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Best Dog Foods for Small Breed Dogs: 11 Amazing Eats for Petite Pups

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Dog Food By Kelsey Leicht 21 min read November 14, 2023

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best foods for small dog breeds

Teeny yet tenacious, small dogs have unique nutritional needs that are different from those of  big barkers. From ensuring food’s small enough to eat to packing in more calories in every bite, your small floof requires a diet that suits her petite build.

We’ll explain how small breed eats differ from those for larger pups and share a few of our picks for the best dog foods for small breed dogs below.

Best Overall Small Breed Dog Food
Best Small Breed Dog Food for Picky Dogs
Most Affordable Food for Small Breed Dogs
Best Small Breed Dog Food for Picky Dogs
Most Affordable Food for Small Breed Dogs

How Do Small Breed Dog Foods Differ from Other Kinds of Foods?

what is different about small dog food

Just as giant dogs need balanced nutrition to ensure proper growth, small dogs have special nutrient needs. Don’t let your doggo’s size fool you; she needs plenty of fuel for adventures ahead.

Small breed dog food is distinct from large dog options in two primary ways:

  • Caloric density: Calorie-rich food is essential for little dogs, as these petite pooches have faster metabolisms and smaller stomachs than bigger canines.
  • Smaller kibble size: Tiny bodies come with tiny jaws, so kibble needs to be cut smaller to accommodate a small dog’s mouth size and teeth. With little dogs being prone to dental issues long-term, these easy eats are a must, along with regular toothbrushing.

Some small-breed foods are also balanced differently, ensuring your pint-sized pup isn’t getting an overload of vitamins and minerals. 

What’s a small breed?

To keep things uniform, we’re considering “small dogs” to be those under 20 pounds in weight. This includes a broad mix of breeds, from toy companions to rough-and-tumble terriers, so we’ve compiled everything from high-energy eats to healthy-weight recipes.

The 11 Best Small Breed Dog Foods

small breed dog foods

We’ve rounded up the best small breed dog foods, including premium fresh finds, crunchy kibbles, and flavor-packed options ideal for pickier puppers. Let’s run through them together and see if any suit your compact companion.

1. Ollie

Best Overall Small Breed Dog Food
Ollie Fresh Dog Food
A flavorful mix of easy-to-chew, human-grade ground meat and vegetables.
Special Discount: We've cut a deal with Ollie -- new customers can get 50% off!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

About: Ollie is a fresh food made with human-grade ingredients, from antioxidant-rich berries and spinach to salmon oil with omega-3s — all in meat-centered hash that dogs adore. Customized to your canine, Ollie is pre portioned to suit your dog’s age, size, activity level, and more, ensuring your petite pupperino maintains her figure and peak energy. 

Features:

  • A veterinary nutritionist formulates all recipes 
  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Ground texture is a breeze for all dogs to eat, including those with dental issues
  • Made in the USA using human-grade ingredients 

Options: Available in Chicken, Beef, Turkey, and Lamb recipes.

Ingredients List

Chicken, Rice, Carrots, Chicken Livers, Peas, Potatoes, Spinach...,

Cranberries, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salmon Oil, Salt, Taurine, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulphate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Potassium Iodide.

Pros

  • Customized to your small breed’s size, allergies, and exercise needs
  • It’s hard to top the quality of human-grade ingredients
  • Most dogs love the taste – even pickier pooches

Cons

  • Supreme quality comes with a higher price tag than most dog foods
  • Requires refrigerator or freezer space
Want to know more about Ollie?

Read our Ollie dog food review, including our real-life experience with the food, featuring Remy, the expert taste tester. Learn about pricing, pros, cons, and more.

2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult

Best Small Breed Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult
A small-breed specific kibble made in the USA with quality protein, grains, and produce.
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About: Offer your little dog big taste and nutrition with Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult, a crunchy kibble featuring small pieces that petite puppers can chomp with ease, keeping teeth cleaner between brushing. This grain-inclusive dry food fuels your dog’s next adventure with rice, oatmeal, and barley, plus it has probiotics to aid in healthy digestion and fatty acids for skin and coat health.

Features:

  • Real deboned meat is the primary ingredient
  • Antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits give your pup’s immune system a boost
  • Glucosamine nourishes your dog’s joints from head to toe
  • Made in the USA using global ingredients

Options: Available in Chicken & Brown Rice and Lamb & Brown Rice.

