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Best diets for small dogs

Small dogs have big personality! This is the place to talk up your favorite small breeds, ask questions, and share tips and stories. Be sure to visit our Small Dog Breeds area for profiles of all your favorite small dog breeds, featured articles, and more!

  
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Milton

Im just a little- guy
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 2, '10 1:30pm PST 
Small dogs are a little different than big dogs. They tend to have faster metabolism rates than their bigger friends. Does this mean they would benefit from a specialized diet?

I know for sure they would not benefit from a low quality diet like something made by Purina, hint hint. What is everybody feeding here?

My dog does not eat a specialized diet for small dogs. I feed him a natural diet like healthy table scraps and quality kibble. I frequently cook foods that are both good for me and my dog. I share my meals with him. Being a 15 pound dog, it does not take much to feed him.

This is an advantage of small dog owner ship. we can feed very high quality diets to our dogs and spend less than people with bigger dogs.

I think all dogs benefit from natural diets that lack by-products, food colorings, and un-natural preservatives. I don't think grains are all bad. My dog frequently gets whole grains as treats and I don't think they are bad in his kibble when they are not the primary ingredients.

It's the other crap like food dyes and by-products that really bother me. over time while taking care of Milton I find myself feeding him more whole foods over kibble in general. He's doing really great and his skin problems are no longer present.
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Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 2, '10 1:47pm PST 
In general, small dogs need more food per pound, but less total food because they're so much smaller.

Many, not all, but many, small dogs may benefit from smaller meals more frequently, rather than, say, just two meals a day. Small dogs have smaller stomachs, while at the same time usually needing more food per pound of body weight, so spreading the food out over more meals can be easier on them. Also, toy breeds are at more risk of catastrophic blood sugar drops if their stomachs get too empty. This is much more of an issue with toy breed puppies, but CAN, not will, but CAN be a problem for some small breed adults, too.

There's some debate about protein levels. Beyond saying that most small breed dogs don't need the kind of high-protein, high-energy diet a schutzhund dog or working K9 dog needs, I don't think there's much evidence that this is a real issue. IF your is getting fed an extra-high protein diet, and has a aggression issues, dropping the protein level down a bit might make a difference. Or not. Beyond that, if you're happy with how your dog is doing, and routine exams and blood panels show everything is fine, stick with what you're doing.

Some, not all, but some, smaller dogs like a smaller kibble size. Addy doesn't care, and I don't worry about it, because she chews her kibble in any case. If I had a small dog who tended to swallow his kibble whole, then I'd be more likely to look specifically for small breed kibbles for the kibble portion of the diet.
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Milton

Im just a little- guy
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 2, '10 1:58pm PST 
^^^^^
Lots of good information there, thanks!
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Foxxy

Pocket Wolf
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 2, '10 3:09pm PST 
See, I have a problem with mighty dog and a lot of other canned, pouched, and bagged food is because when I look at the back and see stuff like soy protein, wheat gluten, barley, beet pulp, barley, brewer's rice, coloring, and "beef flavor" or "chicken flavor" I put it right back on the shelf. Some people have a big beef wih corn, but my dogs are chihuahuas, and chihuahuas were bred in a place where corn was a staple part of a dog's diet in the form of tortillas. Foxxy is allergic to soy. Beet pulp is not very nutritious for dogs even though it is nutritious for cows. wheat gluten might make stuff stick, but gluten is the very ingredient that dogs cannot digest that clogs the lining of their small intestines and prevents nutrients from getting through, which exacerbates allergies, GI problems, and a host of other issues. Barley has the same sort of gluten in it, and it is no easier to digest.

WHen I open a can of mighty dog, and I have fed it to her before, I smell salt. No dog food should smell salty. It smells like spam. Lots of canned dog foods smell too salty. Seriously, one can of mighty dog is enough for two meals for foxxy, even though the can says I should be feeding her the whole thing per day.

Anyway. I have a big gripe about purina products because wheat gluten is one of those things that is a protein so it can be counted into the protein content analysis. It's an artificial inflation, because wheat gluten, it does all dogs more harm than good. Melamine in the dog food is what really drove everyone away from purina to begin with, and mighty dog was high on that list of recalls in 2007 for that issue.

