Finding the best dog food that suits your small dog, in particular, is not an easy task. There are many important factors and influences that dog owners must consider when deciding which dog food to get. Cost, nutritional value, amount per package, and of course whether or not their dog will eat the food are several determining factors.
There are a variety of different soft dog foods that small dogs enjoy including both commercial and homemade foods. The best soft dog food for small dogs is a food that can be easily eaten by the dog while also providing the necessary nutritional value.
Many dog owners have different opinions on what is the “best” soft dog food for small dogs. In this article, we will talk about the most recommended soft dog foods and how this diet can be beneficial for your small dog!
Is Soft Food Better for Small Dogs?
A lot of small dog owners wonder if soft food is better than hard food for their dogs. This is a hard decision because we all want the best for our dogs!
The truth is, both hard and soft dog food can provide small dogs with the right nutrition they need; however, soft dog foods are oftentimes catered towards smaller dogs.
Because small dog breeds are tinier than larger breeds, they require more calories in their diet to ensure that they are meeting their dietary needs.
A diet that is specifically aimed toward small dog breeds is typically the best option when considering what to feed your small dog in particular. A lot of times, dog food packages will tell what size dog the food is best for!
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A lot of people will start their dogs on a soft food diet when it is unnecessary. Unless they refuse to eat hard food after the puppy stage or they have dental problems or missing teeth, it is best to keep them on a hard food diet because it helps clean and preserve their teeth.
TIP: It is important to talk with your vet to determine the specific nutritional needs that your dog in particular has!
When to Give a Small Dog Soft Food
For a lot of small dog owners, there are oftentimes questions about when they should start their pup on soft food. This can vary depending on what breed of small dog you have, and whether or not the dog itself is ready to begin a soft food diet!
Puppies will usually begin a soft diet between 3–4 weeks of age and not before. If you see that your dog in particular will be needing to eat a soft diet after the puppy stage, then they can continue to eat soft food.
Some owners worry that their dog may not get the necessary nutrition from eating a soft diet compared to harder foods; however, this is not the case. Soft foods have the same amount of nutrition as hard foods, sometimes even more so. The biggest pro of having your dog on a harder food diet is that it is beneficial for their dental health.
NOTE: Small dog breeds are prone to hypoglycemia, this is why feeding them correctly is very important!
Best Soft Food for Small Dogs
Determining which soft dog food is “best” for small dogs can be very tricky seeing as there are so many options available.
According to small dog owners, the most popular soft dog foods for small dog breeds are Purina Moist & Meaty, Cesar’s wet food, Royal Canin soft sauce canned food, and a variety of mashed or processed human foods.
Small dog owners all agree that the “best” soft dog food depends on each dog. A lot of our pups are picky eaters!
If your dog is used to their hard food but needs to switch to a softer diet, it is recommended to try soaking their hard food in water before serving it to them, this helps soften it up!
Soaking the hard food in water first not only results in better digestion, but your dog will also be consuming extra water, which is always good!
TIP: Mixing soft and dry food is a good way to get your picky dog to eat more soft food, dry food, or hard food depending on what they need!
While there are many soft dog foods available in stores, a large number of small dog owners cook for their pets at home. Some of the most popular things to make are sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, mince, rice, pumpkin from the can, and vegetables!
This is a great option for pets who have missing teeth because it is easy to put these foods in a food processor and mix them with gravy or beef stock to make eating easier for your dog!
While cooking at home is a good option, some dog owners do not have time to prepare meals for their dogs every day. Thankfully, there are many other great options available to provide a soft food diet for your dog!
Here are small breed owners’ most recommended soft dog foods and treats for small breeds, plus their benefits:
- Comes in a variety of flavors
- High protein
- Complete & balanced for all life stages
- No soy or corn!
- Offers a variety of different dog foods and treats including the most popular, “VEG-TO-BOWL,” which is a grain-free dog food pre-mix!
- Freeze-dried which can be shredded into small portions and rehydrated with water.
- Provides protein to your dog while also giving owners the ability to serve the right portions!
- Offers a mix of meat and vegetable options
- Beef mash is a favorite for dogs who need softer foods, this is also offered with the option of potatoes, eggs, carrots, and peas!
- Wet food with lots of variety
- Real veggies
- Very flavorful
- Many options of soft dog food
- Multiple types of sauced canned foods
- Very popular food for the Chihuahua breed
- Many different wet, canned options
- Many different flavors
- Options for all dog ages
- Offers many different soft food options both wet and dry including “Minichunks” which is a pet owner favorite!
- Soft dog foods specifically aimed toward small breeds! (Most owner recommended = Purina “Moist & Meaty“)
- Offers dry and wet soft foods targeted towards certain dog ages and issues such as sensitive stomach and skin!
- Honeycomb design acts like floss for the dog’s teeth
- Soft alternative to harder treats
- Treats come In a variety of sizes (thin, standard, thick, jumbo, and braided)
- No hormones, additives, or chemicals
- Free of allergen ingredients
- Perfect for all dog ages
Small dog owners agree that the best type of dog foods will all meet the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) guidelines which require regulations on dog foods such as food trials and analysis of nutritional value!