Ingredients List

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley...,

Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Pea Starch, Dried Tomato Pomace, Peas, Pea Protein, Dried Egg Product, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, Dried Chicory Root, Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), 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 (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary

Pros

  • Tiny, crunchy kibblets are easy for small pups to eat 
  • Pricing isn’t too bad for such a high-quality food
  • Probiotics give your pup’s tummy a helping hand

Cons

  • Mixed proteins can cause tummy issues in dogs with sensitivities
  • Pickier pups may refuse to eat the LifeSource Bits

3. Castor & Pollux Pristine

Best Small Breed Wet Dog Food
Castor & Pollux Pristine Canned

A delicious mash of high-quality meat, broth, and produce in petite packs that are perfect for small dogs. 

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About: Serve up a savory dish of muscle meat and nutrient-rich liver with Castor & Pollux Pristine, a wet dog food made with responsibly-sourced ingredients like organic produce. Broth boosts the food’s flavor and your dog’s hydration, while the recipe’s free of grains, potatoes, corn, wheat, and soy, making it a good fit for pups with food limitations.

Features:

  • Meets AAFCO nutrient profile for maintenance 
  • Contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Rich in real fruits and vegetables for natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Made in the USA with internationally sourced ingredients

Options: Available in Chicken, Beef, and Lamb recipes.

Ingredients List

Lamb, Beef Broth, Water Sufficient For Processing, Beef Liver...,

Dried Egg Whites, Organic Spinach, Organic Carrots, Organic Dried Peas, Organic Apples, Guar Gum, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Calcium Carbonate, Xanthan Gum

Pros

  • Taste and texture are wins for most picky pups (including doggos with dental woes!)
  • Responsibly-sourced ingredients are always great to see
  • Contains a nice mix of produce (rare in wet dog foods)

Cons

  • Some pet parents aren’t fans of peas as an ingredient
  • Mixed-protein and grain-free foods aren’t a good fit for every dog
Is Grain-Free Right for Your Dog?

Grain-free dog foods flooded pet food aisles with the rise in boutique offerings, but not every pup needs these protein-rich blends relying on alternative carbohydrate sources of potatoes or legumes.

It’s always a good idea to ask your vet before making significant dietary changes with your dog. This is especially wise if you’re considering grain-free dog food, given their potential link to DCM.

4. Instinct Raw Boost

Best Small Breed Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Instinct Raw Boost

A grain-free kibble with delicious freeze-dried bits of real meat for a punch of flavor and protein.

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About: Spoil your fur baby with Instinct Raw Boost, a high-protein dog food featuring easy-to-eat small kibblets and freeze-dried mini meat morsels. The mixed-protein recipe has a taste dogs love, plus omega-3s for supporting your pup’s skin and coat.  

Features:

  • Doesn’t contain corn, soy, wheat, grain, or potato
  • Probiotics help in canine digestion 
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin aid in joint health
  • Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients

Options: Offered in Beef, Chicken, and Duck recipes. Grain-inclusive recipes are available under the Instinct Be Natural line.

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate)...,

Chickpeas, Tapioca, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Turkey Meal, Herring Meal, Peas, Freeze Dried Chicken, Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Coconut Oil, Salt, Pumpkinseeds, Potassium Chloride, Freeze Dried Chicken Heart, Egg Product, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Montmorillonite Clay, Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Choline Chloride, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Blueberries, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract

Pros

  • Freeze-dried bits are a hit with dogs 
  • Convenient way to offer the taste  of raw without the mess
  • Loaded with extras like glucosamine, chondroitin, and probiotics

Cons

  • Price is on the high side
  • Not every dog tolerates grain-free or mixed-protein food

5. Nom Nom

Best Small Breed Dog Food for Picky Dogs
Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food
A meat-forward food with chunks of real meat and produce that finicky floofs can’t resist.
Special Discount: New customers can get 50% off!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

About: Wow your persnickety pupperino with Nom Nom, a delicious fresh-frozen food that’s delivered right to your door. Input your dog’s information, like her weight, activity level, and age, and NomNom customizes her meals to help her maintain a healthy weight while feeling satisfied.

Features:

  • Meat is always the first ingredient
  • All recipes formulated by in-house, board-certified veterinary nutritionists
  • Prepared using gentle cooking methods that protect nutrients, flavor, and color
  • Made in the USA in NomNom kitchens

Options: Available in Beef Mash, Chicken Cuisine, Pork Potluck, and Turkey Fare. You can also add on a probiotic blend for digestive support.

Ingredients List

Ground Turkey, Brown Rice, Eggs, Carrots, Spinach, Dicalcium Phosphate...,

Citric Acid, Vinegar, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Water Sufficient For Processing, Fish Oil, Choline Bitartrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Natural Flavor, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Gluconate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Cholecalciferol (Source Of Vitamin D3), Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement

Pros

  • Flavor and texture knock it out of the park for picky pups
  • Customized quality is a win with pets and pawrents alike
  • Solid mix of protein options to choose from

Cons

  • As a customized fresh food, it’s expensive
  • Requires refrigerator or freezer space
Interested in more information about NomNom and other fresh options?

