Proper Nutrition for Small Breed Dogs

small breed dogs cover

Most people think that a logical conclusion would be that small breed dogs eat less than large breed dogs, however not only this assumption is not true, it is quite the opposite. Small dog breeds require more calories than larger dogs because they have higher metabolic rates. Neglecting the proper dose can lead to serious health issues for small breeds, especially in their puppy and developing stage.

Naturally, the amount of food a dog should eat is based on their breed, age, and condition. Whether it’s the small breed or large breed, we can still separate them into several same categories: puppies, adult dogs, overweight dogs and pregnant or nursing dogs.

Generally, in terms of calories, energy comes from three major components: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

Their main nutrition is protein. They are essential for glucose for energy. They selectively choose high protein meals. Protein and fats are the most concentrated source of energy in this case.

Essential Small Breed Dogs Nutrients

There are twelve minerals that are essential nutrients for dogs. Calcium and phosphorus are crucial for strong bones and teeth. Potassium, sodium, and magnesium for nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and cell signaling. Copper, molybdenum, and selenium help in many enzymatic reactions. It is highly recommended to advise your dog vet for the right amount of mineral intake because deficiency or excess of minerals can also cause abnormalities. For instance, a deficiency of calcium can cause a condition known as secondary hyperparathyroidism. It usually appears when dogs are fed with meals consisting mainly of meat. It results in major bone loss, skeletal abnormalities, and pathological fractures. However, an excess of calcium can also result in skeletal abnormalities, especially in growing large-breed puppies.

Dry or Wet

As for nutrition and digestibility, there are no major differences between dry and wet (canned) dog food. Most owners make the decision based on their lifestyle, preferences, and budget. For dogs that need more water to consume or have special dietary needs, canned food has shown to be a better choice. However, most dogs will do fine on dry kibble. Even though dogs are omnivorous, their diet should not include meat only. Although proteins and fats are their main energy sources dogs can still use carbohydrates as a source of energy. A dog can digest cooked food, however by no means should you use spices. Spice is extremely harmful to the dog.

As mentioned, basic nutrients are proteins, fats, and minerals and vitamins. A general measure of ingredients depends on the dog’s age and health condition.

Puppie Needs

small breed dogs puppies

Puppies need almost double calories than adult dogs based on body weight calculations. After 4 weeks of breastfeeding, owners should start feeding puppies because breastfeeding milk doesn’t provide enough nutrition. Meals for puppies should be spaced out in multiple smaller meals.

Older Small Breed Dogs

Older dogs have decreased physical activity and slowed metabolism. They need 20 % fewer total calories than middle-aged adult dogs. Older and inactive dogs are prone to becoming overweight, therefore their meal needs to be spaced out and balanced properly. Unlike puppies, adult dog calorie intake can be calculated based on their average weight. 30 x weight in kg (or pounds divided by 2.2) + 70 = daily caloric adult dog needs. For puppies, it is highly recommended to visit your vet to get proper calorie intake measurements.

Older dogs are less active, therefore, they have a slower metabolism. They need fewer calories than young dogs. As dog age, it tends to become overweight. Just like humans, obese dogs have disrupted metabolism which can easily lead to diabetes. The best solution for an overweight dog is usually caloric restriction. It is usually 70% to 90% of the calculated amount for weight maintenance.

Pregnant Small Breed Dogs

A pregnant dog’s needs for calories increase with the number of puppies and the weeks of lactation, which is usually up to 4 weeks.

It is easy to determine whether your dog is underweight, ideal weight or overweight based on their appearance.

Your dog is underweight if you can see its ribs. It is easy to notice less muscle mass. They have less tolerance to bacterial infections and parasites and it can also have an effect on their development and growth.

The dog is at an ideal weight if the waist can be seen from above and also based on their abdominal tuck when it is viewed from the side.

The easiest way to see if your dog is overweight is if you can’t feel ribs when touching. When looking from above starting from the tail to stomach there should be a shape resembling a bulb. If it is more oval shape, rather than the bulb shape the dog is overweight. Chances of overweight dogs are more common with age and neutered dogs. Overweight dogs have higher risks of diabetes and osteoarthritis.


When it comes to products, you should feed your dog the highest-quality food you can afford. They tend to be picky eaters and finding options for picky eaters can be tough. You should always check the source of ingredients. Pet food ingredients are listed by order of weight. Each ingredient is weighed before it is added to food so make sure to check ingredients on the label before buying. If it is something you can’t recognize, move to the next product.

Dogs eat larger, less frequent meals than do cats. It is fine to feed an adult dog one or two times per day. However, make sure to do the proper measures before dividing meals. Puppies, however, need two to three daily meals. It’s also important to remember to keep your dog from sampling the next-door dog food and to refrain from giving your dog table scraps. Fresh water should be available to your dog at all times to reduce the risk of becoming overheated and dehydrated. A dog’s need for water increases with the amount of energy he expends during exercise and the amount of water usually doubles during warm or hot weather.


Small breeds are known among dogs as the breed with the longest lifespan which can be even 15 plus years long and naturally, proper nutrition is essential for their longevity.

Photo credits:

Caio Resende from Pexels

Josh Hild from Pexels