which can be an issue for dogs with allergies
  • Dogs with delicate tummies may find it too rich
  • Not a good choice for dogs who can tolerate grains

3. Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Food

Best Kibble Size for Tiny Puppy Mouths

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Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Food

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Food

US-made, grain-inclusive kibble featuring turkey and other nutritious ingredients.

About: Help nurture your four-footer’s growth with Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Food. Made with an assortment of high-quality ingredients, this kibble provides your pupper with a well-rounded diet of protein and vegetables.

Features:

  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Contains no meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives 
  • Small kibble size for easy eating
  • Made in the USA

Crude Protein Content: 28.0% minimum

Options: Offered in a 4-pound bag.

Ingredients List

Deboned turkey, Chicken meal, Oatmeal, Salmon meal, Barley...,

Ground brown rice, Oats, Chicken fat, Tomato pomace, Menhaden fish meal, Tomatoes, Pea fiber, Salmon oil, Natural chicken flavor, Carrots, Spinach, Potassium chloride, Ground flaxseed, Salt, Sweet potatoes, Blueberries, Apples, Choline chloride, Mixed tocopherols, Vitamin E supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, Taurine, Zinc proteinate, Zinc sulfate, Calcium carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous sulfate, Iron proteinate, Vitamin A supplement, Ascorbic acid, Copper sulfate, Thiamine mononitrate, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Manganese sulfate, d-Calcium pantothenate, Sodium selenite, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Biotin, Calcium iodate, Vitamin B12 supplement, Folic acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Rosemary extract, Green tea extract, Spearmint extract

Pros

  • Deboned turkey is the first listed ingredient
  • Made with quality carbohydrates for energy
  • Small kibble size makes it easy for pint-sized pooches to eat
  • Fortified with probiotics

Cons

  • Only comes in 4-pound bags, which goes quickly if you have multiple puppies 
  • Mixed-protein foods can be problematic for dogs with allergies

4. NUTRO Natural Choice Puppy Food

Best Combination of Quality and Affordability

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Nutro puppy food

NUTRO Natural Choice Puppy Food

Protein-packed kibble featuring grains and immune-system-supporting antioxidants.

About: NUTRO Natural Choice Puppy Food is a quality kibble made with farm-raised chicken and non-GMO ingredients. Ideal for small breed pups who need a grain-inclusive diet, this food contains no corn, soy, wheat, or byproducts. 

Features:

  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Contains brain-boosting DHA and coat-nourishing omega-3s
  • Made in the USA

Crude Protein Content: 28.0% minimum

Options: Available in 5 and 13-pound bags.

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken meal, Whole grain barley, Brewers rice, Whole grain brown rice...,

Potato protein, Chicken fat, Rice bran, Natural flavor, Dried plain beet pulp, Fish oil, Salt, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, Citric acid, Mixed tocopherols, Chia seed, Dried coconut, Dried tomato pomace, Dried egg product, Dried pumpkin, Dried kale, Dried spinach, Vitamin E supplement, Ferrous sulfate, Zinc oxide, Sodium selenite, Ascorbic acid, D-Calcium pantothenate, Manganese sulfate, Copper sulfate, Biotin, Thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin B12 supplement, Vitamin A supplement, Niacin supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Manganous oxide, Potassium iodide, Folic acid, Rosemary extract

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Contains back-to-back, chicken-based proteins at the top of the ingredient list
  • Features several antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies

Cons

  • Kibble may be too large for toy breed puppies
  • Only available in a single protein option (chicken)
  • Taste isn’t a favorite for every dog

5. Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Puppy Dry Food

Best Grain-Free Option for Small Breed Puppies

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Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Puppy Dry Food

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Puppy Dry Food

A grain-free, protein- and fat-rich kibble made with nutritious fruits and veggies.

About: Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Puppy Dry Food has the quality ingredients you want with the hidden perks you need, like probiotics. Also containing glucosamine and chondroitin for your puppy’s joints and omega-3s for his coat, he’ll be looking and feeling great with every bite.

Features:

  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Small kibble size
  • Includes DHA for brain and eye health
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 28.0% minimum

Options: Available in 4 and 10-pound bags.

