Best Dog Food For Small Dogs: 2022 Small Breed Pup Food Guide

As pet owners, we often spend a lot of time wondering what options we have as far as buying dog food. What flavors should we pick? Should we get organic? Is it healthier to buy grain-free foods?

I’m here to give you some insight on what you should, and shouldn’t, be looking for when it comes to food for your small breed dogs.

Dog Food Brands For Small Breeds: Dry & Canned

What Makes Small Breeds Different?

The best food for small breeds isn’t necessarily the same as the best for large breeds.

Small dogs have special needs and requirements to maintain a healthy diet so foods that work for large breeds, might not be ideal for your small dog.

In this article, we’re going to review the following small breed dog foods:

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Best Small Breed Dog Food Brands

I have looked at quite a few dog foods for small breeds and have put together my top recommendations, all of which are available online at Amazon.

#1 Royal Canin Health Nutrition For Small Dogs

Royal Canin has foods for all ages of small breeds, in both wet and dry form. Small dogs need more energy than big dogs and they have a shorter and more intense growth period. 

Royal Canin is formulated to meet the specific needs of small dogs through all life stages. 


  • Supplies nutrients to support healthy aging. Contains EPA, DHA, and other varieties of antioxidants.
  • Easy to chew for aging dogs with fragile teeth.
  • Controlled phosphorus level to help maintain kidney health.


  • Slightly expensive
  • May cause gassiness

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#2 Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small + Toy Breed

This brand is available in both wet and dry form and also available for all age groups. 

Hill’s Science Adult Small + Toy Breed is made with a smaller kibble that is designed for small mouths. It is also made with an antioxidant blend including vitamins C and E.


  • Easy to chew and digest
  • Helps support a healthy immune system
  • Affordable


  • May cause more frequent and foul bowel movements
  • May cause bad breath
  • Doesn’t come in a zipper sealed bag

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#3 Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed

Wellness brand has very many flavor options for you and your dog to choose from. 

It has the perfect balance of protein, essential vitamins, and minerals to support the unique health of a small dog.


  • No wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Small, easy to chew kibbles
  • Great for sensitive digestive systems


  • It no longer comes in a resealable zipper bag
  • May cause some diarrhea when switching
  • Slightly pricey

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#4 Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Formula

Purina is one of the most well-known brands of dog food. Real meat is the #1 ingredient in all Purina formulas. 

It also provides the optimal protein-to-fat ratio to help dogs maintain their ideal body.


  • Very affordable
  • Variety of flavors and formulas
  • Supports digestive health


  • May cause constipation at first
  • Doesn’t come in bulk sizes
  • May cause gassiness

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#5 Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutro makes food for all ages and sizes. Their recipes start with real chicken as the #1 ingredient and feature a trio of protein from chicken, lamb, and salmon.


  • Non-GMO ingredients and no corn, wheat, or soy
  • Full of flavor and high-quality protein
  • Easy to chew kibble


  • May cause diarrhea
  • Somewhat expensive

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#6 Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Grain-Free

Nature’s Recipe uses no artificial colors or preservatives. It is made with real chicken and has nutrient-dense carbohydrates to help your dog stay active and healthy.

Sweet potato and pumpkin are added to complement the flavor of the chicken. 


  • Grain-free
  • Easily digestible
  • Perfectly sized for small mouths


  • The largest bag is only 12 pounds
  • A little pricey
  • May cause diarrhea

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#7 Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition

Pedigree is also a very well-known brand of dog food. Made with whole grains, protein, and omega-6 fatty acids, it helps your dog look and feel their best.

In addition, the oral care kibble will gently clean their teeth with every bite.


  • Made with omega-6 fatty acid and zinc to help nourish skin and coat
  • Very affordable
  • No artificial flavors, no added sugars, and no high fructose corn syrup


  • May cause diarrhea at first
  • Might be hard for older dogs to chew unless softened with water

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#8 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed

Blue Buffalo is known to have more breed size and condition-specific foods than any other natural pet food.

Their formula always starts with real meat plus healthy fruits and consists of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.


