Can You Feed A Large Dog Small Breed Food? [And Vice Versa]

Can You Feed A Large Dog Small Breed Food and vice versa

Many dog parents struggle to figure out whether it is wrong to feed small dogs large breed dog food and vise versa.

Because mistakes can happen. I mean, you may have bought the wrong dog food.

That being said, can you feed a small dog large breed food, or can you feed a large dog small dog food?

Let’s figure out everything through this complete guide.

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What are the specialties of small and large dog foods?

Understanding the differences and specialties of small and large dog breed foods is so important in order to observe your concern.

So let’s understand the essential points you need to know.

Small dog breed foods.

Here are some things you need to know when preparing a meal plan for a small dog breed.

  • Small dogs tend to have a much faster metabolism rate.
  • Their diet should contain high-calorie foods.
  • Another concern is overfeeding makes them overweight pretty much fast.
  • Food size should be small. For instance, Kibbles should be small in size.
  • Small dog breeds are prone to dental and gastrointestinal issues. So, this should be considered when preparing a diet plan for them.
  • Some small breeds require more frequent feeding.

Large dog breed foods.

We have to consider the following things when preparing a diet plan for our large dog.

  • In general, large dogs are heavy and require maintaining their bones healthy and strong to function well. So, the foods must contain ingredients that make their bones stronger and healthier.
  • Foods for large dogs should be less energy-dense compared to smaller dog breed foods.
  • Foods designed for large breeds must contain enough Glucosamine, prebiotics, fiber blends, and the correct amount of minerals, vitamins, protein.
  • Since large breeds are more prone to joint problems, the diet should support keeping the joints healthy.

I agree; this is not a piece of information that covers all the specialties of small dog breed foods and large dog breed foods.

But my intention was to emphasize to you that there are many differences in dog food between these two categories of dog breeds.

Can you feed a small dog large breed dog food?

This is a common issue among small dog parents. Well, it depends on the situation.

That means large breed formulas aren’t appropriate for small breeds whatsoever.

However, in the short term, it won’t hurt your small dog at all (assuming the dog is completely healthy.). But, It certainly causes troubles in the long run.

As I mentioned earlier, Ingredients contained in both of these dog formulas are responsible for specific tasks. However, the ingredients are almost identical in both small and large dog breed foods.

The main difference is the nutritional content.

Things to consider when feeding small dogs large breed dog food

Of course, you cannot just feed a small dog large breed formulas. There are certain things to consider.

1. Kibbles are larger

Usually, the kibbles in large breed formulas are much bigger; therefore, this kibble can be a little bit large and increases the likelihood of choking hazards.

However, they can still bite these kibbles if they aren’t too big. So, having small bits of food makes it easier for them to chew and eat.

If you can make those large kibbles into small pieces, that will definitely aid the eating. When fragmented kibble is mixed with saliva, it will help with digestion. So, no gulping attacks.

2. Less Calcium & phosphorus levels

In general, if a dog food is labeled as large breed formula, they include the lowered amount of phosphorus and calcium intention of slow down the growth rate of large breeds.

The more calcium and phosphorus dense, the faster the joint growth in large dog breeds. Having a small amount of those two components cause less growth rate, so they won’t develop poor joint problems.

Not only calcium and phosphorus (often the fat content), overall large breed formulas tend to be less nutrient-dense.

Suggested Readings: Why do some Miniature schnauzers are picky eaters?

3. Less kcal content in large breed formulas.

This is another huge difference. The kcal content is much lower in large breed dog foods compared to small breed formulas.

Having less amount of kcal content is significantly important in order to weight management in large breeds.

So, you will end up feeding more large breed food to your small loving pooch to fill him up.

Although small dogs can eat large dog food for a short time, it may cause troubles in the long run due to the low Calcium and Phosphorus content, difficulty of eating large food pieces. Crumbling or soften the food before feeding, exchanging it with someone, returning, or donating are solutions.

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What to do if you accidentally bought large breed dog food?

It is a natural phenomenon for people to make mistakes.

It is not really uncommon for dog parents to accidentally buy a large breed of dog food instead of small dog food, or you may own both small and large dogs and may be wondering what type to buy.

It doesn’t matter what the reason is; here are some of the things to consider when you get a large breed dog food.

1. Crumble the food.

As I mentioned earlier, large breed kibbles are much bigger, and there is a possibility of choking.

So, simply use a rolling pin to crumble the food into small pieces. Even though the nutritional content is slightly different, it won’t do any harm in the short term. (Assuming the dog is healthy)

2. Soften the food.

Another possible thing you can do is soften the food. Crumbling isn’t necessary here. Just add some boiling water to the bowl, then mush it up using a fork.

However, just one thing to note here though. Boiling water tends to ruin the food. So, consider adding warm water in order to add moisture.

Usually, the hotter the water is, the quicker it will soften the food. But, ensure to cool the food down prior to serving.

3. Exchange with someone.

Exchanging the large dog food to small dog food with someone who owns both large and small dogs is another thing you can consider.

