Everything is cuter in miniature size, so when the idea of getting a dog comes to mind, most people tend to lean toward breeds that are smaller than average.
What many new or prospective owners may not be aware of are that small dogs require twice the amount of food in comparison to large breed dogs in order to maintain a healthy weight and daily calorie intake. Small breeds should be fed about 1/2 cup twice daily per every 20lbs of dog weight while bigger dog breeds can get by on just 3/4 worth of a cup once a day for every 40lbs. This is because small dogs’ metabolisms run at a much faster rate than their larger counterparts and therefore they need more energy for daily activities.
Smaller dogs can be more selective about the types of foods they will eat and if their requirements aren’t met and they proceed to go hungry, offering small kibble instead of a meal is often enough for them to return and finish it. Larger breeds, on the other hand typically need to feel full or they tend not to want any more food until the next scheduled meal time which makes free-feeding ideal for those who don’t have as much time as others during the day for preparing meals.
Tiny dogs generally require around 30 calories per pound of bodyweight which means that smaller breeds only need half a cup – 1/2 – 1/3rd – depending on age, weight, and level – of high-quality dry food per day and twice as much water. The smaller the breed, the less food, and more water they will need. A 5lb dog requires about 120-150 calories per day while a 30lb adult dog needs about 500-600 calories daily.
Small dogs such as Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Dachshunds, Miniature Pinschers, and Terriers can be fed most types of dry kibble that is specifically designed for small breeds but just like with all other foods, it’s best to read the ingredients label before buying to ensure that you’re not accidentally buying something bad for your pet who has allergies or dietary sensitivities and intolerances. Puppies and seniors may require special formulations so always check with your vet for his recommendations.
Smaller dogs typically eat more frequently than larger breeds and since they burn through the energy they need faster, it is often recommended that owners feed their furry friend about four (4) times daily to avoid overeating and obesity issues.
Small breed dog food, like other types of kibble, should contain a high level of protein – 20-25% – and not be overly dry or overly moist to prevent tartar buildup and plaque formation on the teeth.
High-quality canned food or homemade cooked meals can also provide smaller breeds with the nourishment they require as long as it’s balanced properly for all of their dietary requirements. It’s important both in regards to health benefits as well as meeting your pet’s overall needs to ensure that smaller breeds get a mix of really lean proteins, omega fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates. Vegetables and fruits are great for them too but make sure to avoid foods that can be difficult to digest such as beans, corn, peas, and legumes.
Attention should also be paid to the amount of calcium in the food your small breed dog is eating since they burn through it faster than other types of dogs so you’ll want to go with special formulations designed specifically for their size when it comes to both kibble or canned food.
Calories, like other nutrients, should be distributed evenly throughout the day if your dog is on free-feed to ensure he doesn’t gorge himself at mealtime and end up with stomach upset.
Also, take note that smaller dogs often need more than one kind of kibble or canned food in order for them to meet all of their dietary needs so don’t immediately assume that just because they’re small breeds means they only require tiny amounts of certain things.
Smaller breeds are also more susceptible to developing hypoglycemia, especially if they eat too much junk food or foods high in sugar so it’s best to stick with healthy fruit and veggie snacks instead of biscuits, candies, and chocolate items. For small breed puppies who are teething, rawhides are great for their teeth and gums but they can be dangerous to small dogs since they can easily ingest the entire thing if they’re not careful so it’s best to stick with smaller ones.