10 Best Dog Foods For Small Breed Puppies

10 Best Dog Foods For Small Breed Puppies
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Choosing the right food for your dog is important. With so many out there, it can be difficult to know which one to go for. Let us take out the guesswork by reading through our list of the ten best dog foods for small breed puppies.

So, what should you look for in puppy dog food? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know including some feeding top tips and FAQ. And let’s remember that a small dog’s diet is quite different from small breed puppies!

Puppy Feeding Basics

Puppies should live off of their mother’s milk for the first 6-7 weeks of their lives, with the weaning period beginning at 3-4 weeks. During this time, puppies should make a gradual transition to milk replacer mixed with dry food, with the replacer lessening over time to leave just solid food by 8 weeks of age at the most.

Generally, puppies should eat 20g of food per 1kg of their body weight per day. They should also eat 4 small, equally spaced out meals per day during the weaning period, dropping to 3 meals per day at 2-3 months of age, and 2 meals per day from 4-6 months onwards. Then, between 9 and 12 months old, your pup should be ready for adult food!

It’s best to create and stick to a feeding schedule to get your new puppy into a settled routine. Eating affects everything they do; playtime, going to the toilet and going to sleep. So, to make life easier for yourself as a new owner, get into a good routine. It will also help your pup to feel safe and settled. You should establish a clean, designated mealtime area and bowl too.

A dog’s diet should consist of commercial foods containing natural ingredients that are fortified to be nutritionally complete and balanced. Along with high-quality, lean protein sources and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.

feeding frequency of puppies
Puppy nutrition is crucial for developing a foundation for future growth, as well as bone and organ development.

Dog Food For Small Breed Puppies

Whilst there are dog foods that are marketed as suitable for all dogs, some owners prefer to look for products that are tailored towards their dog’s age and size for accurate nutrition.

Dogs need different nutrients depending on their age; puppies need nutrients that support physical growth and development, as well as brain development, adult dogs need key vitamins and minerals to maintain their health, and senior dogs need extra support for their joints, hearts, vision, and cognition.

Nutrient density is important, too. Naturally, different-sized dogs need food containing different nutrient densities to meet the needs of their bodies.

Key nutrients

Key nutrients that promote growth & development in pups include vitamins A for vision, B and E for healthy skin and coat, and K for proper blood clotting. Vitamin D and minerals like calcium are essential for developing bones, and key vitamins and minerals also help to keep your dog’s internal organs working well.

Omega fatty acids are specifically good for heart health, plus healthy skin and coat. Antioxidants from sources like vitamin C and coconut oil are essential for a strong immune system, and amino acids promote healthy growth, development, and healing of the entire body.

All dogs should eat food that is high in good-quality protein sources such as chicken and fish for strong muscles. Their food should also contain good fats and carbohydrates from wholesome ingredients for healthy energy levels and a healthy weight.

Prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes aid digestion and are especially good for pups with sensitive tummies and DHA is essential for brain development.

What To Look For In Your Pup's Food

Some key things to look out for include:

  • 100% nutritiously complete and balanced food
  • Natural ingredients
  • Key nutrients for puppies
  • Tasty foods
  • Slow-cooked and freeze-dried foods
  • Small bites for small mouths
  • Teeth cleaning kibble shape/texture

Things to avoid:

  • Filler ingredients such as grains
  • Common allergens
  • Artificial additives and preservatives
  • Chemicals and synthetics
  • GMOs

Other things you may also want to consider:

Top Tips

If your pup is anxious to eat at first, encourage them by feeding them out of your hand first, or just start off with a small quantity in their bowl. Praise them after eating, and try sitting nearby during mealtimes to build trust and discourage resource guarding behaviors. Make sure you say the word you want to associate with their mealtimes so that they can learn it as well.

To keep things interesting and avoid boredom, always buy your pup foods containing high-quality, tasty, natural ingredients and try to vary their meals. If you’ve found a wet or dry food that they like, try a different flavor by the same brand and alternate between them every month or two. Or, if they like a particular flavor, try a similar one from a different brand.

Try varying the texture, too. Alternate between dry and wet meals by trying out different products by the brand you like, or adding warm water to dry food. You could also try changing up their protein source and adding different vegetables. For example, give them chicken and carrots on weekdays and fish with cucumber on the weekends.

needed nutrition in puppy food
Growing pups should be fed puppy food, a diet specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs for normal development.

