Meals for Small Mutts
By June Jackson
Not all small dogs have the same nutritional needs. Giving your dog a food that is specially formulated for its size and activity level is the easiest way to make sure it's getting complete and balanced nutrition. Here are some ways to ensure that your little dynamo is getting just the right type and amount of food.
A Small Request
Small dogs have small mouths and stomachs. You may therefore want to feed your dog a formula with a small bite size for easy chewing. A nutrient-dense food will help make sure it is absorbing essential nutrients even though its stomach can only accommodate what seems like a small volume of food.
If you have a male dog, has he been neutered? Is he not getting enough exercise? Or do you have a female pooch that is about to have puppies? Special conditions like these dramatically affect your dog's nutritional demands.
Pregnant dogs have awesomely large nutrition requirements (no, not pickles and ice cream). Complete and balanced puppy food can give pregnant and lactating dogs the extra nutrients they need.
Less active dogs, or dogs that 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 do 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 and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Selecting a Food
Small adult dogs require foods that offer complete nutrients essential for health and vitality:
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for a healthy skin, shine 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
- Special carbohydrate blend of select healthy grains to help maintain normal blood sugar levels for sustained energy
These ingredients are the keys to adult nutrition whether you feed dry or canned dog food or provide treats
Switching to a Mature Diet
Unlike larger dogs that are considered mature at age five or six, your small dog can remain on an adult diet until age seven. In fact, small-breed dogs tend to live longer and don't experience age-related changes as early as bigger dogs do. But it is critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet so you can help keep your dog healthy and active for years to come.
June Jackson is a freelancer who regularly writes about pets. Her work can be seen in magazines and newspapers nationwide.