The 5 Best Dog Foods in 2021 for Small Dogs – Size Does Matter


We’ll let you in straight away on our heads up for the best food for Small Dogs… We vote resoundingly for  Redbarn Naturals Semi-Moist Chicken Recipe!

Small dogs have different nutritional needs than large dogs because they generally have a faster metabolism. 

If fed dry food, they also need smaller kibbles that they can easily consume. 

In addition, many small dog breeds have a weakness for dental problems.  Choosing the best dog food for small dogs may be able to prevent critical tooth loss.

Our Top 5 Picks!

  • (Our Full Review is further down. Click on the links above for current prices or to read customer reviews)

What Kind of Food Should I Select for my Small Dog? 

Prior to the 1950’s, dogs were fed home-made meals, canned horse-meat (Eew!!), table scraps, and the like… 


“Many people of course think of dry kibble when they think about dog food, but dry kibble was only invented in the 1950’s!”

We don’t recommend resuming such feeding practices since they tend to result in diets lacking in important nutrients.

And it’s just gross.  

Nowadays you can easily find high-quality, well-balanced foods that are not dry kibble:

  • Pre-made raw diets that are frozen or freeze-dried 
  • Fresh semi-moist diets out of the refrigerated section of the grocery or pet store
  • Canned diets

Advantages of non-kibble diets for Our “T-For-Tiny”-Rex!

 Owners of large dogs often have to default to feeding dry kibble due to its lower cost.

  •  One major advantage of owning a small dog is that it is possible for the average small dog owner to afford a diet that isn’t based on dry kibble. 
  • There is nothing wrong with feeding a high-quality dry kibble, but there are many health advantages to feeding other types of diets.
  •  Dogs are biologically carnivores and thrive when fed a meat-based diet, and most dry kibble diets are based on grains, potatoes, or legumes, not meat.
  • Think T-Rex. T for Tiny.

Kibble Size

 A major difference between large dogs and small dogs is, obviously, the size and strength of their jaws. 

Most kibbles are designed with large dogs in mind. No fair! Generally, dogs don’t chew kibble and just swallow it whole. 


“Unlike humans, dogs don’t have crushing/grinding molars and many small dogs struggle to eat large kibbles”. 

However, when a small dog is fed a bowl of large kibbles, they can’t do that and actually have to try to chew them! Awkward…

Dogs won’t have these problems if a non-kibble diet is selected or if a kibble specifically designed for small dogs is chosen.

Teeth Trouble

Unfortunately, a lot of small dog breeds suffer from a tendency to develop plaque and gum disease. This can lead to the need to extract multiple teeth over the dog’s lifetime. Ow!!

Dog food manufacturers like to claim that chewing on kibble cleans the teeth…  But in actual fact the high carbohydrate content of most dry dog foods is what causes plaque in the first place! 

So choosing a high-meat low-carb diet for your small dog can help preserve his teeth. Poor guy.

Having a Metabolism Moment

  • In general, most (but not all) small dogs have a very high metabolism.  
  • Small dogs usually need more calories per pound of the dog food than large dogs do. 
  • Small dogs also have small stomachs!  So it is best to choose a diet that has a fairly high-calorie content per cup. 
  • However, a few breeds, such as beagles and pugs, are air ferns and fatten up rapidly!  These little guys need a low carbohydrate and low caloric density diets to avoid those cute round puppy bellies.



We searched the Internet and sorted through stacks of customer reviews just to assist you in selecting one for your small but feisty canine! 

Here they are…

1. Redbarn Naturals Semi-Moist Chicken Recipe – OUR RATING 5 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

 Redbarn produces a number of semi-moist meat-based diets. These products can be found in the refrigerated sections of many grocery and pet stores.

They come in solid rolls and in a kibble-like lump formulation. All of their products are an excellent choice for small dogs, but we will focus on the Chicken recipe in this review.

This product comes in soft, easily devoured lumps that actually do clean the dog’s teeth while it eats it. The ingredients are super simple and straightforward, pretty much just Chicken, liver, some vegetables, and added vitamins and minerals.

A small dog will need anywhere from 1/2 cup to 2 cups a day of this food, depending on its size, activity level, and individual metabolism.

