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13 Best Dog Foods for Small Dogs

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Monday 29 August 2022
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
best dog foods for small dogs
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Small dogs have higher metabolic rates yet with smaller stomachs. These cute little pups need the best dog food for nutrient-dense small dogs. However, tiny dogs are prone to becoming overweight. Their ideal adult weight is under 20 pounds. Hence, even a pound or two of extra weight can adversely affect their bones, organs, and overall health.

Small dog food is often formulated with higher contents of protein, fat, calories, and other nutrients for balanced nutrition. It would be best to look for pet food that can help improve your pup’s skin and coat. It includes high-quality protein, linoleic acid, and vitamin A.

13 Best Foods for Small Dogs

Choosing the best dog food for a Chihuahua may be a bit different than getting one for a Labrador. You don’t want to make the mistake of feeding your pet the wrong food and putting its health at risk. So, here are 13 of the best and healthy pet foods for tiny pups that they will genuinely enjoy.

1. Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws for Small Breed Dogs

For pups weighing under 25 pounds, this kibble from Hill’s Science is the perfect balanced small dog food for them. It is rich in vitamin E and vitamin C that improves the overall health of canine and their life expectancy. The product has no artificial flavor or preservatives. It has chicken and rice recipe content that will surely be to your pet’s liking.

Hill’s Science is one of the well-known brands for tiny pups since they are easy to digest. Moreover, pooches enjoy this calcium-packed meal without resulting in an upset stomach. Also, it is clinically proven to provide antioxidant benefits to pets. Lastly, it contains Omega-6 fatty acids for a healthier and shinier dog coat.

However, this formula is not grain-free. Nevertheless, this product has a nourishing formula that provides muscle strength, supports the bones, and enhances your dog’s skin and coat. It also contains easily digestible ingredients.


  • Contains antioxidants
  • Rich in vitamins C and E
  • No artificial flavors and colors


  • Can make your dog poop more
  • Some dogs dislike the new formula

2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Little Bites Small Breed Dry Dog Food

If you’re looking for natural ingredients, vitamins, and minerals in pet food, then these little bites are just perfect. Rachael Ray Nutrish has real chickens raised in US Farms as its number one ingredient. It is combined with wholesome grains and vegetables to ensure your little dog’s health condition.

This formula is packed with healthy carbohydrates for the much-needed energy of small pooches. Additionally, it also has natural omegas, cranberries, peas, beets, and carrots. These ingredients make this product fiber-rich, reduce stress, and promote healthy digestion, skin, and coat. And of course, the bite-sized kibble is perfect for your pup’s small mouth and teeth.

There may be some pet owners who will be put off by its ground whole grain corn content. Since corn is a plant-based protein, it doesn’t necessarily contain the amino acid requirements for dogs. However, it is still a reasonable source of protein, energy, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.


  • Contains real chicken
  • Has superfoods
  • Promotes healthy digestion


  • It can be very dry
  • Some dogs do not like the flavor

3. Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed

This food product contains 54% of deboned premium chicken and turkey meat. It has no wheat, soy, corn, artificial flavors, preservatives, or any animal by-products. This Wellness kibble is rich in protein suitable for the high energy level of small pups. Plus, it is 100% grain-free.

It has all-natural ingredients, with Vitamin E, calcium, healthy fatty acids, and Glucosamine, to boost bone health. Moreover, it has salmon oil and flaxseed that help your pet achieve a shiny coat and skin. This small kibble boasts of antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals that your small dog needs.

The only thing you can complain about this product is that it does not come with a resealable bag. But you can quickly resolve this by transferring the food into another container to preserve the freshness of the kibble.


  • Contains salmon oil and flaxseed
  • It has probiotics and antioxidants
  • High in protein


  • It is not resealable
  • Some dogs show allergic reaction

4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed

This recipe is specially formulated for senior small and toy breed dogs. Mature dogs need specific nutrients different from young pups. It has high carbohydrate content, thus making it ideal for inactive canines. The carb contents come from potatoes, peas, and healthy whole grains. Further, it has a dose of glucosamine and chondroitin. These components suit small pups prone to joint problems like Shi Tzus and Dachshunds.

The Blue Buffalo recipe is rich in antioxidants, making it an excellent choice for tiny dogs predisposed to cancer and heart disease. The ingredients start with real meat, whole grains, garden veggies, and fruit. It also contains deboned chicken for the protein needs of senior pooches for muscle maintenance. Further, it has the much-needed calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins.

Since this formula contains brown rice and barley, it is not advisable for dogs with grain allergies. However, it also does not have beef, dairy, or egg. So it is the perfect choice if your pet has an allergic reaction to these ingredients.


