Best Dog Food for Small Dogs

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Small dog owners usually admit that their dogs’ are picky, hyperactive, and would rather eat from their plates than their dog bowls.

If you’re in the same boat, know that you’re not alone. And now you can rejoice because we chose the best dog food for small dogs — picky eater approved! 

Our ultimate pick is Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed dry dog food

Not only is this a high-protein formula for healthy and lean muscles — it doesn’t include any filler ingredients. So you’ll be offering your dog the best of the best. 

And, we’ve got puppy formula picks and options for small breeds that can’t have certain ingredients. 

Our Best Dog Food for Small Dogs

  1. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dry Dog Food (Best Overall)
  2. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Toy Breed Formula Dry Dog Food (Best for Puppies)
  3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Dry Dog Food (Best for Seniors)
  4. Merrick Grain-Free Grammy’s Pot Pie Canned Food (Best Wet Food)
  5. ORIJEN Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best Grain-Free Food)
  6. Nutro Natural Choice Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Food)
  7. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Dry Dog Food (Best Premium Food)
  8. Ollie Dog Food (Best for Picky Eaters)
  9. CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food (Best for Weight Gain)
  10. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Food (Best for Allergies) 

10 Best Dog Food for Small Dogs Reviewed 

These dog foods follow the AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your dog to a new food, please consult with your veterinarian. 


Best for Adults

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed
  • First 5 Ingredients: Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 422 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein grain-free dry dog food with small kibble for tiny dogs

Small adult dogs need the proper nutrition to keep them going and healthy until their golden years.

Because small breeds age slower than large dogs, they will be eating adult food for over seven years! So it needs to be delicious, nutritious, and easy to eat for that long. 

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed dry dog food is the perfect solution. It starts with tasty novel proteins like venison, lamb meal, and menhaden fish meal.

Not only is venison a lean meat, but it’s popular amongst wolves — dogs close kin. So if a wolf enjoys it, you can bet that your pup will too. 

These animal proteins also provide essential amino acids for strong muscles and healthy joints. And ocean fish meal offers omega-3 fatty acids for your dog’s skin and brain function. 

For extra fats, canola oil supplies digestive enzymes for digestion and immune support. Garbanzo beans and lentils replace grains as easy-to-digest carbohydrates. And, they offer vitamins like vitamin C for an immunity boost. 

K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics help reduce inflammation, aid in gut health, and include a natural source of antioxidants for skin support.

Taste of the Wild is made right in the US. It’s free of grains, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, or artificial colors. Since this is a small breed formula, the kibble is made smaller, so it’s easier to chew. 

Dog parents enjoy the real animal protein in this food. And many say that they noticed a positive difference in their dogs’ skin and coat health after switching. 


Best for Puppies

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Toy Breed Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Toy Breed Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Rice, Poultry By-Product Meal, Beef Fat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 34% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 533 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein dry puppy food with DHA for brain development

Ah, puppies — so cute and little. But even though they’re tiny, they still need plenty of animal protein and calories as they grow. They need the nutrition to develop lean muscles, protect their joints, and give them energy. 

Nourish your growing puppy with Purina Pro Plan Puppy Toy Breed dry puppy food. Formulated for puppies that will be 10 pounds or less during adulthood, it has everything they need for a well-balanced diet. 

And it includes plenty of ingredients to support their physical and mental health, keeping them in tip-top shape from the inside out. 

This formula starts with high-quality real deboned chicken as the first ingredient. It provides essential acid building blocks that aid muscle growth and joint health. 

Omega-3 rich fish oil and beef fat provide a natural source of DHA. This helps nourish your pup’s skin — and aids in cognitive function. 

This recipe has bite-sized pieces of crunchy kibble to make chewing easier for your toy breed puppy. And it’s also fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to get their digestion on the right track. 

Puppy parents admit that this food can cause weight gain if you don’t measure it correctly. But, many love how it keeps their puppies active and regular. 


Best for Seniors

Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 15.5% Crude Protein, 10.5% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 353 kcal/8-oz cup
  • Key Feature: Dry dog food with omega-6 acids and fiber to support senior dogs 

Once your small breed reaches seniorhood (at around seven or eight), you’ll want to switch them to a formula that can offer them more support. 

This includes having healthy fats, fewer calories, and omega fatty acids to boost metabolism and support aging joints. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites is an easy switch and is perfect for small breeds. 

This senior dog food has chicken meal as the first ingredient. It supplies omega-6 fatty acids to boost brain function and glucosamine for supply joints. 

And, since chicken is naturally lower in calories, it offers leaner meat that won’t make your senior gain weight. And, chicken liver brings in extra flavor and iron for an energy boost. 