10 Best Dog Food For Small Breed Puppies

1. Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free

Merrick’s puppy food for small dogs comes in bags of 4lbs and 12lbs. It’s flavored with real chicken, (the number one ingredient), sweet potato, and has zero grains. It contains essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, plus Omega-3 & 6s for healthy skin and coat.

The food also has probiotics and prebiotic fibers for healthy digestion, glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support, DHA for brain development, plenty of protein (80% from animal sources), and healthy fats for strong muscles, healthy weight, and high energy levels.

The kibble pieces themselves are small for puppy mouths and shaped in a way that scrapes off bacteria and keeps teeth clean. All of the brand’s products are cooked in their own USA facility that complies with strict FDA guidelines and reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

2. Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Small Dog Wet Food

Another product by Merrick, this delicious wet food option uses plenty of the same great, healthy ingredients, all made in that same high-standard facility. They also come in boxes of 12 easy to open “plates” that contain real deboned chicken with high levels of omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.

It’s formulated to be nutritionally complete and balanced, with added prebiotics, probiotics, and essential minerals to aid healthy digestion. Reviews are also highly complementary, with several buyers saying how great the portion sizes are.

3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural

Blue Buffalo’s chicken and oatmeal flavor food for puppies contains real chicken, garden veggies, wholesome oatmeal. It is fortified with LifeSource Bits; a special blend of essential vitamins and minerals chosen by vets and animal nutritionists, with antioxidants to support a strong immune system and developing bones.

It also contains DHA & ARA to support renal function, vision, and cognitive development. The small bites are perfect for puppy mouths, and the shape and texture of the kibble bits themselves scrape off plaque and tartar from the teeth, promoting good dental health.

It is also made in the USA and available to buy in 6lb and 15lb bags. It’s free from meat by-products, wheat, corn, soy, artificial additives, and reviews call the food great value for money.

4. Wellness Complete Health Natural

Wellness’ dry dog food for small breed pups comes in 4lb and 12lb bags. It provides complete and balanced nutrition that is specifically tailored to pups of smaller breeds and promotes complete health. The food supports skin, coat, digestive, eye, and oral health, whilst boosting the energy and immune system.

Its main ingredients are turkey, oatmeal, and salmon meal. With DHA for brain development, high-quality proteins, fats, carbs, and calcium and prosperous for bone and muscle development.

This crunchy kibble also contains no by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives and is made in the USA. It’s an Amazon’s Choice product and reviews are highly complementary.

5. Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

Another Amazon’s Choice product, Purina‘s dry food for small breed puppies is available in 5, 6, and 18lb bags. It’s chicken and rice flavor and contains vitamin A, Omega-6 fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants, and DHA. It’s also high in protein to meet the needs of highly active dogs, and chicken is the first ingredient.

The food is made in the USA and there is a buying option for toy breeds, too. It’s also fortified with guaranteed live probiotics for digestive health and has hardly any negative reviews.

6. Eukanuba Puppy Small Breed Kibble

This chicken flavor food by Eukanuba provides complete and balanced nutrition for small youngsters. It comes in bags of 14.9 lbs and chicken is the very first listed ingredient. It supports all aspects of your pup’s growth, as well as gut health and a strong immune system. The food contains DHA for cognitive development, high-quality protein, plus calcium and phosphorous for skeletal and muscular support. It also contains concentrated energy from fat and carbohydrates to promote healthy, sustainable energy levels and a healthy weight.

It is an Amazon’s Choice product and reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with buyers saying it even works well for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

7. CANIDAE Petite Small Breed Raw

Canidae’s food for small pups uses 8 key, recognizable ingredients. It contains a single protein source; salmon, which is super tasty, and plenty of Omega-3 & 6 fatty acids to encourage a beautiful coat and healthy skin. It also has antioxidants for a strong immune system and probiotics for gut health.

The food has been cooked using a freeze-drying process. This retains all of the taste and nutrients, and the raw coating makes it even healthier and tastier. It comes in 4lb and 10lb bags and is totally free from grains like wheat and corn. It’s also an Amazon’s Choice product and reviews highly recommend it.

8. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy High-Protein Dog Food

This chicken and rice food by Diamond Naturals contain complete nutrition for puppies and all-natural ingredients like cage-free chicken. It has an optimal amino acid profile for lean, strong muscles, which is great for hyperactive pups.

It also contains fruit and veggie superfoods, added vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, DHA, and antioxidants. The food is free from fillers and artificial additives, too.