I am tired of seeing lamb flavor meals, and then looking on the label to find out thta it's a combination of liver and chicken with lamb flavoring added. If you are going to advertise lamb flavor, there better be lamb protein in there for pity's sake, or goat.

If I was going to give my dogs a canned or bagged meal, I would like to see canned dog food with no added colors or immitation flavors, with grains like quinoa, amaranth, brown rice or tapioca instead of wheat, barley, rye, or brewer's rice, or even to use tubers for bulk, like potatoes and yams or sweet potatoes, or even use pumpkin for fiber. Also kelp and spirulina. spirulina is an algae that is 60% protein and it is a superfood. I feed it to my dogs and I eat it myself. I also feed from either kombu, wakame, or nori seaweed. Seaweed has very digestible fiber, and dogs actually love the flavor. All of these are kelp, and also have awesome amounts of vitamins and minerals.

my concerns with commercial food chiefly lies with nutritional benefit to serving size. I can't shake the feeling that even though portions might come smaller, the kibble's content is no better than for big dogs. I feed a combination of raw and cooked: raw, bone in chicken, raw beef, salmon, whole raw eggs with the shell crushed in, brown rice, carrots, apples, pears, oranges, seaweed, spirulina, goat cheese, sweet potatoes and russet potatoes, and shi itake mushrooms. I only usually cook the mushrooms, rice, salmon, potatoes and sweet potatoes, but everything else is just washed or hydrated and rinsed. It's a diet that makes pure raw feeders cringe, and it's a diet that has too much raw stuff for a home cooker to feel comfortable, but my dogs thrive on it.

The problem is making sure that they're getting their nutrition. On my home prepared diet Foxxy needs to eat about 2oz per day. Taggert needs about 3.5oz. When you're talking about dogs less than 10 lbs, every ounce counts, both on the dog and in the bowl. canned stuff other than Cesar usually comes in 6oz cans at the smallest. Cat food comes in 3oz sizes, but cats are twice as big as either of my dogs, and many are as big as both of my dogs put together! a cup of food is 8 oz. the back of the label on most kibble says I should be feeding 4-8 ounces per day for both of my dogs, and mighty dog says 1 can per 4-5 lbs, and it's 6oz. My dogs need to weigh 6 lbs and 8 lbs. even on 1.8 oz, Foxxy is only slowly losing weight from a plump 7.8 lbs. She's not going to get 6oz of any food, no matter what the label tells me.

So to sum up I guess I think the best diet for my dogs is a raw-ish version of a homecooked diet, and that I am very finicky about the amount of food they get versus how much nutriton is in it.

Edited by author Mon Aug 2, '10 3:24pm PST

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Missy

Miss- Pig!
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 2, '10 3:34pm PST 
There's some debate about protein levels. Beyond saying that most small breed dogs don't need the kind of high-protein, high-energy diet a schutzhund dog or working K9 dog needs, I don't think there's much evidence that this is a real issue. IF your is getting fed an extra-high protein diet, and has a aggression issues, dropping the protein level down a bit might make a difference

That's really interesting Addy, thanks for that. I don't claim to be very knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition and up until a few weeks ago i'll admit i had no idea what protein levels are deemed to high/to low and what dogs should be receiving etc. Their current food is 20% protein which some people in the know told me is to low really but my two do well on their current food and that's all that matters to me.
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Taggert

Semper Vorax
 
 
Barked: Mon Aug 2, '10 3:34pm PST 
Taggert has issues with big kibbles. Big dogs have all of their teeth and a powerful ability to crunch, but Tag has underdeveloped side teeth, and a very weak jaw. He has trouble with any kibble at all, I mean, he really has to try hard to eat hard foods.
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Belle

Will Take you- On!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 4, '10 6:54am PST 
"I am tired of seeing lamb flavor meals, and then looking on the label to find out thta it's a combination of liver and chicken with lamb flavoring added. If you are going to advertise lamb flavor, there better be lamb protein in there for pity's sake, or goat."

This is actually in the AAFCO (and I think FDA as well) guidelines. "Flavor" only means you have to add that flavor, not any of the actual thing itself. Same principal as how I can buy watermelon flavor Jolly Ranchers, and they have no actual watermelon in them at all.