Soft Dry Dog Food for Small Dogs/Dogs with Upset Stomachs
While there are more than enough options for small dogs who like or need a soft food diet, there are some pet owner favorites when it comes to dry soft food specifically.
Some of the most recommended soft dry dog foods for small dogs include Purina “Moist & Meaty” or “Dog Chow – Tender and Crunchy,”, Kibbles n’ Bits “original savory,” Rachel Ray “Nutrish,” and Cesar “for small breeds, with gravy!”
All of these soft foods are a good option for pups with upset stomachs; however, if your dog has been experiencing stomach issues and is now stuck with a sensitive stomach, here are some steps you can take to ensure they eat enough and gain the necessary nutrients:
- Mash up sweet potatoes, which can also be served with small bits of plain shredded or chopped chicken.
- Bone broth, canned pumpkin, bland rice, baby food, and anything with electrolytes are best for your dog if their stomach is upset!
- Try mixing softer foods in with dry/harder foods.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of water.
TIP: If your dog’s stomach is upset, it is best to feed them a bland diet until they are back to normal! (This includes low-fat proteins, grains, and minimal sugar!)
Best Soft Dog Foods for Small Senior Dogs/Dogs with No Teeth
Some small breed owners become lost once their dog is older, they have no idea what dog food is best for them. Thankfully, there are a lot of dog foods branded specifically for senior dogs which can help their joints, hips, and their overall health!
The best soft dog food for small senior dogs or dogs with no teeth are foods that are easily chewed, swallowed, and digested. Owners will want to buy food that doesn’t contain chunks and can still offer good nutrition.
Several brands that offer food specifically for small senior dogs include Hill’s science diet, Cesar, IAMS, and NUTRO.
All of these dog foods either offer wet or soft dry foods that oftentimes come in sauces that make the food very soft and easy to swallow/digest — A lot of these senior dog foods will come in cans.
While a lot of small dog owners choose to make homemade food for their dogs who are older or have no teeth, a lot of times small dog owners will also decide to get their dogs pre-made soft dog foods.
This is a great alternative to homemade meals because these foods provide the dog with nutrients, and they normally love the taste too!
Here are some pros and cons of these pre-made brands:
No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
Some are not grain-free
Soft & easy to mash
Cans are smaller so you go through them more quickly
Good for sensitive stomachs
May have to invest in reusable lids (especially for canned food)
May cost more per month
Comes in multi-packs
May cause your dog to have gas
Smells good to dogs
May contain allergens
For small dogs with no teeth, they are unable to chew and swallow hard dog foods. This is why soft, wet, or even a mixture of dry and wet soft foods is the best choice for these dogs!
There are several indications of dental problems that may indicate that your dog needs to be switched to a soft diet, these include:
- Losing teeth
- Resistance to eating crunchy/hard food
- Bad breath
- Blood on chew toys
- Bleeding gums
- Redness or bumps in the mouth
There are also several ways to maintain your dog’s dental health either once you notice they are struggling with their teeth, or even before they develop any dental issues. Some ways to make sure your dogs’ dental health stays in good shape include:
- Good diet
- Chew toys
- Choosing a good toothpaste and brush
- Routine dental check-ups
NOTE: Even if your dog has no teeth, it is important to still brush the gums! Keeping the mouth clean helps prevent any infection or bacteria!
If you notice your dog lose a tooth, don’t worry! Dog’s teeth will fall out because of old age but they will also fall out if they don’t have their teeth cleaned properly throughout their lives.
One small dog owner stated that the key to having good teeth is to have something harder for your dog to chew on from the start of their lives and begin them on hard dog food as soon as they are out of the puppy stage.
TIP: Watch for infections in your dog’s mouth, if they have no teeth, they will be more likely to develop infections in their gums.
How to Read a Dog Food Label
A lot of small dog owners become overwhelmed with the amount of information surrounding the different dog foods available for their pets.
It is important to know what to look for on the dog food label when choosing the correct food for your pup in particular. Some things to keep an eye out for are nutritional value, ingredients, and specific indicators (such as allergens).
The American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests three things to keep in mind when looking at a dog food label:
1. Look for the statement “complete and balanced” – this ensures that at least the minimum amount of nutritional value is met.
2. Check the life stages (i.e., puppy, adult, all life stages) – this makes it easier to determine what is best for your dog, you wouldn’t want to feed your adult dog the food designed for small dog breeds or puppies.
3. Examine the ingredients for any allergens your pet may have – this is very important to ensure that your dog won’t have any reactions to the food
It is important to look for key signals that a company has the dog’s best interest in mind. Looking at the ingredients lists, feeding directions, nutritional value, and doing your research on the company selling the food is very important to ensure you are giving your pup the safest and most beneficial dog food.
TIP: Several nutritional values to check for in your dog’s food are sodium, sugar, and fiber levels.
Read these next: (All about small dog breeds plus their teeth!)
Paws and Learn: Small Breed Teeth — Complete Cleaning Guides (Cleaning, Problems, and More)
Why Does My Shih Tzu Fart So Much? (Stop the Stench!)