Not all small dogs have the same nutritional needs. Giving your dog a food specially formulated for her size and activity level is the easiest way to make sure you’re providing complete and balanced nutrition. Here’s how to provide the right nutrition for your small dog.
How to Select a Food for Your Small-breed Dog
Small adult dogs require a food that offers complete nutrients essential for health and vitality. Here’s what to look for:
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for a healthy skin, a shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscles
- A fiber source to promote intestinal health, enhance nutrient absorption and reduce backyard cleanup
- A special carbohydrate blend of select healthy grains to help maintain normal blood sugar levels for sustained energy
These ingredients are the keys to nutrition whether you feed dry or wet dog food or give your dog treats.
Dietary Considerations for Small-Breed Dogs
Small dogs have small mouths and stomachs. You may want to feed your dog a formula with a small bite size for easy chewing. A nutrient-dense food will help make sure she’s absorbing essential nutrients even though her stomach can only accommodate what seems like a small volume of food.
When choosing a food for your small-breed dog, also ask:
- Has she been spayed, is she not getting enough exercise or is she overweight?
- Is she about to have puppies?
- Is she considered mature or senior (7 years or older)?
Special conditions like these dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands.
Controlling Your Small Dog’s Weight
Less-active dogs and dogs who have been neutered or spayed are prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against complications of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-control food, look for these ingredients:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition for Pregnant Small-Breed Dogs
Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it’s important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced small-breed puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Unlike larger dogs that are considered mature at age 5, your small dog can remain on an adult diet until age 7. In fact, small-breed dogs tend to live longer and don’t experience age-related changes as early as bigger dogs. However, it is important to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Small & Toy Breed, so you can help keep your dog healthy and active for years to come.
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How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.
1. The Ingredient Panel
This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.
2. The Guaranteed Analysis
Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the "guaranteed analysis." These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.
3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address
This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.
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