  • Always features real meat as the first ingredient
  • Increased levels of protein and carbohydrates to meet energy needs
  • Helps support a healthy immune system


  • Slightly expensive
  • May cause bowel issues at first
  • Might cause weight gain

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#9 Merrick Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Recipe 

Whole Earth Farms has high-quality protein listed as a top ingredient!

The recipes are cooked in the USA with natural ingredients that deliver complete and balanced nutrition.


  • Grain-free recipe for easier digestibility
  • No poultry by-products, no corn, no soy, no wheat, and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives


  • A tad pricey
  • The largest bag is 12 pounds

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

#10 Diamonds Natural Small Breed

Diamond Naturals provides complete nutrition for every pet. The small kibble is easy for small mouths to chew and also helps clean teeth and reduce plaque.

25% protein and 15% fat provides your small dog with the nutrients needed for optimal health and an active lifestyle.


  • The high-quality protein made with real meat
  • Affordable
  • No corn, wheat, or fillers


  • May cause diarrhea at first
  • May cause bad breath
  • May cause thirst

>> Check Price On Amazon <<

Why You Should Buy Organic Foods For Small Breeds?

Organic dog food is just like any other dog food except that the ingredients are subjected to higher standards.

To be considered “organic” all plant ingredients must be grown in soil that has not been treated with prohibited substances, such as pesticides, for 3 years prior to harvest.

For meat to be labeled as organic, the meat must be raised on 100% organic feed and in conditions that accommodate for natural behaviors.

They must also be free of hormones and antibiotics.

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What Makes A Good Food Brand for Small Breeds?

Small breeds have other nutritional requirements than large breeds, which is what we will talk about in this section.

Toy Breed Formula

Any dog food should be formulated specifically for them. It is not recommended to feed a small breed the same food as large breeds. 

While it may seem like “just a label”, it isn’t.

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Calorie Balanced Foods

Since small breeds are very tiny in size, they use up energy faster than larger dogs.

Calorie-dense foods give them all the calories they need in fewer volumes, which is perfect for the small size of their stomachs.

High-Quality Protein

Protein is at the top of the list of importance for dog food. High-quality protein is usually a meat-based protein. 

You want at least 3 of the first 5 ingredients to be meat-based.


Fat is almost as important as protein when it comes to dog food. The best brands for small breeds contain adequate amounts of fatty acids such as Omega-3 or Omega-6.

Failure to give them the necessary fat may result in their coat becoming dry and skin being itchy.


This is an area you have to pay special attention to. Small dogs are much more likely to suffer from hypoglycemia, which is a sudden drop in blood sugar.

To make sure they maintain a stable blood sugar level, feed them dog food that has the majority of carbohydrates coming from complex carbohydrate sources.

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Why Do Grain-Free Foods Matter?

Some owners believe that grain-free labels are just a marketing technique, but others feel that grain-free foods are lifesavers. Some breeds have a sensitivity to grains, such as corn, wheat, and soy.

Because of this sensitivity, grain-free foods can be the best thing for these breeds. However, that does not always mean allergen-free.

Non-Toxic Ingredients

Some ingredients might be all-natural but can still be harmful to dogs, such as onions and garlic.

Since eating these can cause anemia, it is important to eliminate dog foods containing these.

Balances Meat vs. Meal Ratio

Meat and meat meal are two different things. Meat is meat.

However, a meat meal is highly concentrated, processed at high temperature and high pressure so a smaller volume has a higher concentration of nutrients.

Learn: What Is A Good Source Of Protein For Dogs?

No Fillers Disguised As Plant-Based Protein

Corn, peas, and other vegetables should not be the first ingredient in a brand of dog food. 

The best formulas should have an 80:20:0 ratio, meaning it should have 80% meat and fish, 20% fruit, vegetable, and botanical extracts, and of course, 0 additives.

No Artificial Additives

Artificial additives are the main reason for allergic reactions to dog food.

Artificial colors, moisturizers, food enhancers, and preservatives may cause serious medical conditions such as kidney disease, liver failure, growth stunts, hypertension, diabetes, and yeast infections.

No Extra Water To Increase Mass

The FDA limits the amount of moisture to 78%. This percentage increases to 87.5% if the label contains the words “gravy”, “soup”, or anything similar.