Ingredients List

Deboned chicken, Chicken meal, Potatoes, Peas, Sweet potatoes...,

Chicken fat, Potato protein, Natural flavor, Flaxseed oil, Salmon oil, Apples, Blueberries, Inulin, Gelatin, Salt, Organic dried alfalfa meal, Yucca schidigera extract, Zinc sulfate, Iron amino acid complex, Zinc amino acid complex, Manganese amino acid complex, Copper amino acid complex, Potassium iodide, Cobalt proteinate, Sodium selenite, Cobalt carbonate, Choline chloride, Vitamin E supplement, Vitamin A acetate, Vitamin B12 supplement, d-Calcium pantothenate, Vitamin D3 supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Folic acid, Thiamine mononitrate, Dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casein fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product

Pros

  • Many pup parents report dogs enjoying the taste
  • The grain-free formula with no corn, soy, or wheat makes it ideal for sensitive systems
  • Omega-3-rich recipe helps limit inflammation
  • Packed with five different probiotic strains

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some pickier pups disliked the taste
  • Only available in chicken

6. Canidae Pure Petite Raw Coated Puppy Food

Best Kibble for Small Breed Puppies with Food Allergies

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Canidae Pure Petite Raw Coated Puppy Food

Canidae Pure Petite Raw Coated Puppy Food

Made for pups with food allergies, this kibble features only a single animal-based protein.

About: Give your dog’s diet an all-natural boost with Canidae Pure Petite Raw Coated Puppy Food. Packed with antioxidants and probiotics, this kibble has your pupper’s health in mind from nose to tail. Plus, the inclusion of freeze-dried raw bits makes this an especially drool-worthy diet for doggos.

Features:

  • Salmon is the first ingredient
  • Corn, soy, and wheat-free
  • Loaded with fatty acids for skin and coat health
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 24.0% minimum

Options: Available in 4 and 10-pound bags.

Ingredients List

Salmon, Salmon meal, Lentils, Peas, Tapioca...,

Canola oil, Garbanzo beans, Freeze-dried salmon, Natural flavor, Flaxseed, Iron proteinate, Zinc proteinate, Copper proteinate, Ferrous sulfate, Zinc sulfate, Copper sulfate, Potassium iodide, Manganese proteinate, Manganous oxide, Manganese sulfate, Sodium selenite, Vitamin E supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Ascorbic acid, Vitamin A supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium pantothenate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid, Choline chloride, Mixed tocopherols, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Contains a source of live naturally occurring microorganisms

Pros

  • Flavor is a win, even with picky dogs
  • Relatively affordable for a high-quality food
  • Antioxidant-rich recipe helps support immune function
  • Kibble size is perfect for small dogs

Cons

  • Only offered in one protein type, which is a bummer for dogs with allergies
  • Fishy smell can be off-putting to some pups (and owners)

7. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy

Best Budget-Friendly Food for Small Breed Puppies

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Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy

Affordable, probiotic-fortified, US-made kibble that contains no artificial additives.

AboutDiamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy provides a balanced diet for your growing little one. Made with a variety of fruits and vegetables, it contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

Features:

  • Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient
  • Added DHA helps with brain and eye development 
  • Contains probiotics for gut health
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 32.0% minimum

Options: Comes in 6, 18, 40-pound bags. 

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken meal, Ground white rice, Chicken fat, Cracked pearled barley...,

Egg product, Dried yeast, Dried beet pulp, Fish meal, Ground miscanthus grass, Flaxseed, Natural flavor, Salmon oil, Salt, Potassium chloride, Choline chloride, Dried chicory root, Kale, Chia seed, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Oranges, Quinoa, Dried kelp, Coconut, Spinach, Carrots, Papaya, Yucca schidigera extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, Vitamin E supplement, Beta carotene, Iron proteinate, Zinc proteinate, Copper proteinate, Ferrous sulfate, Zinc sulfate, Copper sulfate, Potassium iodide, Thiamine mononitrate, Manganese proteinate, Manganous oxide, Ascorbic acid, Vitamin A supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium pantothenate, Manganese sulfate, Sodium selenite, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D supplement, Folic acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms

Pros

  • Chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients
  • Affordable, high-quality food
  • Tiny kibble size works great, even with toy breeds
  • Taste is a winner with most pups

Cons

  • Only comes in one protein option — chicken
  • Manufacturer has had a few recalls in the past

8. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Puppy Formula (Wet)

Best Overall Canned Food for Small Breed Puppies

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Blue Buffalo wet food

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Puppy Formula

A tasty, US-made, grain-inclusive food packed with real chicken and organ meats.

