Providing high-quality puppy food will help your new four-legged friend live a long and healthy life. Regardless of the size of your chosen breed, puppyhood is a time of rapid growth and development. It’s vital to choose a food that will meet your puppy’s nutritional needs during this important growth period. Here are some tips for feeding small-breed puppies.
Small, Toy or Teacup?
A puppy that will not weigh more than 20 pounds as an adult is considered a “small” breed of dog. When you get below 8-10 pounds at maturity, that puts them more into the “toy” dog category. And those tiny “teacup” pups, which many people consider to be just a small-size toy, can weigh just 3-5 pounds when full grown.
Small-Breed Puppy Metabolism
Small-breed puppies have a higher metabolism than medium and large breeds, which means they burn energy very quickly. As a result, small-breed puppies need a calorie-dense diet in order to function properly and keep their blood glucose levels steady. And since small-breed puppies can’t eat much food in one sitting, what they eat needs to have plenty of protein and fat. The best protein sources for small-breed puppies are chicken or turkey, but lamb, beef and duck are good too.
Small-Breed Food Options
There are three forms of commercially produced dog foods: dry (kibble), moist (canned food) and semi-moist (sealed packages). No matter which form you decide to feed your small-breed dog, make sure it’s made with premium-quality ingredients like real meat instead of meat by-products, and doesn’t contain fillers like corn, wheat and soy.
Remember that high-quality ingredients translate to better digestibility, i.e., the amount of food your small-breed puppy’s body will actually be able to use. Consequently, your puppy will need to eat less food than with economy brands, and produce less waste too.
Many dog-food companies offer a small-breed puppy formula, which provides the concentrated nutrition he needs for his higher metabolic rate. Small-breed puppy kibble usually comes in smaller, bite-size pieces that are easier for his little mouth to handle.
The First Few Days
When you bring your new puppy home, it’s a good idea to continue feeding the same food he was eating for about seven to 10 days, and use the same feeding schedule too. Puppies need to be switched to new food gradually to help prevent stomach upset. Start by feeding roughly 75 percent of his old food with 25 percent of whatever new food you have chosen for your puppy. After several days, use a 50-50 ratio for another few days, then 75-25 until eventually he is eating 100 percent of the new food.
It’s best to feed small-breed puppies four meals per day until 12 weeks of age, and then three times per day until 6 months of age. After 6 months to adulthood, they may be fed twice a day. Small-breed puppies obviously have very small stomachs and regular mealtimes help to provide them the adequate nutrition they need. Regular mealtimes also help to make housetraining your puppy easier and faster because he will go to the bathroom on a more set schedule.
That said, your puppy’s feeding schedule will likely be dictated by your own schedule. If it’s not possible to feed your puppy at the same time every day, just feed him as close to the scheduled time as possible. Do not leave food out for your small-breed puppy to eat whenever he chooses, because free feeding can lead to obesity in adulthood. Besides, regular mealtimes give your pup’s body time to properly digest his food.
Make it a habit to give your small-breed puppy some quiet time after you feed him. Resist the urge to romp and play with him for the first hour (ideally two) after eating, because this can lead to stomach upsets and possibly more serious problems.
How Much to Feed Your Puppy
Puppies do need to eat a lot of food, but not too much! You shouldn’t rely solely on the dog-food bag or can to tell you how much to feed your puppy. Those amounts are intended to be general guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules, and many times a puppy may need more or less food. Your veterinarian can help you determine the right amount of food your small-breed puppy needs to be in optimal health and at a proper weight. You should be able to feel but not see your puppy’s ribs, and he should have a visible waist when you look down at him.
Good nutrition is the foundation of good health for pets. Follow these tips for feeding your small-breed puppy, carefully research the food you buy and be a responsible pet owner to give your new friend the best chance at a long and healthy life.