It should be kept in the refrigerator, but for feeding, all you do is pour the needed amount into the dog’s bowl.

Most dogs think this food is incredibly delicious and some people use it as training treats for this reason! Yum.


  • Meat-based
  • Healthy, simple ingredients
  • Cleans teeth
  • Easy to consume
  • Delicious


  • Needs to be kept in the fridge
  • Needs to be purchased once a week

2.Stella and Chewy Raw Duck Duck Goose Dinner Patties OUR RATING 4 3/4 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

 Stella and Chewy is a brand that makes a number of different products, mostly based on the prey model raw diet concept. We will focus on their raw Duck Duck Goose product in this review.

It comes in a frozen wet form and also as a freeze-dried form; both are super tasty for dogs. The freeze-dried form can be stored at room temperature for a long period of time and is very easy to feed while the frozen form needs to be stored in a freezer and thawed out before feeding.

Stella and Chewy can be found in many high-end pet stores. The Duck Duck Goose product comes in small or large patties; obviously, the small patties are ideal for small dogs.

It is made out of duck, goose, and turkey, some vegetables, and added vitamins and minerals. It is very high in protein and is free from grains, potatoes, and legumes.


  • Meat-based
  • Very tasty and easy to consume
  • Cleans teeth!
  • No factory farmed animals are used
  • Grain, potato, and legume free


  • The frozen version needs to be kept in a freezer and thawed before feeding
  • The freeze-dried version needs to be soaked in water before feeding

3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Small Breed Adult Chicken OUR RATING 4 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

Purina is surprisingly affordable considering its high-quality ingredients. The brand includes canned and dry kibble; we will focus on their dry chicken formula in this review.

The kibbles are small and easily consumed by small dogs. The ingredients are simple, chicken and rice. It is fairly high in protein and has a reasonable level of fat and carbohydrates.


  • Economical
  • Meat-based
  • Simple ingredients


  • Some small Dog owners reported loose stools or allergic reactions.

4.Taste of the Wild Canned High Prairie Flavour OUR RATING 3 1/2 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

 Taste of the Wild produces a line of very popular dry kibble, but it also makes quality canned foods. They have several different flavors available in their canned food line; we will focus on the High Prairie flavor.

It is made out of beef, lamb, and bison, and comes in very tasty and easily consumed chunks in gravy.

The product is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. It is grain free, but does contain small amounts of peas and potatoes.

It comes in the standard cans and a small dog would need 1/4 to 2 cans per day depending on the dog’s size, activity level, and metabolism.


  • Meat-based
  • Tasty and easily consumed
  • Cleans teeth
  • Contains antioxidants from berries


  • Comes in cans that need to be recycled
  • Contains potatoes and peas

5. Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Chicken and Sweet potato Kibble OUR RATING 3 1/2 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy (Puppy Kibble)

Merrick makes a very large number of high-quality pet food products, but here we are only going to discuss their Small Breed kibble. This kibble is specifically designed for dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds. The kibbles are very small and easy for small dogs to consume.

The product primarily contains chicken, turkey, sweet potato, rice, and barley. It has reasonable levels of protein and fat and is potato and legume-free. It can be found in most pet stores.


  • Specifically designed for small dogs!
  • High calorie content per cup
  • Potato and legume-free


  • Contains multiple protein sources and multiple carb sources, including pea protein.

 So here’s our Winner!

Our Clear Pick of the Best Dog Food For Small Dogs is…

  1. Redbarn Naturals Semi-Moist Chicken Recipe OUR RATING 5 stars Click for price on Amazon / Click for price on Chewy

Redbarn Naturals Semi-Moist Chicken Recipe is our clear winner:

  • Meat-based for your T-for-Tiny T-Rex! 
  • Simple yet healthy ingredients 
  • Soft and easy for small dogs to eat
  • Dental-friendly for small dogs – Very low in carbs and calling for the teeth to slice through the semi-moist pieces while eating 
  • Most dogs love the taste and after carefully adjusting the amount you feed it is suitable for both air-fern small dogs and high metabolism small dogs. 
  • It does have the minor cons of needing to be kept refrigerated and will need to be bought weekly.

THE TAIL END… Size does matter.

Let’s care for our small doggy friends by giving them only the best!
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