Small dogs have unique nutritional needs at each stage of their life. Whether your tiny pooch is a puppy, middle-aged, or enjoying its golden years, our North Providence vets are here to help you with a few easy-to-follow tips on finding the best food for small breed dogs.
Choosing a Food for Your Small Dog
The nutritional needs of small breed dogs are unique, so to help your tiny canine look and feel their very best it's important to provide them with food that fulfills their needs at each stage of life.
What you may not realize is that small and toy breed dogs have higher metabolic rates than their larger cousins. This means that our pint-sized pooches burn a surprising number of calories throughout the day and need a diet that can match these needs.
The Risk of Hypoglycemia In Small Breed Puppies
When it comes to the health of small-breed puppies, one condition that is of particular concern is hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia occurs due to low blood sugar resulting from your small pup's fast metabolic rate combined with low sugar and body fat reserves. Signs of hypoglycemia in dogs include:
- Poor appetite
- Twitching or tremoring
Hypoglycemia can be fatal if left untreated, so choosing a diet that meets all of your small dog's needs, and helps to balance their blood sugar levels, is essential.
If your small-breed puppy is exhibiting any of the symptoms above, call your veterinarian immediately.
Best Foods for Small Breed Puppies
Most reputable dog food brands offer small-breed puppy food that is formulated to provide the appropriate balance of nutrients for small-breed dogs. Foods formulated for small dogs also typically have smaller kibbles, to make it easier for small breed puppies to chew. These smaller kibbles are also thought to be less of a choking hazard than standard-sized kibble.
If you have a small-breed puppy, speak to your vet about the risks of hypoglycemia and what steps you can take to help prevent it in your small-breed fur baby. Your vet will be able to calculate your puppy's caloric requirements and recommend brands formulated to meet the needs of your small breed pooch.
Best Foods for Small Breed Adult Dogs
Your vet has access to the latest research on dog nutrition and is in the best position to recommend the right food for your small-breed dog.
Depending on the overall health of your dog your vet may recommend a brand specially formulated to help with skin problems, joint health, or others conditions.
Knowing how much food to feed your small dog is essential. While your little pooch needs plenty of calories to keep its speedy metabolism running smoothly, it's important not to overfeed your small dog.
It is believed that obesity can reduce your pup's life by as many as two years, and carrying extra weight puts your small dog at increased risk for several serious health conditions including osteoarthritis, diabetes, respiratory issues, and heart disease.
Once you have chosen a brand to feed your pooch, ask your vet to calculate how much and how often you should feed your small-breed dog.
Best Foods For Small Breed Senior Dogs
One of the great things about small breed dogs is that they typically live longer than medium and large breed dogs. On average small breed dogs live about 15 years.
This is one reason why choosing high-quality adult food is essential right from the point where your pooch graduates from puppy food. Reducing your pup's risk of developing health issues later in life goes a long way toward ensuring that your small breed pooch remains active and healthy throughout its senior years.
If you have a senior small breed dog, ask your vet to review the nutritional qualities of the food you're currently feeding your pup to ensure that all of your dog's needs are being met.
While most high-quality dog foods formulated for small breeds will meet your dog's nutritional needs throughout their senior years, your vet may recommend a formulation to help treat any health concerns your pup may have such as GI problems, sensitive skin, or coat issues.
Changing Your Small Dog's Food
Regardless of the size of your dog, changing their food can cause some unexpected consequences in the form of gastrointestinal upset. The best way to transition your canine pal to a new food is in gradual steps.
Begin by mixing about 25% new food along with their regular food for 3 or 4 days and monitor your dog for any signs of tummy upset such as gas, or loose stools.
If your dog is doing well with the new food gradually increase the proportion of new food to about 50% and continue to monitor your dog for any reactions to their change of diet.
Over about 10 - 14 days, your dog's digestive tract should become accustomed to the new food and you can complete the transition. If however, your dog continues to show signs of gastrointestinal upset, contact your vet for advice. A longer, more gradual transition to the new food may be required, or perhaps it isn't the right food for your little friend.