About: Help your growing four-footer get the nutrition he needs with Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Puppy Formula. Made with high-quality ingredients, including real fruits and vegetables, this canned food formula delivers muscle-building protein and DHA for brain development.

Features:

  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Can be served as a meal topper or complete meal
  • Contains no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 10.0% minimum

Options: Offered in a chicken-based formula, these are packaged in 12.5-ounce cans. A grain-free version is also available.

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken broth, Chicken liver, Carrots, Peas...,

Pea flour, Sweet potatoes, Brown rice, Barley, Fish oil, Oatmeal, Flaxseed, Guar gum, Dicalcium phosphate, Potassium chloride, Salt, Cassia gum, Carrageenan, Cranberries, Blueberries, Choline chloride, Zinc amino acid chelate, Iron amino acid chelate, Vitamin E supplement, Copper amino acid chelate, Mannese amino acid chelate, Sodium selenite, Thiamine mononitrate, Cobalt amino acid chelate, Niacin supplement, Calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, Potassium iodide, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid, Mixed tocopherols

Pros

  • Full of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies
  • Absolutely packed with chicken flavor
  • Relatively affordable
  • Grain-inclusive recipe, which is a bit rare among canned foods

Cons

  • Single protein option is a bummer for dogs with allergies
  • Messy to serve
  • Doesn’t help clean teeth like kibble

9. Nutro Tender Cuts in Gravy Puppy Formula 

Best Grain-Free Wet Food for Small Breed Puppies

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Nutro wet food

Nutro Tender Cuts in Gravy Puppy Formula

A grain-free, gravy-coated food made with non-GMO ingredients and tender chicken.

About: Nutro’s Tender Cuts in Gravy Puppy Formula provides peace of mind to pup parents who have four-footers with sensitivities, as it contains no grains, corn, soy, or wheat. With quality front and center, it includes nutrient-rich organ meat and real fruits and vegetables.

Features:

  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Never contains byproducts
  • Small mouth-minded, it features bite-sized chunked meat in a tasty gravy
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 8.0% minimum

Options: Available in beef and chicken formulas.

Ingredients List

Beef, Chicken broth, Pork broth, Peas, Chicken...,

Carrots, Chicken liver, Pork plasma, Tapioca starch, Dried egg product, Pea fiber, Calcium carbonate, Potassium chloride, Salt, Dried tomatoes, Xanthan gum, Choline chloride, Fish oil, Sodium acid pyrophosphate, Tetrasodium pyrophosphate, Magnesium proteinate, Sodium hexametaphosphate, Manganese sulfate, Zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, D-Calcium pantothenate, Biotin, Copper sulfate, Thiamine mononitrate, Riboflavin supplement, Potassium iodide, Vitamin A supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 supplement, Vitamin D3 supplement

Pros

  • Chunky texture in gravy may be more palatable for pickier puppies
  • Comes in conveniently sized tubs that your puppy can eat from to save time with cleanup
  • Multiple broth flavors make it especially savory for your schnauzer 

Cons

  • Doesn’t help with teeth cleaning as much as kibble
  • More protein options would be ideal for dogs will sensitivities 

10. Solid Gold Mighty Mini Small Dog Food (Wet)

Most Convenient-to-Feed Food for Small Breed Puppies

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Solid Gold Mighty Mini Small Dog Food

Solid Gold Mighty Mini Small Dog Food (Wet)

A grain-free, US-made food for all life stages that doesn’t contain any artificial additives.