But, one thing to note here. If you don’t fully trust the person, never attempt to exchange it for an opened bag.

4. Check the stools.

Once your small dog starts to continue with the large breed formula, take a movement to check if the stools are unusual.

You need to observe the color, content, coating, and consistency in order to tell if stools are completely healthy.

5. Return.

If you are unhappy after reading this, consider returning the product and ask for a refund.

6. Donate it.

If you got a large breed of dog food and you are reluctant to feed your small dog, just donate it to a shelter.

Yes, it will cost you some money. But it is a good sign of humanity, and in the end, you will get something that can make you happy by quenching the hunger of a poor dog.

Suggested Reading: Does Dry Food/Kibble Make Dogs Thirsty?

Can you feed a large dog small breed dog food?

Now let’s discuss feeding a large dog small breed formula. Is it okay to do?

Feeding a large dog small dog food isn’t a problem in the short term. However, it does make trouble in the long run.

Therefore doing this once in a while is not a big deal. (assuming your dog is healthy)

Things to consider when feeding large dogs small breed dog food.

There are certain things that need to be considered before doing this. Please take a look at the following.

1. Different nutritional content.

As I mentioned earlier, small breed formula contains a higher content of Calcium, Phosphorus, fat, and other several essential constituents.

Some constituents are leading the job of controlling the growth rate, especially Calcium and Phosphorus.

Since large breeds tend to grow rapidly with the high content of these mentioned ingredients, the large breed formulas have taken it into account and produced appropriate formulas just for the large breeds.

The higher the growth rate in large dogs, it will increase the likelihood of joint issues.

So, that’s why it’s a bit risky to feed your large dog small breed food for a long time. Doing that seldom is Okay, but not 100%.

By the way, if you own a Doberman, please read this article to understand what foods Dobermans can and can’t eat.

2. They may eat fast or swallow.

In general, big canines have pretty much larger teeth, and they use them to chew and crunch the kibbles while keeping tarter from forming quickly.

With regards to small kibbles, your large dog may swallow whole without taking time to chew. That might be causing a lot of problems.

Here are some of the problems that may arise by swallowing kibbles.

  • Bloat.
  • Taking excess air to the body could cause stomach twisting or swelling.
  • Vomiting.
  • Choking.
  • Hiccups.
  • Regurgitation.
  • May increase the food aggression.

Although large dogs can eat small dog food, high Calcium and Phosphorus content may cause health issues in the long run, like joint issues. Besides that, they will eat fast and swallow, causing an increased likelihood of bloat. Try to slow down the dog’s eating, exchanging, returning the food bag.

Lovely Puppies

What to do if you accidentally bought small breed dog food?

If you accidentally bought a small breed dog food for your large dog, What do you really need to do?

Here are several things worth considering.

1. Slow down dog’s eating.

As I mentioned earlier, large dogs tend to eat pretty much fast and swallow small kibbles. So, try to do something to slow down this eating.

Here are a few suggestions.

  • Put a tennis ball in the food bowl, and it will cause your dog to move it around to eat.
  • Use a slow feeder food bowl.
  • Frequent meals.
  • Provide chew toys.

2. Call the vet.

As I mentioned earlier, eating small breed formulas may be caused too rapid growth in large dogs. So, if your large dog isn’t healthy, overweight, or has joint issues, please consider calling your vet prior to feeding the dog.

3. Exchange with someone.

If you accidentally got small dog food for your large dog, consider exchanging it with someone who owns both small and large dogs.

As I mentioned earlier, don’t exchange your food bag for an opened food bag.

4. Return it.

If you feel feeding your large dog small dog food isn’t appropriate, consider returning it and asking for a refund.

5. Donate it.

If you decide not to use this small dog food bag, please donate it to a shelter.

Things to be aware of.

In addition to all of the information, facts described above, there are a few things you need to know.

Buy high-quality food:  What’s far more important is buying high-quality food. Moreover, look at the reviews if you’re buying it online.

Look at the calories content: If you accidentally bought the wrong dog food, please look at the calorie content of the new food bag. Then look at how many celeries you were feeding your loving pooch prior to this. Then, use simple math to balance the daily calorie intake. Because you cannot simply measure it from the food bowl. Certainly, you won’t be able to control the amount of other constituents. So, don’t repeat this mistake.

Observe the dog: Don’t forget to observe your dog after starting feeding the wrong breed formula. Because dogs cannot adapt to a completely new formula straight away. It’s a gradual process and requires some time. Moreover, keep your eye on the dog if it exhibits unusual pooping habits.

Call your vet: Certainty, you don’t wanna meet the vet. Just give a call to your friendly veterinarian or Nutritionist.


Many dog parents (including me) have at some point purchased the wrong food formula for their dogs. So, through the complete guide, we’ve discussed whether small dogs can eat large dog foods and large dogs can eat small dog foods. Hope you found this helpful. Cheers.

Friendly Reminder: Please take a movement to share your thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comment section as it will certainly help future readers.

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