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Here are the Best Puppy Food for Small Breeds

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Food
Wellness Simple Small Breed
Life Protection Formula
Orijen’s Biologically Appropriate Puppy Food

jump directly to our picks for best puppy food for small breeds by clicking on the links in the review box

CC image “and yu?” by Sara Fasullo on Flickr – Thx Sara!

When you originally brought your tiny pup home, you never realized what a fiery ball of energy he would turn out to be.

Wasn’t the point of getting a small-breed dog to make less work for yourself?

Rather than lying contently on the carpet, your doxie is running at full tilt around the house like it’s a Nascar derby.

And his little appetite is so voracious he’s starting to find your leather shoes extremely appealing.

Super dachshund!
CC image “trufa voladora” by odanielgp on Flickr – thx!

Your neighbor gave you a leftover bag of puppy food from when their Giant Schnauzer was slightly less gargantuan, but after looking at the size of the kibble, you fear your little demon dog may die of asphyxiation from choking on it.

But other than kibble size, your little dog has some unique nutritional needs you’re going to need to meet.

For optimal growth and development, you can’t simply feed your miniature terrier the same food you’ve always fed your other large-breed puppies.

Best Puppy Food for Small Breeds

I’ve reviewed four top puppy foods for small-breed puppies to help you make a decision:

1. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Food

Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Recipe

I’m going to admit that I actually have included two of Wellness’ small-breed puppy formulations on this list.

I’ve consistently been impressed with their formulation compared to other mainstream dog foods. Wellness’ complete healthy puppy formula is a blend that is high in protein and fat, which is perfect for small tummies and fast metabolisms.

What’s great about this formulation is that the first two ingredients are a source of animal-based protein.

You won’t see any bi-products in Wellness’ products.

As a reminder, bi-products are a no-no when choosing a high-quality puppy food. What you think is chicken breast may actually be chicken feet.

What’s also great about this formulation is the diverse array of animal proteins used.

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In the wild, your dog wouldn’t have limited himself to eating only fish or only turkey. He would have hunted whatever he came across, and this would have been beneficial to his health.

Fish are high in omega-3 fats, red meat is high in iron etc. Your puppy will benefit by eating a wide array of animal proteins including chicken, turkey, salmon, and menhaden fish.

But it’s not all meat all the time in this formulation.

Carrots and spinach are antioxidant-rich additions, and there is a great probiotic blend for increasing nutrient absorption and digestive health for your high-energy puppy.

My concern with this food comes down to the addition of those notorious grains.

Maybe you and all the women in your yoga class have gone gluten-free and you feel amazing, so you think that as long as there isn’t any wheat in your dog’s food then he should be fine.

Unfortunately, this is often not the case, especially for sensitive dogs.

Even healthy grains like oatmeal, barley, and rye contain phytates and lectins, which are substances that impede digestion and prevent nutrient absorption.

So if your little spitfire is literally spitting fire by vomiting all over your new dining room carpet, I suggest taking a closer look at his food and possibly getting rid of the grains.

Good for:

  • Puppies with medium-strength digestion
  • Puppies that handle grains well

2. Wellness Simple Small Breed

Salmon & Potato Formula

And now to follow the previous Wellness formula with another small-breed puppy Wellness food!  When I see something I like, I tend to roll with it.

Similar to their previous formula, Simple’s first two ingredients are animal-based protein, but true to it’s name, this food keeps it simple to one type of animal protein.

In this case, that’s salmon.

Salmon is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats that are a good brain-builder for a puppy that you may already suspect of being too smart.

At the same time, certain small-breed puppies can be at risk for joint problems, which means you need to take extra care that their joints grow and form properly (try to prevent Fido from taking too many launchpad lessons off the couch!).

If you’re worried about grains, then allay your fears because Simple has removed all types and forms of grains.

Starch has to come from somewhere though, and in this case they’re being sourced from legumes. Legumes also contain digestion-disrupting lectins, but they appear to cause less of a problem than most grains.

The only thing you can do is trial-and-error to find something that won’t disrupt your pet’s bowel movements. If you suspect your puppy of being especially delicate, despite the fact that he actively searches out raccoon feces as if it were his life’s mission, I would give Wellness Simple a try.

Unfortunately, no food is perfect (although some do come close).

In this case, I abhor canola oil in all shapes and forms, especially for owners too! It’s an inflammatory fat that does more harm than good.

Your puppy needs good fats for energy and a lovely coat, but there are so many better sources than canola oil

In addition, because this formula is ‘simple’, you won’t be getting all the bells and whistles some of the others have like a nice array of fruits and vegetables.