About: Solid Gold Mighty Mini Small Dog Food is ideal for puppies suffering from food sensitivities with its grain-free formula free of corn, soy, and wheat. Made with healthy fatty acids, it’ll nourish your puppy’s coat to grow in beautifully.

Features:

  • Contains real meat and organs
  • All life stages formula is suitable for puppies, adults, and seniors alike
  • Suitable as a complete meal or as a topper
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 7.5% minimum

Options: The canned formula is available in four proteins: chicken, turkey, lamb, and salmon. There’s also a kibble variety, if you’re looking to have the best of both worlds. 

Ingredients List

Turkey, Turkey broth, Water sufficient for processing, Turkey liver, Peas...,

Dried egg whites, Carrots, Potato starch, Guar gum, Sodium phosphate, Salt, Spinach, Natural flavor, Pumpkin, Potassium chloride, Cranberries, Fish oil, Choline chloride, Dicalcium phosphate, Zinc proteinate, Iron proteinate, Blueberries, Apples, Xanthan gum, Vitamin E supplement, Copper proteinate, Manganese proteinate, Sodium selenite, Thiamine mononitrate, Cobalt proteinate, Niacin supplement, d-Calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, Potassium iodide, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid

Pros

  • Meaty mixture with real fruits and veggies gets a tail wag of approval
  • Packaged in convenient containers that you can feed your dog out of (less cleanup!)
  • Most dogs with sensitive stomachs seem capable of digesting this easily

Cons

  • Slightly lower protein content than similar products
  • Doesn’t clean your dog’s teeth like kibble

11. Merrick Lil’ Bites (Wet) 

Best Wet Food to Use as a Topper for Small-Breed Puppies

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Merrick canned food

Merrick Lil’ Bites

Gravy-coated, protein-packed food that’s fortified with joint-supporting supplements.

About:

Serve up a tasty meal to your pooch with Merrick Lil’ Plates, a protein-rich canned dog food made with real meat and vegetables. Containing glucosamine and chondroitin, it nurtures your puppy’s growing joints for a lifetime of fun and play.

Features:

  • Deboned meat is always the first ingredient
  • Grain-free formula without corn or soy 
  • Comes in a convenient dish that can be offered to your dog — saving cleanup time
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 8.5% minimum

Options: Available in 10 proteins, including staples such as lamb and beef and rare options, like rabbit and duck.

Ingredients List

Deboned duck, Duck broth, Chicken broth, Chicken liver, Deboned chicken...,

Dried egg whites, Potato starch, Potatoes, Carrots, Peas, Guar gum, Tricalcium phosphate, Sunflower oil, Sodium phosphate, Salt, Natural flavor, Potassium chloride, Zinc amino acid chelate, Iron amino acid chelate, Copper amino acid chelate, Manganese amino acid chelate, Sodium selenite, Cobalt amino acid chelate, Potassium iodide, Vitamin E supplement, Thiamine mononitrate, Niacin supplement, D-Calcium pantothenate, Vitamin A supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 supplement, Folic acid, Choline chloride, Xanthan gum

Pros

  • Chunky meat in a gravy pleases even the pickiest of palates
  • Small 3.5-ounce portions perfect for small breeds
  • Easy to offer to your dog in included packaging

Cons

  • Some contain mixed proteins, so pawrents of doggos with sensitivities should read each label carefully
  • Some owners felt there was a bit too much gravy (not that your dog will complain)
  • Doesn’t clean your dog’s teeth like kibble

Things to Look for in Any Puppy Food 

Picking a small breed puppy food

Proper nutrition is essential when your puppy’s developing, which is why puppy food is specially formulated with more nutrients than adult dog food, like protein and amino acids. Unfortunately, not every dog food for puppies is created equal, and some are certainly better than others in regards to ingredients and overall safety.

