Different Breed Needs: Learn The Nutritional Differences For Small & Large Breed Dogs

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Dogs are dogs, right? Can’t you just feed the same food to any type of dog, no matter their age, breed, or size. Actually, no! Large and small breeds of dogs have very different nutritional needs.

These needs are about much more than just how much food goes in the dog bowl. In fact, each pet is unique. Your dog will have different dietary needs based on their age, breed, and size.

When searching for the best dog food for your four-legged friend, you want to select a high-quality food and give them the appropriate amount for their size. Too much food can lead to pet obesity, which can cause health problems down the road.

Always check the packaging for information on the proper serving sizes, and make sure to talk to your veterinarian when making decisions about your dog’s diet.

When it comes to nutrition, there are several significant food differences for small dogs versus large breeds, including the kibble’s size, the calories, and the ingredients. Let’s look at what is in your pet’s bowl and why you need to choose a specific food based on your dog’s size.

Pay Attention To The Size Of The Food

Dry food designed for smaller dogs will tend to have smaller pieces than food for large dogs. Smaller pieces will make it easier for them to eat. The little food bits are easier on their tiny jaws and easier for their gastrointestinal systems to digest.

Food for larger breeds will usually have much larger sized pieces. Their jaws are better able to handle the larger nuggets of dry food, and the more significant elements are suitable for their teeth.

Give Your Dog The Right Amount Of Calories

Woman feeding her pet dog training him to wait for his food

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Small dogs with a lot of energy will need more calories per pound of bodyweight than larger dogs. More calories are required to support their energy needs.

From the puppy stage to when they’re in their senior years, smaller dogs will require dog food designed to have the right amount of calories for their active lives. That doesn’t mean they need more food; the serving sizes on the bag will help you know how much to give your pet. Instead, correctly formulated puppy food will have a protein and fat ratio appropriate for your dog.

According to the American Kennel Club, small breed puppies are at risk of low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, because of their high energy. Hypoglycemia occurs because the puppies have high amounts of drive but low body fat. Symptoms of low blood sugar include weakness, lethargy, muscle tremors, and seizures.

Most premium brands of puppy food for small breeds are designed to have the right ingredients to prevent this from happening; although, you should talk to your vet right away if you suspect your puppy has low blood sugar.

On the other hand, large breeds of dogs will eat far larger food quantities, but the food is not as nutritionally dense. The reason is to make sure that larger dogs that are still growing and developing at the proper rate.

As research show on ThePets shows, the dog food for larger breeds has been formulated to help keep your dog at a healthy weight. You want to select dog food with healthy lean proteins and a mix of vegetables, vitamins, and minerals that will help support your dog’s health.

Obesity in dogs is one of the leading causes of health problems, and some estimate that obesity can take as much as two years off your pet’s life.

Nutrition And Ingredients Matter

Yes, even ingredients in dog food are different based on your pet’s size. For example, some food for large breeds will contain extra calcium, which helps with their bone development. Other brands will include supplements that larger breeds may need.

Some dog foods have specific nutrition to help keep the joints of larger dogs healthy and mobile. Others might contain additional fiber, along with pro and prebiotics to help maintain a healthy gut.

Studies have shown that improper nutrition for large breeds of dogs can lead to severe conditions like low bone development, which can cause lameness.

The Life Stage of Your Dog

2-3 months old golden retriever puppy

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Did you know that large and small breeds of dogs mature at different rates? Small dogs reach their physical maturity in about eight months; however, large breeds reach maturity much later, in about 18 months.

At the same time, large puppies grow a lot in those months. Just look at the amount of growth between a tiny teacup Schnauzer puppy versus a Great Dane puppy!

So that means you must choose a well-balanced, appropriate food based on your pet’s age, along with their size. Puppy food for large breeds will be carefully formulated to provide the right nutrition for the proper growth of their bigger bodies.

Food for smaller breed puppies will have the correct calories and nutrition to support their growth. Fortunately, there are small and large breed puppy foods available.

For larger breeds, you want the food to offer complete nourishment, but at the proper rate. Too much food can lead to obesity that extra weight isn’t supported yet by their growing bones. That can lead to problems later in life like hip dysplasia, inflammation issues in cartilage and bone, or issues with the development of their long leg bones.

Puppy food for large breeds will also have a carefully balanced calcium-to-phosphorus ratio to promote bone growth. Larger dogs are particularly predisposed to hip dysplasia, and two of the main culprits are rapid weight gain and excessive amounts of calcium. You want enough to help their bones grow, but not too much to cause overdevelopment.

As your furry companion ages, they will need size appropriate senior food. Both large and small breeds may need food containing supplements to keep their joints healthy in their old years. Another considerations is the amount of fiber. As dog’s age, they are more prone to digestive complaints, and the right amount of fiber can help.

Senior dog foods also tend to use a very digestible protein source, so it doesn’t put too much stress on their liver, yet they will still need protein to help prevent muscle mass loss as they age. Small breeds tend to live longer than huge dogs, so they’ll be in the senior stage for longer. So choosing the right food is very important.

Talk To Your Vet!

Now you know the importance of picking the best food for your dog’s size and life stage.

Some health conditions are genetic, and there’s not much you can do about them. However, you can prevent many health issues in your dog with proper care and nutrition.

If you’re concerned about specific conditions, be sure to talk to your vet. They can assist you with any questions you might have regarding food and your furry family member’s care.

Do you pay attention to your dog’s size when picking out their food? What kinds of healthy foods does your dog love? Let us know in the comments below!

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