Good for:

  • Sensitive puppies
  • Puppies with suspected allergies

3. Life Protection Formula

Chicken and Oatmeal Recipe for Small-Breed Puppies

Life Protection is also another good bet for your small-breed puppy.

It’s high in protein, which is especially important for small dog’s speedy metabolisms. Per pound, your little pup needs more calories than his large-breed cousin.

Think of small-breed puppies as the hummingbirds of the dog world. Constantly moving and constantly eating to meet all their energy needs.

Life Protection’s first two ingredients are a source of chicken, and they’ve also included fish as a good source of omega fats.

his food does have grains (the horror, I know), but they are a low G.I. form of starch.

Why does that even matter?

Last time you checked, you weren’t having to administer insulin to your new puppy.

But in fact, small dogs are much more prone to fluctuations in their blood sugar levels. That’s why it’s so important to feed them regularly to give them a stable source of energy.

Starch like corn, white potatoes, and wheat can cause blood sugar fluctuations giving your dog the feeling that he’s on an energy rollercoaster with extreme highs, only to crash later.

There are some nice extras in this formula if you want to give your little dog all the benefits of the fruits and vegetables your mom always nagged you to eat. Everything from carrots, sweet potatoes, kelp, apples, spinach, and blackberries can be found in this formulation for a nice antioxidant boost.

At that same time, a little anti-inflammatory turmeric can go a long way if your pup is prone to any type of inflammation (e.g., allergies).

There are a few minor additions I don’t agree with such as including ground flaxseed.

Flax is one of those trendy superfoods right now, and many companies are adding it to their dog food to give more sticker appeal. But flaxseed is one of those delicate fats that needs to be ground to be digested, and eaten immediately or else it turns rancid.

If you are going to give your dog flaxseed then consider grinding it yourself the old-fashioned way.

Good for:

  • Puppies with blood sugar issues
  • Puppies with medium-strength digestion
  • Puppies who can handle grains

4. Orijen’s Biologically Appropriate Puppy Food

I have raved about Orijen before and I will continue to do so here.

You may be thinking that Orijen’s puppy food is not specifically made for small-breed dogs, so why should you buy it? Well hold your horses because I’ll enlighten you on why you shouldn’t necessarily always rely on what the label tells you.

As you already know, small puppies have unique nutritional needs, one of which includes needing more fat and protein to support their little bodies.

Of all the foods listed so far, Orijen’s protein and fat content actually skyrockets past the other three brands.

How can that be?

Well, the first 16 ingredients are some form of animal-protein (compared to the first two for the other brands)!

Plus, your puppy is not only getting chicken, chicken, and more chicken. Chicken is included, but so is turkey, herring, and salmon.

Also, it’s not muscle meats all the time either.

Orijen has wisely included organ meats such as liver and heart. Your taste buds may shrink at the thought of eating something like liver, but your puppy (and possibly your grandparents) would agree it is delicious and nutritious.

Organ meats are the superfoods of the meat world because they are so high in essential vitamins, which are perfect for a metabolically-hyped and speedily-growing puppy.

Also, due to the inclusion of high-quality fish, Orijen is very high in omega-3 fats and DHA, which are important for your puppy’s growing brain.

Again, the only thing you need to be wary of is the inclusion of starch in the form of lectins. There are so many differing opinions on the perfect diet (just like in the human world!), that you’ll see everything from a starch-based diet recommended to dogs, to one that is completely devoid of carbohydrates altogether.

The fact that dogs can eat everything and anything seems to point to their resilience. That being said, Orijen has included some low G.I. legumes in their formulation for energy.

If your puppy has a real problem with any form of starch, it may be best to try a raw food diet as your best bet. In addition, Orijen does include a nice array of antioxidant fruit and vegetables, and a lot of fancy sounding herbs.

The herbs all have purported benefits, but just be on the lookout if your puppy’s behavior, energy levels, and stool change over time. Herbs can be therapeutic, but it is possible to get too much of a good thing sometimes.

Good for:

  • High-energy dogs (high protein and fat content)
  • Puppies with sensitive digestion
  • Owners who are interested in pursuing a more ancestral diet for their dogs

At first, it can seem impossible to find the perfect food for your extra-small four-legged friend. Not only does he have special needs due to being a puppy, but his small-breed status also requires additional catering to.

More and more companies are stepping up to the plate these days by creating unique formulas to meet your small-breed puppy’s needs.

By choosing one of the following four brands, you can’t go wrong.

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