While toy dogs like Chihuahuas and other small breeds such as the Jack Russell terrier are usually significantly cheaper to feed than larger dogs that eat huge amounts of food, feeding little dogs is not without its challenges. Smaller dogs are often more prone to sensitivities and fussiness over their food than larger dogs, and of course, many of the standard one size fits all dog food offerings are simply too large for small mouths to handle! The day-to-day routine of feeding a smaller dog shouldn’t be a challenge once you get going and have established how to go about things, but it is important to ensure that you are feeding your smaller dog appropriately, and in the way that suits them best. Read on for our advice.
It is of course vital to feed your small dog proper dog food, and not treat them like babies and feed them mainly on table scraps or human food. To feed a dog solely on food intended for humans is generally highly unsuitable for them, unless you are prepared to spend a significant amount of time learning about canine nutrition and making up your own canine-specific meals to suit your dog’s exact requirements.
Dog food of all types comes in a wide variety of options, including food for life stage and specific nutritional requirements, and food tailored to the needs of specific breeds and types of dogs. Even supermarkets usually stock a wide range of different dog foods, including foods designed especially for small dogs that contains the right balance of ingredients to meet all of their nutritional requirements.
It is important to monitor how much food your dog is given in relation to their size and activity levels, and the guidelines often marked on food about how much to feed in relation to the size of your dog is a good start. But remember that this information is only a guideline, not the word of law, and that you tailor exactly how much you feed to your dog based on their exact requirements. Different dogs have different appetites, even within the same breed, and while one dog may thrive on a certain amount of food per day, for another dog of the same type and weight, this may prove to be too much or too little. Weigh your little dog regularly and adjust their calorie intake as required to fulfil their needs.
It is not recommended to only feed your dog once a day, regardless of their size, but this is particularly true for smaller dogs who only have little stomachs! Your little dog’s food rations should be divided into at least two separate meals per day, and possibly even three or four, particularly when they are young or if they are very small. Little dogs are more prone to the effects of peaks and troughs in blood sugar than most larger dogs, so keeping them fuelled up throughout the day is important to keep them well and healthy.
Buying a top quality, premium dog food for your little dog is great, but will be totally wasted on your dog if the food chunks themselves are too small for them to eat comfortably! The kibble or meat chunks that you feed to your dog should be significantly smaller than mainstream dog foods aimed at standard sized dogs, and of an appropriate size for them to be able to pick up and chew comfortably.
Your dog should be able to know when to expect their food, so set mealtimes for them and stick to them. Your dog’s meals should be staggered and spread out over the course of the day, and your dog’s metabolism will synchronise with the feeding pattern that it gets used to, so it is important to stick to your routine and do everything that you can to avoid breaking it. If you do need to make changes to your dog’s feeding schedule, do this gradually over time to allow your dog to get used to the change. The same goes if you wish to change them onto a different food; phase it into your dog’s meals gradually, rather than changing immediately from one food to another.
At different times in your little dog’s life, they will have different nutritional requirements, and it is important that the way you feed them is a good fit for this. Puppies under one year old should be fed an appropriate small breed puppy food, and adult dogs up to around seven or eight years old should be fed a food for a healthy adult dog. Once your dog reaches maturity, they should be changed over onto a food tailored to meet the needs of the aging dog.