The brand is a family-owned business that makes its products in the USA following scientifically advanced safety protocols. It’s an Amazon’s Choice product and reviews are very complimentary.

9. Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy Recipe

Now Fresh‘s dry food for pups contains 100% fresh turkey, salmon, and duck, with fresh omega 3 & 6 oils from coconuts and canola. It also has wholesome berries, fruits, and veggies such as peas, spinach, cranberries, pumpkin, blackberries, alfalfa sprouts, kelp, lentils, and carrots. Plus, DHA and EPA for brain development added pre and probiotics, and antioxidants from coconut oil for a strong immune system.

It is free from grains, gluten, wheat, beef, corn, soy, rendered meats, by-products, and artificial preservatives, making it ideal for dogs with allergies and sensitivities. Reviews also love the product and buyers say it works well with even the fussiest of eaters.

10. Bil-Jac Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

Bil-Jac’s 6lb bag of food contains 5lbs of fresh chicken, plus wholesome oatmeal, and tasty yams. It also contains vital nutrients for your pup’s first year, immune system support, all in easy-to-eat pellets. It’s free from fillers and is slow-cooked to preserve nutrients and taste.

It’s also made in the USA. The brand has been making high-quality, trustworthy products since 1947 and this food is no exception. Reviews can’t rate it highly enough, with several buyers praising the quality of the ingredients and some even saying it’s the best product of its kind that they have tried.

nutrients in adult dog food
Adult dog food has a more controlled nutrient value compared to puppy dog food.

Top Small Breed Puppy Food: FAQ

Feel free to check out our FAQ for more details.

When should puppies start eating solid food?

Puppies should begin to be weaned from their mother’s milk aged 3-4 weeks. During this time, you should make the gradual transition to milk replacer and solid food, and gradually lessen the milk replacer until they are eating only solid food by 8 weeks of age at the latest.

How much should puppies eat?

Generally, puppies should eat 20g of food per 1kg of their body weight per day. They should also eat 4 small, equally spaced out meals per day during the weaning process, dropping down to 3 meals per day at 2-3 months of age, and 2 meals per day from 4-6 months onwards.

What nutrients do puppies need?

Key vitamins to look out for include A, B, C, D, E, and K. These look after your pup’s eyesight, coat, skin, blood, and more. DHA is essential for brain development and antioxidants help to build a strong immune system. Minerals like calcium are essential for developing bones and probiotics promote healthy digestion.

Omega fatty acids support heart, skin, and coat health, and amino acids promote healthy growth, development, and healing of the entire body.

How to feed a puppy?

To feed your puppy, establish a mealtime area in your home and stick to a regular feeding schedule to get them settled into a daily routine. If they are anxious or unsure about the food you give them at first, encourage them to eat by feeding them out of your hand, or just start off with a smaller quantity in their bowl and add more as they eat to increase their appetite.

What is the best kind of food for dogs?

There are many brands and foods out there for dogs, some of them are great, and some of them are not. There is no universal best food, but things that you should look out for include 100% complete and balanced nutrition, natural, high-quality, tasty ingredients, and key nutrients for dogs of your pet’s age, size, and activity level. You should also look for foods that cater to any individual needs your dog may have, and well-cooked foods to preserve taste and nutrients.

Consider buying from brands that are trusted worldwide and recommended by vets, products that are formulated by vets, approved by official bodies like the FDA, and that comes with high ratings and good reviews online. You can also look for products containing ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients if that is of importance to you.

What should you avoid in dog food?

When looking for dog food for your pup, avoid so-called filler ingredients such as wheat and common allergens like soy, especially if your pup is sensitive. These ingredients are actually bad for dogs and hard for them to digest.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but many commercial dog foods contain them because they are cheaper to manufacture than healthy, wholesome ingredients. They may not have an apparent effect on some dogs, but over time, they won’t be as healthy or live as long as they could. You should also avoid artificial additives and preservatives, chemicals and synthetics, and GMOs.

How to stop your dog from getting bored with their food?

To keep mealtimes interesting and prevent boredom and picky eating, always buy your dog high-quality, tasty, natural foods and try to vary their meals. If you’ve found a commercial food that they like, try a different flavor by the same brand and swap them around every month or two. Or, if they like a particular flavor, try a similar one from a different brand. Try varying the texture of their meals, changing up their protein source, and adding different vegetables, as well.

Those are the ten best dog foods for small breed puppies. Will you be trying out one of our recommendations or have one of your own to tell us about? Let us know in the comments down below!