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Small Dog Breed Nutrition 101




Often people are misled into thinking that small dog breed nutrition is easier to navigate than that of large dog breeds. This couldn’t be furthest from the truth, especially when it comes to nutrition. The fact is small dog breeds have a faster metabolism than the Bigs. The Little’s need a nutrient-dense food plan, with meals multiple times daily. So let’s explore the misconceptions and replace them with facts.


Let’s start with the littlest of the Little’s, small dog puppy nutrition. Small breed dogs have an extremely fast metabolism. This means they burn calories fast. This results in the small dog breeds needing more meals during the day to sustain growth, brain function, and optimal energy levels. To get the healthiest dose of nutrition these meals should be high in caloric intake, consisting of high-quality fats and proteins, and accessible throughout the day. Ideally, if your small dog breed pup is the only pooch in the house, allowing access to their food 24/7 during early puppy growth is the ideal way to manage a consistent nutritional plan.

Once your puppy's growth rate starts to slow, two to three meals a day is still important. Here’s why, this is especially important with the very Little’s, like toy breeds and teacup breeds. The smaller the body side, the smaller the digestive system. A shorter digestive system means your dog's metabolism needs less time to digest food. Because small dog breeds have such a fast metabolism, they are susceptible to blood sugar fluctuations. Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia can be seen in all small dog breeds but the true tinies and puppies are at greater risk.



  • Anorexia (lack of appetite)

  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)

  • Weakness

  • Vomiting

  • Seizures


Small dog breeds grow and mature faster than larger dog breeds, typically reaching an 80% growth peak within the first year. As stated in the puppy growth stage, quality fats and proteins are essential but for a complete balanced nutrition plan for your small dog breed, you need 6 essential aspects.


It’s also important to do your research on small dog nutrition specific to your breed. This way you get an understanding of how many calories your breed needs. Each small dog breed's nutritional needs can be different. Another helpful hint is to chat about your breed-specific pup with the breeder you purchase your dog from. Chances are your breeder has a very clear understanding of your small dog breeds' nutritional needs. Even more important, they know your individual dog's needs as compared to your pup's parents. Find out how the breeder feeds, what they feed, and how often.


Treats are great, but make sure they are quality treats. A treat doesn’t mean junk. Make every calorie count. Treats can be a great way to add calorie-dense foods in between meals. It’s also a great time for training and bonding.

One last topic to touch on here is food allergies or intolerances. Many dog breeds, in this day and age, have food allergies or intolerances. Again, researching your breed can help you get ahead of any issues your small dog breed may have. There are also easy test kits available should you choose to be more specific to your individual dog. Often when a dog has a food allergy or intolerance it will have digestive issues, like loose stools or throwing up. Sometimes the symptoms show up in skin irritations, such as dry itchy flakes or actual bald spotting. Again, contact your dog's breeder or be prepared to initiate the topic of food allergies before purchasing a pup. Some breeders won’t want to talk about food allergies or intolerances, therefore they may not initiate the subject. But this is not a topic to avoid. If the mother or father of your small dog breed has any allergy problems, it’s important to know moving forward with your small dog breed's nutritional plan.


When implementing any small dog breed nutritional plan, know your breed, and adjust their diet accordingly. Make sure you're providing access to water 24/7, schedule meals multiple times per day, implement healthy snack options in between, and watch for any signs of hypoglycemia, or food allergies. Have open conversations with your dog's breeder. Lastly, never hesitate to contact your veterinarian should you have any questions about your specific small dog breeds' nutritional needs.


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