Cracked pearled barley, whole grain wheat, and whole grain oats provide easy-to-digest fiber to aid in digestion. These aid in easier digestion and keep your dog regular. 

Most senior food dogs have a higher fiber count. Since this one is about the same as adult dog foods, be sure to check your dog’s regularity. If you notice that it’s slowing, or if they have constipation, feel free to switch the food or talk to your vet about how to help.

Apples, cranberries, and carrots offer plenty of antioxidants for immune support. But, they also add extra vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin C for brain and eye support. 

This formula also has chelated vitamins and minerals like taurine and lysine for metabolic support and heart health. 

Your dog’s diet doesn’t need any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives — so they don’t include them in this recipe. 

Dog moms and dads love the smaller kibble size and say it makes it easy for their senior dogs to chew.


Best Wet Food

Merrick Grain-Free Grammy’s Pot Pie Canned Food

Merrick Grain Free Wet Dog Food Grammy's Pot Pie
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Potatoes, Carrots, Apples
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 8% Crude Protein, 4% Crude Fat, 1.8% Crude Fiber, 82% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 383 kcal/12.7-oz can
  • Key Feature: Small-breed friendly wet dog food with glucosamine for healthy joints

Got a picky eater? Small dogs are notorious for being finicky about the food they put in their mouths. But, no dog can overcome the temptation of food that reminds them of table scraps.

If your dog’s teeth are being brushed and taken care of to avoid dental issues, wet food can be a good addition to their diet. And that’s where Merrick’s Grain-Free Grammy’s Pot Pie wet dog food comes in. 

First, this formula starts with real USDA-inspected deboned chicken. It provides about 38% Crude Protein (on a dry matter basis) — and chondroitin for healthy joints and itch-free skin. 

Instead of grains, potatoes and peas provide fiber, prebiotics, and vitamins for the digestive tract and heart support. Flaxseed oil and flaxseeds offer natural probiotics and omega fatty acids for gut health. 

Chicken broth and potato starch create a thick and hearty gravy that will entice even the pickiest of dogs. And chicken broth also adds extra B vitamins for energy. 

Even though this food is comforting and delicious, it’s also limited in ingredients, which can benefit dogs who may have food intolerances. It’s made in Hereford, TX. This formula doesn’t include artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or by-products. 

You can use this canned food by itself or top your dog’s dry kibble with it. Just remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how much to feed your pup. 

Some pet owners say that this is more “pate” style, but you can warm up the food a bit to get a more gravy-like consistency. However, many note that their dogs gobble it up, even their fussiest eater. 


Best Grain-Free Food

ORIJEN Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ORIJEN Small Breed Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Quail, Whole Blue Whiting
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 473 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Grain-free dry dog food with fresh and raw animal protein

Looking to get your pup some top-quality dog food without the grains? Orijen’s Small Breed Grain-Free formula is a great option.

It’s high-protein and made with fresh and raw animal proteins — as well as human-grade fruits and vegetables. 

This dry dog food starts with raw free-run turkey, chicken, and quail. And Orijen uses a “whole-prey” process — using the livers, hearts, gizzards, and bones of the animal proteins that they use. These ingredients provide extra iron, protein, and taurine for dogs of all sizes.  

This formula includes eggs and dehydrated raw meats like mackerel and chicken liver. This gives the food more flavor and a boost of protein to keep your pup energized all day long. 

Pinto beans, whole green lentils, and whole navy beans provide low glycemic carbohydrates for digestive health. And, they boast a high percentage of essential vitamins like manganese — which is known to regulate your dog’s metabolism. 

This recipe is grain-free and gluten-free. It doesn’t contain any corn, wheat, or soy. It’s also free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. And bonus points, it’s manufactured in the US with ingredients from trusted farmers and fishers. 

Owners say Orijen is perfect for picky eaters, and they love how it includes raw dusted kibble for their spoiled pups. 


Best Budget Food

Nutro Natural Choice Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutro Natural Choice Adult Chicken Brown Rice
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Whole Grain Barley
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 343 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Wallet-friendly dry dog food with chelated vitamins for a healthy immune system 

You don’t have to destroy your budget just to feed your dog. Luckily, small dogs don’t need as much food as their larger counterparts.

But, if you want premium ingredients, it can be hard to get high-quality for an affordable price. However, Nutro Natural Choice Adult dry dog food changes that. 

This kibble for adult dogs is designed to provide both nutrition and flavor. It starts with real chicken for a high-quality protein source.

And it includes a natural source of taurine, glucosamine, and chondroitin. These amino acids aid in muscle recovery, joint health, and nerve growth. 

Chicken fat and chia seeds offer essential fatty acids to support lush skin and a healthy coat. Chia seeds also provide soluble fiber for gut health and easier digestion. 