Read our head-to-head matchup of NomNom, Ollie, and Farmer’s Dog. We dive into the details, covering everything from who formulates each recipe to pricing, giving you all the information you need to decide which option would work best for you and your doggo.

6. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult

Most Affordable Food for Small Breed Dogs
Diamond Naturals (Small Breed Adult)

A small-breed kibble containing extras like prebiotics and probiotics at a wallet-friendly price point.

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About: Feeding your little lovebug doesn’t have to cost a kidney with Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult, a dry dog food made with the barkin’ basics like meat and grains and awesome extras like prebiotics and probiotics for less. Rounding things out is a balanced mix of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat.

Features:

  • Real meat is always the primary ingredient
  • Variety of fruits and vegetables supply vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Small, round kibblets are easy for small dogs to scarf down
  • Made in the USA with international ingredients

Options: Available in Chicken & Rice, Lamb & Rice, and Puppy.

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice...,

Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Egg Product, Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, L-Carnitine, 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, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid

Pros

  • Reasonable price tag, considering the quality and extras
  • Features a bounty of fruits and vegetables
  • Several pet parents report their pups’ coats got shinier after switching to the food

Cons

  • Some dogs aren’t fans of the taste
  • More protein options are needed for dogs who can’t have or dislike chicken and lamb

7. Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy

Best Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies
Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy

A grain-inclusive kibble for small breed dogs with brain-boosting fatty acids and a scrumptious mix of proteins.

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About: Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy meets the needs of baby barkers with premium proteins and grains for energy, plus natural sources of DHA for brain and eye development. Spinach and berries offer antibiotics for immune health, while calcium and phosphorus aid in bone and muscle growth.  

Features:

  • Deboned turkey is the first ingredient
  • Made without meat by-products or artificial preservatives
  • Balanced mix of probiotics support healthy puppy digestion 
  • Made in the USA with global ingredients

Options: Available in a single poultry-based recipe.

Ingredients List

Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Salmon Meal, Barley...,

Ground Brown Rice, Oats, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), 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 added to preserve freshness, 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 (Vitamin C), 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

  • Crafted with small puppies in mind with the perfect kibblet size for miniature mutts
  • Natural sources of DHA aid in brain and eye development
  • Most puppies are fans of the flavor 

Cons

  • On the pricier side
  • Need more protein options for dogs with sensitivities 

8. Wellness Complete Small Breed Senior

Best Dog Food for Small Breed Seniors
Wellness Complete Small Breed Senior

A dry kibble made with petite crunchy kibblets and joint support for mature mutts of small stature.

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About: Help your wise old woofer live her best life with Wellness Complete Small Breed Senior, a grain-inclusive dry option with miniature, triangular bits for easy eats and taurine for heart health. A duo of poultry proteins combines to promote strong muscles and energy, and glucosamine and chondroitin boost your fur baby’s joints.

Features:

  • Formulated by veterinarians and animal nutritionists
  • Omega fatty acids from flaxseed support your sniffer’s skin and coat 
  • Antioxidants give support immune health, a common area of concern in senior pups
  • Made in the USA with global ingredients

Options: Senior comes in a single turkey and chicken recipe.

Ingredients List

Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Peas, Rice, Oats...,

Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed, Tomatoes, Pea Fiber, Natural Chicken Flavor, Carrots, Spinach, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Apples, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, 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, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, 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

  • Formulated with a balanced blend of senior-friendly goodies like glucosamine, chondroitin, and fatty acids
  • Probiotic blend aids in healthy digestion
  • Has a great mix of produce for natural sources of nutrients and fiber

Cons

  • More protein options are needed for pups who can’t have poultry or mixed meats
  • Small bag size means you’ll have to reorder more frequently than would be ideal

9. Fromm Weight Management Gold

Best Weight Management Food for Small Breed Dogs
Fromm Gold Weight Management

A premium, weight-management kibble with lean protein and tons of omega-3s. 

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About: Nourish your itty-bitty buddy and help her shed extra weight with Fromm Gold Weight Management, a tasty kibble made with a blend of meats, satisfying grain, and produce. L-carnitine aids lean muscle development, and prebiotics and probiotics support your doggo’s digestive tract.

Features:

  • Nutrient-dense turkey liver is the top ingredient
  • Real Wisconsin cheese adds an extra oomph of flavor
  • Meets AAFCO standards for adult maintenance 
  • Made in the USA at Fromm-owned facilities 

Options: Available in a turkey-based recipe. A grain-free fish option is also available.