  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Promotes healthy bones and joints
  • Contains phosphorus and calcium


  • It is not for dogs with a grain allergy
  • Some dogs do not like the flavor

5. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Small Breed Bites

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This dry food has real salmon as its first ingredient and sweet potatoes for the carbohydrate requirements of small pups. The limited recipe for high-quality carbohydrate sources keeps your dog’s digestive health. It also contains balanced levels of omega-3 and fatty for your pet’s healthy skin and coat. And they never include artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, so you can feel good about feeding your favorite pooch this wholesome diet. Further, it is specially designed for tiny jaws with a crunchy texture to help maintain clean teeth and healthy gums.

The good news is that it is grain-free. It contains no added peas, pea protein, lentils, legumes, corn, wheat, or soy. This formula makes it ideal for tiny pups with allergies. Pet owners can rely on more than 125 years of experience in the pet food industry of Natural Balance. Their products are the results of research and analysis by veterinarians, animal nutritionists, and researchers. Hence, you are sure that you are getting only quality meals for your fur babies.

This recipe contains canola oil, which has been a subject of debate among dog owners. Although canola oil is non-toxic, it is more processed than other types like olive oil. It means that it is more likely to include genetically modified crops. Hence, even if it is safe for your pets, there are other healthier options like fish and coconut oils.


  • Rich in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • It has high-quality carbohydrates
  • Has no artificial flavors and preservatives


  • Not for picky eaters

6. Iams Proactive Health Small Breed Adult Kibble

If your dog loves the taste of chickens, then the Iams Proactive Health will be the perfect meal. Aside from the yummy taste, this pet food delivers the nutrition small dog breeds deserve. It has omega fatty acids to promote healthy coat and skin, and L-carnitine that helps burn fat and stimulates metabolism. Veterinarians recommend this recipe made with real ingredients.

Since this formula comes from chicken and egg, it is an excellent source of protein. It is also rich in antioxidants, which help build the immune system of your pets. All of these benefits, together with fiber and prebiotic contents, develop healthy digestion among tiny pups.

Iams reported on their website that this product did not undergo testing for nutritional value. But, even though they changed its formula, it still has the essential vitamins and minerals small pooches need.


  • It has L-carnitine to help burn fats
  • It has fiber and prebiotic
  • Made with real ingredients


  • It is slightly pricy
  • The kibble is too hard for toy breeds

7. Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health

With this product’s high-quality protein and wholesome grain contents, you can ensure that your little pup will grow up healthy and strong. It is a complete meal containing nutrients that tiny dog breeds need. Further, it contains no meat by-products, fillers, or preservatives. Wellness Natural pet food only uses natural and non-GMO ingredients.

It is rich in antioxidants for a healthy immune system. Also, it has omega fatty acids that maintain your pet’s shiny coat and skin. Moreover, it includes glucosamine, taurine, and probiotics to ensure a healthy heart.

It sources a small portion of the mixed tocopherols and green tea extract from China, which makes some pet owners apprehensive. Nevertheless, it only consists of less than 1% of the total ingredients. All other components come from the US, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, and Chile.


  • All-natural ingredients
  • Has probiotics and antioxidants
  • It is great for tiny dog breeds


  • The shape of the kibble may be unusual for some dogs
  • Not for picky eaters

8. Halo Natural Small Breed Dry Dog Food Recipes

Halo only uses real whole poultry or fish meats. Pet owners are guaranteed that each bag does not contain any type of “meat meal.” It is made of small kibble perfect for little jaws, combined with protein for stronger muscles. The recipe also has fatty acids to take care of your pup’s skin and coat.

This pet food is made of a real whole chicken and not from any rendered meat meal. It contains non-GMO, wholesome sweet potatoes, carrots, cranberries, and blueberries. These fruits and veggies provide the needed antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins for petite pooches. Lastly, your dog will surely love this easy-to-digest meal with its meaty flavor.

Although Halo products are manufactured in the US, they do not own manufacturing facilities. And since they have confidentiality agreements with them, Halo cannot divulge who and where exactly these facilities are. However, it assures dog owners that the ingredients and recipes used by these facilities undergo strict testing and lab analysis.


  • The small-sized kibbles are perfect for small breeds
  • It has wholesome ingredients
  • Free from GMO products


  • Some dogs became gassy
  • Some dogs do not like the new formula

9. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic Dry Dog Food

This pet food from Dr. Gary’s Best Breed is hypoallergenic and ideal for pooches of any age. The unique recipe includes Atlantic salmon which is rich in omega-3. It also has prebiotics for easy absorption and digestion. This meal contains wholesome carrots, celery, beets, spinach, and herbs to boost your pup’s immune system. Additionally, it includes glucosamine and green-lipped sea mussels to support the joint of small dogs.

