Small breed dogs have speedy metabolisms while they’re growing and they need sufficient calories.
Because of their high energy needs, these small pups can be prone to hypoglycemia if they aren’t getting enough food, or food with enough built-in calories — especially when they are under three months old and haven’t developed the ability to regulate blood glucose levels. Pups that have poor nutrition, cold environments, or parasites are particularly prone to hypoglycemia.
“Young animals, in general, do not have the energy stores yet developed that adult animals have, allowing them to maintain adequate blood glucose (BG) in times of fasting or stress,” according to Metropolitan Veterinary Associates (MVA). “Small breed puppies are at an even greater disadvantage because they have a relatively higher metabolic rate and energy requirement per unit body mass than larger breed puppies.”
MVA states that a hypoglycemic puppy is always an emergency requiring a trip to the vet.
Symptoms include lethargy, muscle twitching, loss of appetite, trembling, lack of coordination, unusual behavior, and blindness.
To help prevent this scary situation, look for a small breed puppy food that is more calorie-dense than regular puppy food. Small breed puppies have small tummies, so they need high calories in a few bites and they should be fed multiple times throughout the day. Their food should be higher in protein and fats when compared to other puppy food.
The other benefit of a small breed puppy food is the kibble should be more appropriately sized — perfect for tiny puppy mouths. Alternatively, canned or wet food with high water content may be a good option. It’s also easy to chew, so it’s easy on those little puppy teeth.
High-quality proteins are always important. Avoid by-products and fillers and keep track of what your small pup is eating in case it has food sensitivities, which can be extremely hard on small dogs’ digestive systems. Small dogs can become dangerously and rapidly dehydrated if they have diarrhea. It’s important to find a food that doesn’t upset your small breed puppy’s tummy and to ensure it gets enough water.
Calcium to phosphorus ratio different from what is required for a large breed puppy. Look for something between 1.2:1 and 1.4:1 of calcium to phosphorous.
When it comes to treats for small breeds, look for something appropriately sized. Only about five percent of overall calories should come from treats. Veggies like carrots or green beans provide crunch and low calories.
Small breed puppies are cute but potentially high maintenance — for example, fleas may not do much but cause itching for a larger dog, but small dogs can’t afford blood loss.
Generally, small breed puppies reach 80 percent of their adult size by nine to 10 months old. Then, it’s adult dog food time! Otherwise, your dog may run the risk of becoming overweight because of the nutritional density of small breed puppy food. Vets, breeders, and dog nutritionists can provide advice on what to feed your puppy and when to switch it over to adult food.