Ingredients List

Turkey Liver, Chicken Meal, Turkey Broth, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley...,

Menhaden Fish Meal, Whole Oats, Dried Tomato Pomace, Whitefish, Whole Barley, Brown Rice, Millet, White Rice, Oat Hulls, Flaxseed, Pea Fiber, Dried Yeast, Salmon Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Egg Product, Potatoes, Salt, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Celery, Cheese, Alfalfa Meal, Vitamins [Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid], Taurine, Chicory Root Extract, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Monosodium Phosphate, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Ferrous Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Magnesium Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Iodate], Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, Dl-Methionine, L-Tryptophan, Sodium Selenite, Dried Lactobacillus Paracasei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Reuteri Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product

Pros

  • Designed to help pups lose or maintain a healthy weight
  • Taste gets a tail wag from most canine consumers (it even includes cheese!)
  • Probiotics support doggy digestion

Cons

  • Pricey compared to other dog foods 
  • Mixed-protein nature doesn’t suit dogs with food restrictions

10. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Small Breed

Best Dog Food for Small Breed Dogs with Food Allergies
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Small Breed

A limited-ingredient dry food for small dogs with dietary restrictions.

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About: Satisfy your pup’s hunger without triggering food sensitivities by giving her Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Small Breed. This growler grub has a focused ingredient list of high-quality goodies like real meat and wholesome grains. Smaller kibblets suit the tiny jaws of little woofers, and omega fatty acids nourish your canine’s coat from the inside out.

Features:

  • All Natural Balance’s Limited Ingredient recipes feature a single protein 
  • Doesn’t include soy, gluten, artificial colors, or flavors
  • Crunchy kibble texture helps keep teeth cleaner
  • Made in the USA using globally sourced ingredients 

Options: Available in Beef & Brown Rice, Lamb & Brown Rice, and Chicken & Brown Rice recipes. Also offered in grain-free options.

Ingredients List

Lamb, Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran, Brewers Dried Yeast...,

Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Salt, Taurine, Dl-Methionine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate), Choline Chloride, Citric Acid (Preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Rosemary Extract

Pros

  • Limited-ingredient recipe designed for delicate systems
  • Single-protein options offer plenty of flavor without surprise meats
  • Pricing isn’t too bad for a limited-ingredient food

Cons

  • Picky canines may need enticing to give it a try
  • Another novel protein option like fish would be ideal

11. Open Farm Grain Free Small Breed

Best Grain-Free Dog Food for Small Breed Dogs
Open Farm Grain-Free (Small Breed)

A small-breed kibble made with humanely-sourced meat, non-GMO produce, and zero grains.

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About: Feed your small but mighty mutt a kibble catered to his dietary needs with Open Farm Grain Free Small Breed, a dry dog food using alternative grain sources like garbanzo beans and sweet potatoes for ongoing energy and satiety. Pumpkin provides prebiotic fiber for digestion, while green-lipped mussel offers joint support.

Features:

  • Real humanely-harvested meat is the first ingredient
  • Earth-conscious, only using locally-sourced meat and non-GMO produce
  • All Open Farm recipes meet the AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages
  • Made in the USA with US- and internationally sourced ingredients

Options: Offered in a single poultry-based grain-free recipe. Also available in a grain-inclusive version.

Ingredients List

100% Animal Welfare Certified Chicken, 100% Animal Welfare Certified Turkey...,

Ocean Menhaden Fish Meal, Herring Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Sweet Potato, Natural Flavor, Coconut Oil, Pumpkin, Flaxseed, Kale, Carrots, Apples, Blueberries, Sunflower Oil, Miscanthus Grass, Cranberries, Chicory Root, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavn Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Selenium Yeast, Calcium Iodate, Dried Kelp, Salt, Green Lipped Mussel, Mixed Tocopherols, Parsley, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Rosemary Extract

Pros

  • Alternative carb sources like garbanzo beans suit sniffers with grain allergies
  • Great option for eco-focused pet parents after a greener pet food manufacturer
  • Meat-rich taste is a win with most woofs

Cons

  • Mixed protein nature may not suit dogs with food sensitivities
  • Pricing is high compared to other kibbles
Want to learn more about Open Farm?

Check out our in-depth review of Open Farm. We’ve done a deep dive into the brand’s history, current food offerings, ingredient sourcing, and more to give you a clearer picture.

What Should You Look for in a Small Breed Dog Food?

how to pick dog food

Despite a market overflowing with options, shopping for the best dog food for your small sniffer is easier than you’d think. Break the process down into bite-sized bits that suit how to choose dog food for any doggo.

