All dogs are not created equal – this is a fact that many dog owners do not fully comprehend. Not only do dogs come in all different sizes, colors, and ages but they also have differences in terms of their nutrition. To some degree, a dog is a dog, but if you want your dog to remain in optimal health for as long as possible, you need to cater his diet to meet his unique nutritional needs – this is especially important for smaller dogs. Keep reading to learn about the nutritional requirements for small dogs and to receive tips for feeding your small-breed dog.
The Nutritional Needs of Small-Breed Dogs
Dog food comes in all kinds of shapes and flavors, but every product serves one primary purpose – to provide your dog with energy and nutrition. The energy provided by food is measured in calories, as you may already be aware. What you may not know is that your dog’s need for calories is likely very different from your own – especially if you have a small-breed dog. For example, the average person needs about 2, 000 calories on a daily basis while a small-breed dog like a 10-pound Bichon Frise may only need 400 calories a day. This doesn’t sound like a lot, does it?
Another important thing you need to understand about the calorie needs of small-breed dogs is that they are generally much higher than the calorie needs of large-breed dogs when measured as calories per pound of bodyweight. Consider this – a 100-pound German Shepherd might need something close to 2, 250 calories per day. If you were to divide that out, you would determine that this dog needs about 22.5 calories per pound of bodyweight. Now, think back to that 10-pound Bichon Frise and his 400-daily calorie requirement. If you do the math, that equates to 40 calories per pound of bodyweight. This goes to show you that small-breed dogs need a more energy-rich diet than large-breed dogs and the reason is because their metabolisms are much faster.
In addition to meeting your small-breed dog’s needs for calories, you also have to consider his nutrient requirements. Protein and fat are the two most important nutrients for small-breed dogs. Protein helps your dog to build and maintain lean muscle mass which will also help to protect him against obesity. Fat provides your dog with the energy he needs to fuel his fast metabolism throughout the day. Both of these nutrients should come from high-quality, animal-based sources to ensure optimal bioavailability. In terms of carbohydrate, your dog doesn’t have any specific requirements but they should come from nutritious and digestible sources.
Not only does your dog need protein, fat, and carbohydrate but he also needs vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants are particularly important for smaller dogs as well because they have very long lifespans (up to 20 years) – antioxidants will help to protect your dog against free radical damage throughout his lifetime. Other supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can also be beneficial for small-breed dogs to protect them from arthritis as they get older, though smaller dogs are not quite as prone to joint problems as larger dogs.