With any puppy food, there are some key factors to look for when making your purchase. Some of the most important include:

  • The food must meet or exceed AAFCO guidelines for growth or all life stages
  • The food should be made in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Western Europe
  • Pick a food with a whole, nutritious meat protein as the first listed ingredient
  • Make sure that all proteins are labeled properly (look for “chicken meal” rather than “meat meal”)
  • The food shouldn’t contain artificial colors or flavors (they’re unnecessary and potentially problematic)
  • Grain-inclusive recipes are preferable, unless your dog has a diagnosed grain sensitivity
  • Probiotic-fortified foods are ideal, but not required (you can use standalone canine probiotic supplements if you prefer)

Important Things to Look for When Seeking a Small Breed Puppy Food

picking a dog food for puppies

The dietary needs of small breed puppies are both nutritionally and physically different from bigger pups. Some are more obvious than others, but all are important to consider before deciding on a food. 

When searching for a small breed puppy food, pay close attention to:

  • Kibble Size: Your puppy will require smaller kiblets than larger dogs. Not only are these smaller pieces easier to fit in your dog’s tiny mouth, but they’re less of a choking risk and help clean your puppy’s teeth better than large chunks of kibble.
  • Calorie-dense: Small breeds burn calories faster than larger dogs, and with little stomachs, they can only hold so much, so every bite needs to count.
  • Omega-3s: Many small breeds have long and luscious coats, and a steady supply of omega-3s helps maintain coat health. In addition, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) promotes brain and eye development.
  • Tasty: Pickiness can be prevalent with small breeds, so seek a kibble he’s happy to eat on its own. Wet food can be used instead or as a topper (many pups find them more palatable), but only if you plan on sticking with it. Otherwise, your pup may refuse plain kibble down the road. 
  • Hardness: Small breeds are prone to dental issues, making finding a crunchy kibble paramount in keeping his teeth strong (along with regular brushing.)

With any food change, make sure the switch is gradual. Slowly incorporate increasingly larger amounts of your pup’s new food in with his old, over the course of about a week. This will help reduce the likelihood that your pup will experience digestive upset.

Also, once you find a small breed puppy that works best for your four-footer, stick with it. Small breeds are often more challenging to house train, and an upset stomach won’t make it any easier.

Feeding a Small Breed Puppy Properly

Once you have a quality dog food in mind, it’s time to feed your little fur friend, but you may still have some questions, including:

How often should you feed a small breed puppy?

Proper feeding frequency will vary by your dog’s weight, age, and individual nutritional needs. Small breeds burn through food faster than their larger friends, and may need to eat more frequently, especially if they have blood-sugar issues (more common in toy breeds).

Consult your puppy food’s label for the recommended serving size and frequency and obviously keep your vet in the loop. All that said, generally, small breed puppies eat between two and four times a day.

How many calories does a small breed puppy need?

As with how often he should eat, the amount of calories needed by a small breed puppy varies by his age, weight, and nutritional needs. This is also affected by how active your dog is. For example, a working Jack Russell terrier puppy needs more calories than his couch potato littermate. 

A basic formula by the Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medical Center states that a puppy needs three times his resting energy requirement from birth to four months old, and from then on, two times his resting energy requirement until adulthood.

To calculate your puppy’s resting energy requirement, you take your puppy’s weight in kilograms and raise it to the ¾ power. You then multiply this by 70 (don’t worry: Ohio State’s page provides a simple chart for math-averse owners).

How long should you feed a small breed dog puppy food?

Your small breed puppy should eat puppy food until he reaches about 80% of his adult size, which is usually until he’s between 9 and 12 months old. Small breeds grow much faster than large breeds, who eat puppy food for as long as 18 to 24 months.

Is it OK to feed a small breed puppy adult food?

It isn’t ideal to feed a puppy adult dog food. Puppy food is formulated to fit the needs of a growing pup, meaning certain nutrients are more concentrated, like protein. Your puppy needs these extra nutrients as he develops, otherwise, he’s being short-changed in a critical window of growth.

A one-off meal of adult food won’t cause your pooch to fall seriously ill, but it may upset his stomach.  

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Has your four-footer tried any of the small breed puppy foods we listed? Is there another that sends his tail wagging? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey is a K9 of Mine contributor who has worked with dogs as a shift runner and office manager of a boarding kennel. When she’s not writing, she can be found throwing a ball or losing at tug of war. An animal lover to the max, she lives in South Jersey with her husband, her five dogs Boomer, Taj, Batman, Maya, and Moxie, some kitties, and two grumpy turtles.

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