The best dog food for your dog:

  • Meets the AAFCO nutrient profile for her life stage: Your dog’s dietary needs change as she matures, whether needing extra DHA as a puppy for brain development or fewer calories and measured nutrients as a senior. Ask your vet if you’re unsure about your pup’s life stage.
  • Addresses any health conditions your dog has: Your floof’s food should support any medical maladies, like dog food or joint health if she has arthritis or dog food for sensitive skin if she’s known to have bouts of dry, flaky skin. 
  • Has your vet’s support: Always consult your vet regarding switching your dog’s food to ensure it suits her nutrient needs, works with her medical concerns, and meshes well with any medication she’s on. This is especially important if your dog has a chronic illness, like diabetes or kidney disease.

Satisfying these three core requirements means you likely have a solid food choice for your small-breed dog. You’ll likely still have options to choose from, too, including whatever protein your pup needs (or likes) and other factors.

Are you stuck between brands or overwhelmed with options? Here are a few more steps of second-tier criteria to check if you’re after the best of the best. 

To narrow things down more, look for a small dog food that uses:

  • A veterinary or canine nutritionist on staff: Board-certified nutritionists know the ins and outs of dog nutrient needs, ensuring your pup’s getting a balanced blend of quality ingredients. This also shows that the pet food manufacturer values nutrition.
  • Proper cooking and pasteurization practices: Foodborne illness is no joke, as eating or handling tainted food can make you and your sniffer seriously sick. Skip raw diets for ones cooked to temperature, and opt for those that safely pasteurize raw bits through freeze-drying if you want the benefits of raw with fewer risks.
  • Western-based manufacturing: Whenever possible, opt for a made-in-the-USA dog food or one from Canada, European Union nations, Australia, or New Zealand. These countries have stricter standards surrounding pet food manufacturing, keeping your dog safer than foods made in other areas.
  • Western-sourced ingredients: As with food manufacturing, look for companies that source ingredients from previously listed countries. Food processing standards are higher in these nations, avoiding potential contamination.

Considering these second-tier requirements ensures you get all-around awesome food for your four-footer. That said, don’t stress your wallet chasing premium food. You can still find high-quality budget-friendly dog food for your smallest supporter.

The Best Small Breed Dog Foods: FAQ

questions about small dog food

Feeding a small floof comes with its share of questions. Let’s sink our teeth into the most frequently asked.

How much food do small dogs need?

Every dog food has its own calorie content, and every dog has individual needs, with active, working pups requiring more calories than couch-potato canines. So, follow the feeding instructions listed on your dog’s food, or consult your vet to be sure. Sometimes, you must adjust your pup’s feedings if she loses or gains weight (though your vet should always investigate unexplained weight changes).

A key difference with small dog feeding is during puppyhood, as small-breed puppies need to eat more frequently than larger pup peers since some are prone to bouts of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Symptoms of hypoglycemia include weakness, lethargy, and seizures. A vet should always address the condition.

Often, small dogs take the picky route, so you may need to entice them with a tasty dog food topper or delicious bonus ingredients. Just keep the extra calories in mind so your pupper doesn’t pork out, as a little bit of excess weight on a small dog can do a lot of damage.

Do small dogs need small kibble?

Yes, small dogs need smaller kibblets to suit their jaw size. Standard kibble is often too large for petite pups to eat safely. This is especially true with toy breeds, like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians.

What is the best food to feed a small dog?

The best food to feed a small dog is one that’s made with bites small enough to eat, is suitable for her life stage, addresses any of her health concerns, and is recommended by her vet. No single product pick fits every small dog, as every canine is unique. Some need limited-ingredient dog food because of sensitivities, while pickier pups may need a flavor bomb food for enticing.

A great fresh option that’s customized is Ollie, while a top-notch choice in kibble is Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult. Remember to take it slow when switching your dog’s food to a new one, as you don’t want to risk digestive upset.

What food do vets recommend for small dogs?

Vets aren’t a one-size-fits-all group. Food that one vet might recommend could be one another vet wouldn’t. What matters is what your vet recommends for your dog, not what the internet vet says or one on television. Your vet knows your dog’s health best and can recommend the healthiest dog food for her needs.

   

Does your petite pup enjoy any of our picks for the best dog foods for small breed dogs? Is there another she goes wild for? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by

Kelsey Leicht

Kelsey is a lover of words and woofs. She worked hands-on with dogs for several years at a boarding kennel as a shift runner and office manager before venturing into the world of writing. She lives in New Jersey with her crew of crazy canines.

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