It’s dinnertime! But unlike a person, your beloved dog’s diet can be a little trickier to master. After all, your pet can’t tell you what they want in a pet food or what makes them feel their best. 

The good news? Dog food has come a long way. These days, there are dog foods with ingredients so good that you’d eat it for dinner yourself. 

Better still, we did the homework so you don’t have to. Here’s a look at some of the best dog foods for small breeds. 

The Art of Nutrition for Smaller Dogs

While we often associate dogs with meat, dogs are not obligate carnivores (that honor goes to cats). Instead, dogs have evolved to meet their nutritional needs on a combination of meat and plant material. 

In basic terms, a balanced diet for small dogs (and any other breed for that matter) should include: 

Overall, dogs need more than 50 key nutrients to stay healthy, and they must receive these nutrients in balance. Some dogs have different dietary requirements based on health issues. For example, a dog with kidney disease may need a low phosphorus diet. Puppies also require a different mix of nutrients to support their growth. When buying food, you'll want to make sure it is nutritionally balanced according to AAFCO standards for that stage of life and according to your dog's health needs.

Caloric Differences for Small Dog Breeds

First, it’s important to remember that size isn’t just a number. It translates directly to the best dog food for your pup’s health. 

Small breeds overall have higher metabolic rates. While it might seem like large dogs have higher caloric needs, small breeds require roughly 40 calories per pound, while large dogs need just 22.5 calories per pound. 

Small breed puppies, in particular, have unique dietary concerns. Like all puppies, they have higher metabolic rates than adult dogs because they’re growing so quickly. This means they need calorie-dense foods three to four times per day. 

On the far end of the spectrum, senior small breed dogs also need food rich in antioxidants. They tend to live longer than large breed dogs, and those antioxidants help prevent free radical damage for a better quality of life as they age. 

What to Look for in Small Breed Dog Food

When examining dog food, always turn to the ingredient list

Start by examining the order of ingredients. Ingredients are always listed based by weight prior to cooking, so the first ingredients on the list have the highest percentage in the overall dog food. 

Second, take a look at the contents of the ingredient list. A high-quality dog food will have human-grade whole food ingredients you can recognize and that you would happily pile on your own dinner plate. That means things like: 

However, keep in mind that the ingredient list may not tell you much about the quality of the ingredients. Look for dog foods made with certified organic ingredients, and if you’re overwhelmed in the dog food aisle, do some research or ask your vet for recommendations.

Make sure to look for dog foods that say “complete and balanced”. These contain at least the minimum nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary to maintain your dog’s health. However, not all complete and balanced dog foods are created equal--again, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients. 

If you’re not sure where to begin on a nutrient profile, check out the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which provides nutrient profiles for puppies and adult dogs. 

Best Dog Foods for Small Breeds

With that in mind, we did our homework so you don’t have to. You really can’t do better for a small breed than feeding them A Pup Above. 

For top flavor and protein content, we say the best small breed dog food options on the market right now is our fan-favorite Texas Beef Stew. On average, our dog food packs 77% more protein than the rest, and it comes from all natural sources - in this case, grass-fed beef. All of our ingredients are human-grade and pronounceable, like russet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and turmeric. Plus, we offer precise nutritional information on every package so you always know exactly what you’re feeding Spot for dinner (the short version: it’s all superior-quality, all natural ingredients you would eat yourself). 

Looking for High Quality Small Breed Dog Foods?

Here at A Pup Above, we’re all about high-powered, high-quality nutrition. That’s why we provide dog foods made entirely with USDA human-grade ingredients, as natural and organic as the rest of your grocery bag and formulated for optimum nutrition. 

Sound good? Then make sure to check out our shop (and our sampler pack) to find your pup’s next favorite meal.

Small dog researching food choices