What’s the best food for small dog breeds?


From the type of food to how many meals per day – here’s what to consider when it comes to your small dog’s diet

What’s the best food for small dog breeds?

Quick takeaways on food for small breeds

  • Smaller dogs have higher metabolic rates and they need more calories per kilo than larger dogs.
  • They also have smaller stomachs, so opting for bitesize foods and more frequent meals is a good idea.
  • Mini and toy breeds are well-suited to raw food as it’s high in protein and nutrients.


Every dog has different nutritional needs, so you'll want to make sure you choose a dog food that has everything your breed needs to stay happy and healthy.

Whether you’ve got a small, toy or mini breed, you might want to consider a food that’s easy for them to eat and digest.

And with raw, cooked and dry foods to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. But, it doesn’t need to be complicated with our guide to feeding small breeds.


What’s the best food for small dog breeds?

Small dogs need food that’s high-quality and nutrient-dense. This is because toy and mini dogs tend to have higher metabolic rates – according to a large study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.

They also have smaller stomachs than larger dogs. This means that small dogs need to take in more calories per kilo than large dogs. For example, a 10kg dog might need around 700 calories daily to maintain a healthy weight. While a 40kg dog would need 2,000 calories per day.

This is why you might look for dog food with higher levels of protein and calories generally, compared to regular adult dog foods.

Second, smaller dogs might need food that’s easy for them to eat. Mini breeds might struggle to eat large kibble or chunky foods, for example.

Raw food might be a good option. It’s usually made with natural ingredients like meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, which are highly nutritious and contain all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs.

Plus, it tends to be easier to eat and digest for all dogs, according to lots of our customers.


How much food does a small dog need?

This depends on lots of factors like age, weight and lifestyle. And as you might already know, a small breed doesn’t necessarily mean a small appetite!

We know it can be a minefield working out how much to feed your dog – check out our guide that will help you work out the right amount of raw to feed your dog.

Because smaller dogs have smaller stomachs and need more calories in proportion to their weight, it can be easier to overfeed your small dog – even slightly.

Make sure you follow the portion sizes recommended by the brand of food and try not to overfeed treats as this could lead to unwanted weight gain and health problems in smaller dogs.


Can small dogs eat raw?

Yes, small and toy breeds can thrive on raw dog food just as larger breeds can.

Regularly eating raw can come with some big benefits, like helping to maintain a healthy coat and skin, as well as and keeping joints and teeth healthy.

Most raw foods are mixed and reshaped into blocks, patties or nuggets, which makes them easier to eat and serve.

Our raw nuggets are great for little jaws and you can even smush them lightly with a fork once they’re thawed to make them even easier to eat.


Can I feed raw to a small dog puppy?

Puppies of any size can eat raw meat – from when they start weaning off of their mother's milk around 3-4 weeks old.

Experts suggest that it's best to add one protein to their diet at a time, allowing their digestive system to get used to each new protein for about a week.


Dry vs raw food for small dogs

There’s an ongoing debate about whether kibble or raw is best for any dog. With different versions of both, it’s not as simple to say one is bad for your dog and the other is good.

Raw food contains ingredients like meat, bone, veg and fruit that make it nutrient-dense and great for small dogs. It’s also been linked to healthy digestion.

Kibble can also be a good option for your dog. However, it’s usually made using very high temperatures. When protein is heated, it affects the digestibility of the meat and limits the number of nutrients that dogs can absorb.

Ultimately, it’s about finding the right food for you and your small dog. However, it’s always a good idea to look out for dog food that has a short list of ingredients, with no chemicals or additives.


What about as they age?

Because small breeds tend to live longer, they’ll benefit from a high-quality diet that helps them live healthier for a longer amount of time.

Food that contains fresh fruit and vegetables has high levels of antioxidants. These have been linked to long-term health benefits, according to a large study published in The Canadian Journal of Vetinerary Research.


Small dog breed food FAQS

What do small dogs need in their diet?

Small breeds need higher energy content (calories) compared to large dogs and a nutrient-dense diet. Here are some ingredients that will benefit your small dog:

  • High-quality protein to support their growth and energy requirements.
  • High-quality fats to help with their higher metabolism.
  • Good sources of digestible carbohydrates like vegetables for a healthy digestive system.

Small dogs will also benefit from small bite-size foods that pack a nutritious punch but in smaller morsels for them to chew and digest.


How long does it take for a small dog to digest food and poop?

On average, it takes a dog about 8-10 hours to digest food.

But, it might take smaller dogs less time – more like 4 hours. However, there isn’t enough research to give a definitive answer.


How many meals a day for a small dog?

Because small dogs have faster metabolisms, you might want to consider feeding their meals 2-3 times a day.


What are the best treats for small dogs?

Treats with high-quality ingredients are a good idea – our Superfood Bars and Meaty Bars contain high percentages of meat, fruit and veg.

You might want to choose more bite-size treats so they’re not too overwhelming for your pooch.

Try our personalised meal plans with high-quality raw ingredients to help keep your dog healthy and happy. You can also chat with an expert via our online chat to find the right food for your small dog.