6 Best Papillon Dog Food Plus Top Brands for Puppies & Seniors

Though they may not be the most common breed around, Papillons are certainly one of the easiest to recognize with their big, erect, fur-covered ears.

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The Papillon is named for the French word for butterfly, though he is also known as the Continental Toy Spaniel. These dogs are one of the oldest toy spaniel breeds, developed in Italy sometime during the 1500s, though the erect ear style didn’t become popular until the 19th century. Throughout its history, however, one thing has remained constant about the Papillon – he is an excellent companion pet.

As a toy breed, Papillons remain very small – they stand no more than 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 3 and 12 pounds at maturity. Though these dogs may reach their adult size very quickly, they take a little longer than other breeds to mentally mature. This could in part be due to the fact that they have a long lifespan of up to 17 years, or it could be their propensity for health problems.

The Papillon is a fun and friendly breed, guaranteed to keep you entertained, but his long coat and high risk for health problems does present certain challenges. Feeding your dog a high-quality diet will help keep him healthy, so take the time to make a smart choice.

Keep reading to learn more about your Papillon’s dietary requirements and to see our top 15 picks for the 2021 best dog food for Papillon.

What is the Best Papillon Dog Food?

Understanding a Papillon’s Diet Requirements

All dogs have the same general requirements for nutrients in their diet. Protein is the most important nutrient and it provides the building blocks for strong muscles and lean mass. It should come from animal-based sources because your dog is primarily carnivorous and his body is better able to digest and absorb nutrients from animal sources than from plant sources. Fats should also come from animal sources and they provide a concentrated source of energy for your Papillon.

Dogs do not have any specific requirements for carbohydrates in their diet other than that they are digestible. Whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes provide dietary fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. In fact, fresh vegetables and fruits are an excellent inclusion in dog food because they provide natural sources for key nutrients. Your dog’s food will still contain synthetic supplements to ensure nutritional balance, but natural sources are more biologically valuable.

  • Puppy Papillon Diet – As a puppy, your Papillon requires a minimum of 22% protein and 8% fat in his diet. Higher fat content means more calories, however, which equates to more energy and more fuel for your puppy’s growth and development. Just as important as the calorie content of your puppy’s food, however, is how often you feed them – Papillon puppies need to eat frequently to prevent hypoglycemia which can be very dangerous, even fatal.
  • Adult Papillon Diet – As an adult, your Papillon needs a minimum of 18% protein and 5% fat, though more is always better for both of these nutrients. The more fat in your dog’s diet, the more calories he gets to fuel his fast metabolism and more protein means more lean muscle mass. Feeding your dog a toy- or small-breed formula will ensure that he gets the right nutrients in the right ratio.
  • Senior Papillon Diet – When your Papillon reaches seniority around 7 to 9 years, his metabolism may slow down a little but he will still need a steady influx of energy and protein in his diet. You might need to reduce his daily portion a little or you can switch to a senior recipe for small breeds.

In addition to protein, fat, and carbohydrate your dog’s diet should include beneficial supplements. Chelated minerals are mineral supplements that have been chemically bound to protein molecules which makes them easier for your dog’s body to digest and absorb. Other beneficial supplements include joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin as well as prebiotics and probiotics for healthy and regular digestion.

Special Dietary Considerations for Papillons

Generally speaking, the Papillon is a healthy breed with a long lifespan ranging from 13 to 18 years. These dogs have very high needs for exercise which also means they need a lot of calories in their diet. The quality of their diet plays a role in determining their long-term health and wellness as well, and it may impact some of the health problems to which the breed is prone.

Here is a quick list of the health problems to which the Papillon may be prone:

  • Collapsing Trachea
  • Deafness
  • Dental Problems
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Open Fontanel
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Reverse Sneezing
  • Urinary Stones

Many of the health problems known to affect the Papillon breed are common in other toy dogs as well. For example, dental problems are very common among toy breeds because their mouths are so small. One way to support your dog’s dental health is to feed him a dry food rather than a wet food. Crunchy kibbles help keep your dog’s teeth clean by scraping plaque and tartar off the surface while wet food tends to get stuck between the teeth.

Papillons are also prone to some musculoskeletal issues and inherited health problems. Patellar luxation is a condition in which the patella or kneecap slips out of place and it can lead to joint damage and lameness. Maintaining a healthy body weight and choosing a dog food that contains joint-supporting nutrients may help prevent this disease from progressing. A healthy body weight is also beneficial for Papillons that have hypoglycemia or hypothyroidism.

In terms of inherited health conditions that affect the Papillon breed, deafness is one and open fontanel is another. An open fontanel is simply a soft spot on the top of the head that should close as the puppy develops but sometimes remains open – a blow to this area could be fatal. Inherited deafness is most commonly seen in Papillons that have a lot of white fur on their heads. Some Papillon puppies also inherit a condition called neuroaxonal dystrophy which is untreatable and progressive – most puppies do not survive past a few months of age.