Also, that's VERY important for the owners of dogs with allergies to know! Just because a food states that it is allergen-free, or has a certain protein on the label, does not make it so. For one thing, no two dogs are going to have the same allergies. For another, almost every non-premium dog food on the market contains chicken fat. One of my roommates dogs is extremely allergic to chicken in any form, and she cannot afford to buy premium brands all the time. She struggles to find suitable mid-range foods, even among the "duck formulas" and "lamb and rice dinners."

Even many premium dog foods contain multiple proteins that are not necessary listed on the front of the bag, but overall they are more likely to use single or restricted proteins, especially when marketed as a low allergen formula.

Anyhow, I was about to type this all out, but it's already stated quite nicely at Born Free USA

"The name of the food provides the first indication of the food’s content. The use of the terms “all” or “100%” cannot be used “if the product contains more than one ingredient, not including water sufficient for processing, decharacterizing agents, or trace amounts of preservatives and condiments.”

The “95% Rule” applies when the ingredient(s) derived from animals, poultry, or fish constitutes at least 95% or more of the total weight of the product (or 70% excluding water for processing). Because all-meat diets are not nutritionally balanced and cause severe deficiencies if fed exclusively, they fell out of favor for many years. However, due to rising consumer interest in high quality meat products, several companies are now promoting 95% and 100% canned meats as a supplemental feeding option.

The “dinner” product is defined by the “25% Rule,” which applies when “an ingredient or a combination of ingredients constitutes at least 25% of the weight of the product (excluding water sufficient for processing)”, or at least 10% of the dry matter weight; and a descriptor such as “recipe,” “platter,” “entree,” and “formula.” A combination of ingredients included in the product name is permissible when each ingredient comprises at least 3% of the product weight, excluding water for processing, and the ingredient names appear in descending order by weight.

The “With” rule allows an ingredient name to appear on the label, such as “with real chicken,” as long as each such ingredient constitutes at least 3% of the food by weight, excluding water for processing.

The “flavor” rule allows a food to be designated as a certain flavor as long as the ingredient(s) are sufficient to “impart a distinctive characteristic” to the food. Thus, a “beef flavor” food may contain a small quantity of digest or other extract of tissues from cattle, or even an artificial flavor, without containing any actual beef meat at all."
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SassySue

The devil made- me do it!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 4, '10 8:37am PST 
If you want to start home cooking and feel the need for a "base" to get you started you can try a pre-mix. I've used Dr. Harvey's Canine Health and Veg-to-Bowl (grain-free). You make up the pre-mix by adding hot water. Then you add your own cooked or raw meat, eggs, or fish and an oil (rotating the oils for variety of omega 3 and 6). Dr. Harvey's would be expensive to use with large dogs, but for small is reasonable. Varying the meats that you add gives your dog the different protein sources that are important. I simply buy a little extra of whatever meat or fish I'll be preparing for my family and then cook some of it with no salt or spices. That is mixed with the pre-mix and served to my dogs.
http://www.drharveys.com/products/line/17-dogs
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Rocky

If you don't- claim it, it's- mine!
 
 
Barked: Sat Aug 7, '10 1:36pm PST 
Well Rocky is on the bigger end of small but he gets fed a prey model- raw diet. This includes raw meat and bones and organs. I feed only chicken bones because I feel safer with them as the weight bearing animal bones, such as beef, can be dangerous for their teeth. I have fed beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, goat, duck, and rabbit muscle meat and stick to chicken and beef organs, especially liver, kidney, and lung but I also offer tripe and anything else that comes around. Ratio is roughly about a 80% meat, 15% bone, 5% organ and he gets a fish oil supplement 3x per week as well as raw eggs and sardines on occasion. His allergies have stopped since I started, I rarely brush his pearly whites anymore, he shed out his entire coat and grew a nice shiny one, and no more throwing up clear liquid. I feed him about 10-12 ounces for 22lb of doggie weight. Did I mention only ONE small poop a day and I can live gas free in my house unless he has a tummy upset (THANK GOD). I am in love and a meat buying addict!
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Josie

I\'m all ears!
 
 
Barked: Sat Aug 14, '10 5:57pm PST 
I feed mine(2 papillons and a pom mix; 6, 10, and 10 pounds) a raw prey-model diet.

They are doing FABULOUS on the raw diet. They did good on high-quality holistic kibbles, but I am amazed at the difference the raw diet makes. I'll never feed kibble/canned again.

Edited by author Sat Aug 14, '10 5:58pm PST

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