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed specializes in producing all-natural premium pet foods. It uses only the highest quality ingredients with no animal by-products, fillers, and gluten. Also, the recipe does not contain any artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. Plus, this dog food product is grain-free; thus, ideal for sensitive pets.

Best Breed is a small company based in Ohio and founded in 1994. Some pet parents may prefer larger manufacturers who have been in the industry much longer. However, Best Breed is currently making over a dozen dog and cat foods, supplements, and treats. Also, their product is included on the Whole Dog Journal’s list of approved foods, thus gaining attention from more pet owners.


  • Promotes healthy digestion with the help of probiotics
  • Has no artificial flavors and preservatives
  • Grain-free


  • Not for grain-sensitive dogs

10. Stella & Chewy’s Lil’ SuperBlends Small Breed Meal Mixers

One of the well-known recipe meal mixers is the one from Stella & Chewy. It features raw and freeze-dried meals rich in nutrients for dogs of all ages. Moreover, it includes meat, organs, bones, bananas, organic blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries. Additionally, these components make it an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Its first ingredient is chicken with ground bone, followed by chicken liver and gizzard. Hence, this recipe is delicious for dogs. It also contains dried lactobacillus, calcium carbonate, zinc sulfate, and iron sulfate. This product is also a good source of Vitamin E, Niacin, vitamin D3, Folic Acid, and Vitamin B12. You can feed puppies and pregnant or nursing canines twice the amount you give to adult dogs. It is because young pups and lactating dogs need more nutrients than others.

You might find sharp tiny things in the freeze-dried foods of Stella & Chewy. These are raw ground chicken bones, which are crucial as part of a raw diet. Although these ground bones may feel a bit sharp to a human, a dog’s teeth are designed to process it.


  • It is rich in antioxidants
  • Contains vitamin D3, B12, and E
  • Rich in protein


  • Some dogs do not like the texture of dried fruits
  • Not for picky eaters

11. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild uses farm-raised venison to create a nutritious dog food for small breed dogs. It is made with real meat giving it a high level of protein which helps develop joints, muscles, and bones. It includes vitamins and minerals from superfoods and real fruits.

This dog food also takes care of your dog’s skin and coat with its healthy fats. This grain-free dog food provides enough nutrients and energy to your dog every day. It promotes healthy digestion with the help of prebiotics and antioxidants. Your dog’s immunity and overall wellness are also well addressed.

Furthermore, it contains K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics which are very specific to dogs. It has no corn, wheat, grain, and artificial additives.


  • Has 32% protein from lamb, fish, duck, egg, and venison
  • It has probiotics and prebiotic fiber for digestion
  • Rich in healthy fats


  • It is expensive
  • Some picky dogs would not eat it

12. Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces Dry Dog Food

This dog food is made with nutritious freeze-dried raw chicken making it high in protein. This free-range chicken is rich in protein which helps your dog develop lean muscles. It has a balanced amount of calories, fats, and proteins.

It is also rich in phosphorus and calcium for strong teeth and bones. Additionally, it has chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy hips and joints. With its live and natural probiotics, plus antioxidants, your dog will surely have healthy digestion and immunity.


  • No artificial flavors and additives
  • Has balanced nutrients
  • Promotes healthy weight


  • Some dogs didn’t like the new taste and smell

13. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains provide an all-new pet food experience for your small breed dog. It is made from a real deboned chicken as its first ingredient. It has high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are good for your dog’s coat and skin.

Some small breed dogs are prone to having bone and joint problems. But with the help of glucosamine and chondroitin in this dog food, you can take good care of your dog’s hips and joints. It also includes brown rice and quinoa for good digestion. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals.


  • Has a small kibble size perfect for small teeth
  • Promotes healthy digestion
  • Helps in building lean muscles


  • Not for dogs with a grain allergy
  • It only comes in a small bag
best dog food recommended by vets
Try dog food that are lab tested by specialists.

What are Dog Foods for Small Dogs?

Small dogs are adorable and cute. Kids love to play with them, and you can easily carry them along anywhere. These tiny furballs are also the best companions that are always ready for cuddles when you need them. Hence, taking good care of our small pets is more than just a responsibility and a commitment.

One of the first things they need is food. However, some pet owners tend to give the same type of food to all their pooches, no matter what their size is. You might need to feed tiny pets small kibble puppy food to prevent straining their jaws. There are specific foods for our small canine friends. These dog foods contain enough vitamins, minerals, and proteins to match the energy of your little pups. Aside from these nutrients, these foods must also be tasty, which are perfect for picky eaters.

