If you have a small or toy breed dog you’re in luck – you have more affordable options than those who adopted big dogs, or super active dogs (like I did).
In this guide I’ll cover some really important must do’s (and must don’ts) in the hope your dog has the best life, and best health possible.
Whether I cover it on this page on in the reviews themselves, you know I’ll also tell you what the pet food companies avoid telling you!
What you MUST consider first
In my experience toy and small breed dogs suffer the most from periodontal disease (dental disease) from diet – usually from a diet of wet food brands, or poor quality kibble brands.
A good diet will help, and giving your dog something decent to chew (like raw meaty bones, dried meat chews etc) will help.
Do not rely on dental chews for dental health. These are treats, and you should consider them unhealthy.
This brings me onto the second issue which affects small and toy breeds the most, and that’s too many treats. Particularly the wrong treats.
I know we love to make our dogs feed special, and giving them lots of treats may sound like the right thing, but it isn’t.
If you want to give your dog a treat, either pick a good quality dried (or raw) animal product treat. Avoid treats made of cereals and additives like most are, including those labelled for dental health.
The third issue I want to warn you about is wet foods for supplemental feeding only. A few popular brands of wet food and pate foods have this written in small print where you can’t see it. It means it’s not complete and balanced, so not a proper meal for your dog.
Below I’ll recommend different types of dog food, and after that will give you options for healthy treats as well.
What’s the best small breed dog food in Australia?
I know you want a definite answer, but this is none.
You can feed raw, BARF, air-dried, freeze-dried, kibble (or biscuits if you want the glorified term), or a mixture of all the above. There is no right or wrong answers, only better choices.
Choosing the best food for your small breed pup starts at avoiding the rubbish. By that I mean the majority of kibble’s packaged up in glossy bags and images of glossy pups, which are little more than hard to digest nuggets of wheat for your pet carnivore.
So without too much ado, let’s take a look at your options:
Air & Freeze Dried Foods for Small/Toy Breeds
If you want a fantastic diet with the convenience of kibble, air and freeze dried foods are what you want. Thankfully in Australia we have a few excellent options – tried and tested by many Aussie dog owners (and myself).
These may cost more, but they’re much more nutritious than most dry dog foods, and with a small or toy breed thankfully go a long way (with a long shelf life to boot).
These are my four top picks:
- Frontier Pets – Diana and her team at Frontier Pets pioneered freeze-dried dog food in Australia, showing the sharks on Shark Tank how wrong they can be. The success of Frontier Pets is testament to the quality of their product. It’s a brilliant, highly digestible raw food, which is as easy to feed as putting some in a bowl and adding water.
- Eureka – Many would expect to see ZIWI Peak come second, but over this past year I’ve grown so much appreciation for this Australian Made alternative. The quality of Eureka has already proved itself, and being air-dried is so much more nutritious for your dog. If you can’t stretch to Frontier Pets, stretch to this – at least as part of your dog’s diet.
- Lyka – Lyka is a revelation, and if you can feed this as part of your dog’s diet then you’re onto a winner. Lyka is Hello Fresh for dogs, delivered to your dog as fully prepared meals. It’s slightly cooked but full of nutrition. Some may prepare complete and balanced fresh foods for their dogs at home, but this is a much easier option. Feedback is astounding.
- ZIWI Peak – If you know your stuff with dog food you’ll know how good ZIWI Peak is. Made in New Zealand, it’s a worldwide hit. It’s the best seller in air-dried raw, with animal content almost 100% (like Eureka). There’s been some controversy due to the company being bought by a Chinese investment company, but at the time of writing I haven’t noted any drop in quality. Highly recommended.
The best thing about all these foods is none of them suffer from “big chunks of kibble” sydrome.
If any of the above seem expensive, or if they’re beyond your budget (which is nothing to be ashamed of), then let’s look at dry foods:
Kibbles & Biscuits for Small/Toy Breeds
Many are fooled by breed-specific formulas from big Mars brands like Royal Canin, when what your dog really needs is a meat based diet.
A friend of mine Aussie veterinarian Tom Lonsdale from Raw Meaty Bones reminds us our dogs aren’t furry toys. When we buy a pup we know very little, and it’s easy to assume we should feed them a popular brand of kibble.
Not quite so.
Most kibbles are high-carbohydrates (or sugars), made mostly with wheat, cereals, corn, rice, sorghum, or potato, which you’ll know aren’t very “meat”. Personally I view dogs as carnivores, as this is the better assumption than an omnivore or garbage bin.
Despite our knowledge of what’s healthy for us, pet food marketing is very good at stopping us from considering the nutrition we offer our dogs.
Don’t be fooled.
In Australia we refer to kibble as “biscuits”. Have you ever thought why?
I’ll tell you why – we love biscuits!
They’re a treat for us, and we love to treat our furry toys (or should I say canine tooth wielding meat-eating dogs, even if they’re small).
Enough pre-amble, below are some recommendations for the better end of small breed dog foods, or regular Adult breed dog foods small enough for your small breed. And they won’t be the brands you were expecting like Mars’ budget brand Pedigree, Optimum, or Advance, or Nestle’s popular cereal-based Supercoat or Pro Plan, all boosting small breed formulas.
Top kibble picks:
Wet foods for Small/Toy Breeds
Wet foods are usually a better quality to dry foods, but your small breed dog should not rely on an entirely wet food diet.
Most of the dry dog foods rated highly on this website have an equally good wet food. I haven’t found a brand where this isn’t the case.
If you feed any wet food as a significant part of your dog’s diet, make sure it’s not for supplemental feeding only. These should only be considered tasty treats. They’re not “complete and balanced”.
Raw & Fresh Food for Small/Toy Breeds
A Stark Warning About Treats for Small & Toy Breeds
Treats are small, and most dogs are big in comparison.
Not your small or toy breed though.
Smaller breeds are the most over-fed and over-treated dog breeds, usually with harmful consequences. This is especially the case when fed most of the treats you get in the supermarket, usually wheat, humectant, sugars, colours, and other additives. Not healthy in any form, far worse in excess.
Zoologists use an animals natural food for treats, and this works great for dogs as well. Make them work (or play) for their food – it’s a great boredom buster too!
PLEASE HELP SAVE OUR PETS FROM HARM
In 2018 a popular brand of pet food killed many Australian dogs. It is not the first, or the last time the unregulated Australian pet food industry has failed our pets.
Vincent, pictured above, was one of those dogs.
Once this petition reaches 150,000 it will be one of the most signed on Choice. It will be featured, and publicised.
Hopefully then the Government will take note, as in 2018 they failed.