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. Today, our Tucson vets share some advice on choosing the right dry dog food for small-breed dogs.
Choosing Food for Small Dogs
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.
Perhaps to your surprise, small and toy-breed dogs have higher metabolic rates than larger dogs. This indicates that our tiny pooches burn a surprisingly high number of calories per day and need a diet that can accommodate these needs.
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 trembling
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
The majority of reputable dog food manufacturers offer small-breed puppy food that is created to give small-breed dogs the ideal nutritional balance. Small dog foods frequently contain smaller kibbles, which makes it simpler for small-breed puppies to chew. Additionally, smaller kibbles are believed to present less of a choking risk than larger kibbles.
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 other 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.
A small dog who is overweight is more likely to develop serious health conditions like osteoarthritis, diabetes, respiratory issues, and heart disease. Obesity is thought to shorten a puppy's life by up to two years.
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 of the factors that makes selecting high-quality adult food crucial once your dog moves on from puppy food. Your small breed dog will be much more likely to live an active, healthy senior life if you can lower your pup's risk of developing health issues later in life.
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.
After 10 to 14 days, your dog's digestive system ought to get used to the new food, at which point you can finish the switch. Consult your dog's veterinarian if the digestive distress continues. The new food might need to be introduced gradually over a longer period or it might not be the best choice for your little friend.