Your small breed dog is different from its bigger counterparts in many senses, and one of them is the nutritional requirements that your pet needs to thrive. Therefore, foods tailored for small dogs offer the following benefits:

  • Higher density of calories – to bring the energy that the metabolism of your pet needs
  • Tailored macronutrient ratio – to promote muscle recovery/development, regulation of hormones and other key biological processes
  • Special nutrients – to prevent and help to treat common health problems in small breeds
  • Smaller kibble size – to fit their jaws and mouths perfectly

Further, these are manufactured in a way that pups can easily munch and consume. Finally, here is a simple tip if your dog is having a difficult time eating dry pet food. Pour just a small amount of water into the kibble to make it softer. Your small dogs will find it easier to eat that way.

best small dog food
There are several factors to consider when choosing the best dog food for your small dog.

How to Choose Dog Foods for Small Dogs

Several pet owners spend many hours and days looking for the perfect food for their fur baby. It may seem impossible to find the best small breed puppy food that is affordable and won’t upset your pup’s stomach. So how do you select the best dog food for small breed puppies? Here are the things you need to take into consideration when buying pet foods.

Dog’s Age

Young pups need more calories than mature dogs. Older dogs also need less fat. Hence, never give puppy food to senior canines. Also, the pet’s physical characteristics, behavior, and health are essential to know before giving any type of food. Hyperactive dogs will need more calories than languid pups.

Likewise, there is many differences between small breed dog food vs. regular ones. You don’t want to make the mistake of not feeding your tiny pup correctly, which may result in obesity.

Right Ingredients

Reading the labels can save you from deep troubles in the future. Food labels contain ingredients based on weight, especially meats, which are high in water content. Always get the one with a meat meal as the first ingredient on the list. Why? Because dogs are generally omnivores. The exemption only happens when pets have bad allergies they need a vegetarian diet.

On the other hand, stay away from pet food with grain, tuber, or ground corn listed as the first ingredient. Corn generally has low protein, vitamin, and mineral content. Although it is not “bad” for your dog’s health, manufacturers tend to overplay its nutritional value because it’s economical.

Secondly, stay clear from foods that say “animal by-products” on the listings. It means that these came from unidentifiable animalistic sources. So, avoid these products that contain less protein than those made from real meat.

The single most important factor is the nutrients profile because it will let you know if it is high-quality, healthy choice for your dog or not. Therefore, you need to consider the following:

  • Protein must be the first ingredient and it should come from real meat, therefore, discard foods that use by-products as the primary source of protein. Furthermore, the food should contain at least 25% of protein in its total composition
  • Fat content must come from a real animal source, and ideally, it should contain a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In case you opt for a chicken-based dog food, then ensure that it includes enough omega-3 to balance the high content of omega-6
  • Carbs should be mainly complex and filled with nutrients, like sweet potatoes and fruits like blueberries and cranberries
  • The food must contain key vitamins for small dogs, for example, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K and choline
  • Likewise, it should contain important minerals, for example, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc
  • It should be free from problematic ingredients, for example, poultry by-products, unspecified animal by-products (it could be dead zoo animals, road kills, diseased cattle, etc.), fillers such as corn, soy and wheat, and artificial flavoring and coloring

Lastly, always look for the label that says natural ingredients. Original contents, either in the best-wet dog food for small breeds or other types, are suitable for your pup’s health. Hence, always look for high-quality food to ensure that your pet will live a healthy life for years.

Know What is Your Dog Allergic To

It is wise to visit a veterinarian to confirm if your pet is allergic to any food. You must ensure that your dog has a severe allergy before switching its diet to a grain-free one. Grain-free formulated pet food costs more. Hence you will avoid unnecessary spending if you’re sure of your dog’s health status.

Also, don’t get influenced by the hype about buying gluten-free dog food. Your top priority is to give your pet the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.


The food you buy should come with clear instructions regarding the daily amount to feed your dog. After all, if it is tailored for small breed dogs, it should disclose such information clearly on the back of the bag/container. However, to help you nail this aspect because it is essential to keep your dog in a healthy weight, here you have the necessary information condensed in a small table.

Small Dog Food Guidelines
AgePuppy (5-8 lbs.)Adult (12-20 lbs.)Senior (12-20 lbs.)
Caloric Intake (per cup)340-360330-340310-320
Total Caloric Intake (per day)175-280384-640300-500

Our estimations are based on age. The food you buy should bring you clear instructions, and as always, you can consult with your veterinarian. Evidently, we have also brought you information about the daily caloric intake based on weight. Furthermore, to determine the daily caloric intake, we have used the following formula:

  • Puppy: 35 x lbs.
  • Adult: 32 x lbs.
  • Senior: 25 x lbs.