Antioxidants from dried pumpkin, dried kale, and dried spinach support immunity and aid in cognitive function. 

This formula is made with non-GMO ingredients, including the brown rice! It doesn’t include any chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy. It’s excellent for all breeds, but your dog should be at least one year old since it’s an adult formula. 

Dog moms and dads say this food is great for picky eaters and pups with digestion issues due to its high fiber content. 


Best Premium Food

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Dry Dog Food

Wellness Core Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food Turkey
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Peas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 36% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 412 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Premium grain-free dry dog food with sustainable fish oil for healthy joints

Don’t have a budget in mind for your dog’s food? How about going premium? Wellness CORE Small Breed dry dog food is a high-quality and grain-free formula perfect for small dogs under 50 pounds.

It has a smaller kibble size for their tiny jaws, but all of the flavor and nutrition as regular dog food. 

It starts with deboned turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal. These poultry proteins provide a natural source of glucosamine for supple and flexible joints. And they also have choline and potassium for strong bones. 

Salmon oil and chicken fat provide omega fatty acids to keep your dog’s coat shed-free and shiny.

They also contain DHA and EPA for brain function and eye health. And, the salmon oil is sustainably sourced, keeping the fish population safe and replenished. 

For a boost of antioxidants, spinach, broccoli, carrots, and blueberries are included. These are also packed full of vitamins — like vitamin A and vitamin C — maintaining cartilage, bones, and teeth. 

Wellness Core doesn’t contain meat by-products, grain, corn, soy, or wheat. It’s also free of artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.

Small breed pet moms and dads say that this is the only food their dogs’ will eat. And, many recommend it as a “training treat” if your pup isn’t usually food motivated. 


Best for Picky Eaters

Ollie Beef Dog Food

Ollie beef
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Carrot
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 9% Crude Protein,7% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 70% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 1540 kcal/kg
  • Key Feature: Human-grade and customized fresh dog food delivered right to your door

Just like you want to eat food that fuels you and provides you with all the nutrition you need, your dog needs that too.

And one of the easiest ways to do this is by feeding them a human-grade diet with fresh ingredients. But don’t worry about the hassle of making your own food. Try Ollie instead! 

First, all of their ingredients are sourced right in the US. And, the food is made in Ollie’s New Jersey human-grade kitchen.

For example, their beef recipe starts with real beef — followed by fresh peas, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. Then, these ingredients are gently cooked to remove harmful pathogens to help your dog avoid unhealthy gut bacteria. 

To start your deliveries, you’ll need to take Ollie’s online quiz. They’ll ask about your dog’s weight, height, age, allergies, and activity level — as well as a few other questions. But don’t worry, the quiz takes less than five minutes. 

From there, they will calculate the perfect diet for your pup. While you can choose the beef recipe, there are three other options: lamb, chicken, and turkey. Or you can select a combination of all four! 

Ollie will then ship your dog’s food fresh every two weeks. It is that simple. 

Dog owners say switching to this food is the best thing they ever did for their dogs. They love that the food is so fresh that even they could eat it (although we suggest you don’t!). 


Best for Weight Gain

CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Grain-Free Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Lentils, Tapioca
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 525 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-fat and high-calorie dry dog food with probiotics for gut health

Did you know that small dogs need more calories per cup of food? This is because their little bodies burn so much energy.  And, if they don’t get enough fuel, they can lose weight, develop hypoglycemia, and be lethargic. 

With CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult dog food, you can offer your pup a high-calorie and fat diet with top-quality ingredients.

Plus, this formula is grain-free and crafted with just eight ingredients, so it’s great for dogs with grain and gluten sensitivities. 

It starts with chicken, chicken meal, and freeze-dried chicken bits. These provide chondroitin for healthy muscle mass and weight gain. Plus, the freeze-dried chicken also offers extra flavor and probiotics for easy digestion. 

Garbanzo beans and lentils replace the grains and gluten from traditional kibble recipes. They provide plenty of fiber and prebiotics for digestive health and vitamins like selenium for metabolic support. 

CANIDAE PURE is made without corn, wheat, or soy. It’s also free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. The kibble size is small enough for petite adult dogs under 30 pounds.

Pet parents say this dog food helped them put a few pounds on their thin pups. However, many have noted that the kibble can crumble fast. 


Best for Allergies

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance LID Lamb Brown Rice Formula Small Breed
  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Brown Rice, Lamb Meal, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 23% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 370 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Limited ingredient dry dog food with novel proteins for dogs with allergies

The most common allergens for dogs are proteins like chicken and beef and wheat and soy.  If your canine has sensitivities to any of these or others, the best thing to do is offer them a limited ingredient diet.