Since there is no specification on these words, it is possible you could be spending more money just for added water in dry foods.

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Other Things To Consider When Shopping For Small Breed Dog Food


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Variety Of Flavors

Just like humans, dogs have preferences. Some dogs may devour chicken-flavored foods but might not go near beef flavored.

If you’re a new pet owner, explore the flavors and find out which one your dog likes best.


My top-picked foods are available online, and some even in most pet stores. However, some companies only distribute in certain regions or specialty stores.

This consideration mainly pertains to whether you like in-store shopping or online shopping.


No matter how much money you are able and willing to spend, it is okay to stick to your budget.

Don’t feel pressured to get the most expensive food just to be the #1 puppy parent.

Consult Your Vet

No matter what my top favorites are, you know your dog best.

If you would like to try out one of my favorites but have any kind of concern, talk to your vet and see if they can shed some light on what you should look for.

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Things To Avoid

Toxic Ingredients

There are actually way too many brands that contain members of the Allium plant group such as garlic, onions, scallions, chives, and leeks.

These ingredients can make dogs immediately sick if eaten in large quantities.

Low-Quality Mystery Meats

Mystery meats are sometimes labeled as “meat meal”.

This label insists that the food is made from meats other than cattle, pigs, sheep, or goats but has no further description so you can’t be sure what is really in the food.

Potentially Harmful Additives

Artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors are extremely common in dog foods.

These are not healthy for dogs and may lead to serious health conditions.

Inconsistent Quality

While some brands may claim to be the healthiest choice, it can be one small ingredient that throws it out the window.

Different flavors of the same brand each contain different ingredients. If you want to switch up the flavor, be sure to check the ingredients first.

The flavor you want to try may contain onion while the flavor you already like does not.

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Considered For Allergies

Signs of allergies include itchy skin, diarrhea, and gassiness.

These reactions are most commonly due to proteins in the food which may contain corn, wheat, or rice.

Read: 20 Dog Food Recipes With Chicken

Small Breed Dog Foods: All FAQs

# How often should I feed my Small Breed dog?

You should feed your small dog about twice a day. At 8-12 hour intervals to avoid overfeeding.

# How much should I feed my Small Breed dog?

All dog food labels include their own feeding suggestions. That contains a list of the amount of pup food per day that is recommended for your small dog’s weight. 

In addition to these recommendations, pay attention to your small breed dog’s energy levels to figure out how much food they need to stay active and trim.

Related Reading: Top Dog Foods For Gaining Weights 

# How long can canned food be left out?

Canned food should never be left out for longer than 30 minutes to an hour. Water creates an environment perfect for microbial contamination.

# How do I know if my Small Breed dog is overweight?

When viewed from above, your dog should have a visible waist, which looks like a gentle taper between the rib cage and hips.

You should be able to feel, but not see, your small breed dog’s ribs. If his ribs are showing, he is too skinny. If his body is shaped like an oval from above and has a wobbling belly from the side, he is most likely overweight.

# Can I leave dog food out all day?

Leaving dog food out all day may result in your dog trying to feed himself, which may lead to overeating. It is recommended that you feed your dog as suggested, instead of free feeding.

# Why isn’t my dog food listed?

I have chosen the best foods that in my opinion, are healthier for your dog. If you are concerned about your brand not making it on my list, you can check if the ingredients go against my recommendation.

# Are grain-free dog foods better?

It’s really up to you and your dog. Grains aren’t really a necessity for dogs so it isn’t something they rely on, but it also won’t hurt them. However, some dogs may have grain allergies, but it really depends on the dog.

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Can you give raw meat to a dog?

# Can you give raw meat to a dog?

Just like grain-free foods, this option is dependent on your dog’s personal preference. Some dogs love a raw food diet while others would rather stick to regular dog food. 

If you choose a raw food diet, be careful with what meat you choose and how you handle it to avoid bacterial contamination.

Could You Find Your Best Dog Food For Small Breeds Today?

My personal preference would definitely be Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition as the best dog food for small dogs. Because it is both affordable and my dogs love it! I hope this article can give you some insight into the basics of choosing the best food for your fur baby.

Feel free to share with your friends and family and if you have any comments or questions, feel free to share them!

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