Kibble Size

Tiny pups have naturally small jaws. It will be quite challenging for them to eat large kibble, even if it is the best dog food you can find. Giving your pet an inappropriately sized meal can fracture its jaw. Smaller kibble will be a lot easier for little pups to chew.

Also, it would help if you choose pet foods that are specifically for small breeds. This type of food contains more calories, which are perfect for your small pup’s high metabolism. Further, the best dog food for toy breeds has smaller kibble, which is ideal for your fur baby’s little mouth. Just remember to follow the directions on the food package to know the right amount to give your pooch.

Small: 7-8 mm in diameter
Medium: 11-12 mm in diameter
Big: 15-16 mm in diameter

kibble size for small dogs
Give your pet appropriately-sized kibble.

Dog Foods for Small Dogs – FAQ

Giving the proper food to our pets is no simple task, especially if you need the best dog food for small dogs with allergies. And to answer some of your questions in mind, continue reading below.

What is the best dog food recommended by vets?

Veterinarians recommend high-quality commercial pet foods that underwent laborious testing by specialists. Many people feed their pets with dry kibble or canned wet meals. These foods contain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that our fur babies need for staying healthy.

Aside from meat products, dogs can also get their needed nutrients from grains, fruits, and vegetables. These non-meat foods are also a good source of fiber and vitamins. Most veterinarians highly recommend a pet cuisine that has meat, vegetables, fruits, and grains appropriate to a dog’s digestive system. Aside from all of these factors, your dog must like its taste. This factor is crucial, most notably to puppies that are choosy.

Note that puppies and adult dogs need a different amounts of daily food. It will also depend on the age, size, breed, and health of your pup. Hence, to ensure that you’re giving the right amount of nutrients, always check product labels and consult with your veterinarian.

What is the healthiest dog food for dogs?

So how do you select the healthiest one among hundreds, if not thousands, of choices? Always look for a product that is appropriate to the size, age, and breed of your dog. It will also help to select one made from locally sourced ingredients. See the label to ensure that it contains the appropriate amount of protein, carbohydrates, and minerals needed by your pup. And lastly, never take the flavors for granted.

You might have already seen many reviews and blogs on pet food products. But, instead of helping you decide, you get more confused with all the profiles and ingredients laid down before you. Different manufactured foods have various components and nutritional profiles.
Some of the trusted brands when it comes to pet foods are Hill’s Science, Blue Buffalo, Wellness, and Iams, just to name a few.

What are the ten best dog foods for small dogs?

Not all foods for canines are created equal, and determining which is the best is not that easy. While there are high-quality brands that use the best ingredients, there are those that use fillers to cut costs. Thus, if you want to find the best quality pet food, you need to go for trusted brands. Some brands that offer the best food for pups are as follows:

1. Blue Buffalo for wet food
2. Wellness for mature or senior dogs
3. Hill’s Science for adult canines
4. Rachael Ray Nutrish for dry food
5. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed for hypoallergenic meal
6. Natural Balance for grain-free kibble
7. Iams for vet-recommended food
8. Halo for non-GMO vegetable kibble
9. Stella & Chewy’s for raw meat toppers
10. Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets for freeze-dried food

Other reliable brands are Orijen, Taste of the Wild, Purina, and Nature’s Logic, to name a few.

What should small dogs eat?

It is prudent to give small pups appropriately-sized foods. It helps prevent any untoward accident, like jawbone fracture, on your furball. Secondly, small dog breeds can burn energy a lot quicker; thus, they need more proteins and calories in their diet.

There are specific meals for young pups to ensure that they receive the right amount of nutrition. It ensures that their bones will develop accordingly and that they will grow healthy. Also, be careful not to overfeed your small dog.

Thirdly, it is advisable to stick with a single variety of completely balanced pet food. Never add supplements that are not recommended by the vet. Additionally, do not suddenly alter your pet’s diet. If you want to change to another type of dog meal, do it gradually. It will help if you do it in a span of seven to ten days to avoid stomach upset.

what should small dogs eat
Choose the right size of food for your tiny dog.

Small breed dogs are popular among families, especially those with children. These little furballs do not take so much space at home and are very easy to carry along. But, feeding tiny pups needs more than just going after name brands. You must consider their size, age, health conditions, lifestyle, and breed. The nutritional needs of small dogs are very much different from those of bigger pooches. Therefore, pet parents of tiny pooches must carefully consider and select the best dog food for small dogs.

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