With fewer ingredients, there is less of a chance of an allergic reaction — giving your peace of mind. 

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets has just eight ingredients in their small breed dry dog food. And, they include a single source of protein to avoid potential reactions. 

It starts with the novel protein lamb — both deboned meat and lamb meal. These ingredients provide plenty of protein and glucosamine to lubricate joints and omega fatty acids to reduce potential inflammation. 

It’s important to note that this formula is not grain-free but is gluten-free. It doesn’t include any wheat or wheat by-products but has brown rice. This provides fiber for easier digestion and zinc for immune support. 

Natural Balance L.I.D. is also free of soy, corn, peas, and chicken. And a team of veterinarians and animal nutritionists formulated it specifically for dogs with allergies.

Pet parents say this food has changed their dogs’ lives, and they no longer have reactions like watery eyes or itchy skin. 


maltese dog happy

What To Know About Dog Food for Small Dogs

Small canines need a little more love and attention when it comes to their nutrition. Here’s what to keep an eye on. 

What to Consider When Buying Dog Food for Small Dogs

What should you look for when buying dog food for your small dog? Here’s what to look for.  

High-Quality Ingredients

While all dogs need high-quality ingredients, it’s vital for small dogs. These dainty pups can be extremely picky. But besides that, it’s easy for them to gain weight and be prone to joint and bone issues. 

To keep your loved one healthy, focus on natural animal proteins, healthy fats, and easy-to-digest carbohydrates. And, of course, make sure that the formula you choose has plenty of chelated vitamins. 

Nutritional Content

You’ll also want to ensure that your small dog is getting enough calories. Surprisingly, small breeds need more calories than medium and large breed dogs.

Your pup will need about 30 calories per pound that they weigh! For the average 10-pound dog, that’s 300 calories a day, or about 150 a meal. 

Kibble Size 

Did you know that big kibble can hurt your tiny dog? Not only is it a choking hazard, but it can also cause minor cuts in your pup’s mouth or throat.

A small breed formula eliminates the need to soak or cut food. Instead, they offer a mini kibble to make it super easy for your dog to eat. 

Hypoglycemia in Small Dogs

Small dogs are more likely to have hypoglycemia — also known as low blood sugar. This is due to their higher metabolisms and the need for more calories.

When your dog gets hypoglycemia, they will have symptoms like lethargy, shakes, and weakness in their joints and bones. 

To keep this from happening, you’ll want to feed your pup more often, at least two or three times a day. And, you’ll like to offer them smaller portions more often to keep their energy going all day. 

How Much to Feed a Small Dog 

Your small breed will need at least 30 calories per pound that they weigh. So, if your dog is 15 pounds, they’ll need 450 calories every day.

To avoid hypoglycemia or lethargy, you should also feed them more often, at least twice daily. This would mean that your dog would eat around 225 calories each meal. 

For puppies, you’ll want to feed them at least three or four times a day. And they’ll need the same amount of calories as their adult counterparts. So if your pup is going to be 10 pounds when fully grown, they’ll need 300 calories a day. 

Once your pup reaches about 12 months old, you can switch them to regular adult food. And, once they get to seven or eight years old, you’ll need to give them a senior-friendly formula.

This is also when your dog’s metabolism will finally slow down a bit so that you can offer them 25 calories per pound. 

Our Verdict

From now on, you can offer your pooch a dog food they love and that you feel comfortable feeding them. All of these dog foods were made with your small breed in mind, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. 

My favorite Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed dry dog food

It’s perfect for all small dogs and is an excellent option for balanced nutrition. But, if the other nine options suit your fancy, go for it! They’re all great choices that your pup is going to love. 

FAQ

Want to know more about buying dog food for small dogs? Here are a few common questions and answers! 

What is the best dog food for small breed dogs?

Our favorite is Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed dry dog food. But, all of the options on this list are excellent choices. The key is to find a recipe that you like that will meet the needs of your small canine. 

Can small breed dogs eat bigger kibbles?

That depends. If your dog is more on the “medium” side (around 20 pounds), they may be able to chew larger kibble. However, you may want to moisten it with water or broth. 

However, small breeds under that 20 pounds should never eat bigger bites. They can choke or obstruct their digestive tract. And small breed formulas are made for little dogs and their nutritional needs, so they’re essential.

However, if your kibble is slightly larger, even when made for a small breed, you can always soak the food in a bit of water, or cut it up. 

Which dog food has the smallest kibble?

On our list, the formulas with the smallest kibble are CANIDAE PURE Petite dog food and Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites. Both of these options can be fed to toy breeds under 10 pounds.

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AUTHOR
Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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