Papillon Feeding Chart

When your Papillon is a puppy, it is extremely important that you feed him often. Puppies are prone to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar and it can be fatal if not treated. Symptoms of hypoglycemia in puppies include lethargy, listlessness, and trembling or shivering. To prevent this from happening, feed your Papillon puppy four small meals a day and refer to the feeding instructions on the package to determine the total volume of food per day.

Once your Papillon reaches adulthood, his risk for hypoglycemic goes down but he still needs a steady influx of energy to support his fast metabolism. Some dogs do well on three meals per while more active dogs may require four meals. Again, refer to the feeding instructions on the package to see how much to feed your dog per day then divide it by the total number of meals.

Feeding your Papillon a toy- or small-breed recipe is very important because these products are calorie-dense to support a fast metabolism. Choose a toy- or small-breed puppy food for your Papillon puppy then switch to an adult toy- or small-breed recipe after 8 to 12 months. When your Papillon reaches senior status around 7 to 9 years, he may slow down a bit or he might not, so pay attention to his body weight and activity level to see whether you need to adjust his diet.

The Best Dog Food for Papillon: Our Top 15 Picks for 2021

Now that you have a better understanding of your Papillon’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for the best Papillon diet. The best dog food for Papillons is calorie-dense and rich in protein to support lean muscle mass and to fuel your dog’s fast metabolism. It should also be made with high-quality ingredients to ensure digestibility and contain beneficial supplements for nutritional balance. Here are our top 15 picks:

Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Adult Anchovy, Sardine & Chicken Meal Recipe

Overall Best Food for Papillons: If you’re looking for a high-quality diet for your Papillon that will meet his energy requirements in addition to providing plenty of protein, consider this Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Adult Anchovy, Sardine & Chicken Meal Recipe. This formula features several sources of animal protein with nutrient-rich chicken fat as a healthy source of essential fatty acids. It contains a whopping 35% protein and 16% fat which is an ideal ratio for toy breeds like your Papillon and it is all-natural, made with no artificial additives or low-quality fillers. Plus, it contains probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: Several sources of animal protein, highly digestible, grain-free carbohydrates, nutrient-rich chicken fat, 35% protein and 16% fat, fresh fruits and veggies, probiotic supplements
  • Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet, some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Small Breed Salmon & Whitefish Recipe

Most Affordable Food: For a decent quality dog food that won’t break the bank, try this Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Small Breed Salmon & Whitefish Recipe. This formula is designed for small breeds and it contains 26% protein and 13% fat. It features salmon meal as the primary ingredient which is not just a source of healthy protein, it also contains beneficial omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. This recipe is supplemented with digestible grain-free carbohydrates as well as chelated minerals and probiotics. It is all-natural as well and free from low-quality fillers and artificial additives.

  • Pros: Protein-rich salmon meal as first ingredient, rich in omega fatty acids, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, nutrient-rich chicken fat, chelated minerals, probiotic supplements
  • Cons: May be too high in fiber for some dogs, some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe

Most Popular Food: If you’re not sure what kind of food to get your Papillon, try a popular option like this Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe. This formula features real venison as the first ingredient with digestible carbohydrates like garbanzo beans, peas, and lentils. It is uniquely formulated for small breeds, offering a full 32% protein and 18% fat to meet your dog’s needs for protein and energy. It contains plenty of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat plus antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies for healthy immunity. It also contains chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption as well as probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: Formulated for small breeds, all-natural and grain-free, low risk for food allergies, real venison first ingredient, several supplemental proteins, rich in healthy fats, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), first source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

Nature’s Variety Instant Raw Boost Toy Breed Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

Super Premium Food: For a super-premium dog food that nourishes your Papillon’s body with healthy ingredients, try this Nature’s Variety Instant Raw Boost Toy Breed Grain-Free Chicken Recipe. This recipe consists of high-protein kibble mixed with freeze-dried raw bites, so your dog gets the nutritional benefits of raw food but the dental benefits of dry food. It features cage-free chicken as the main ingredient to provide ample protein as well as a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. This recipe also contains grain-free carbohydrates and a blend of omega fatty acids. Plus, it is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and probiotics for digestion.

  • Pros: High-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw bites, grain-free carbohydrates, blend of omega fatty acids, cage-free chicken as main ingredient, glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet

Solid Gold Mighty Mini Chicken, Chickpeas, & Pumpkin Toy & Small Breed Recipe

Best Food for Papillons with Allergies: If your Papillon suffers from food allergies, this Solid Gold Mighty Mini Chicken, Chickpeas, & Pumpkin Toy & Small Breed Recipe might be a good choice. This holistic recipe is specifically designed for small breeds and it features high-quality, all-natural ingredients like real chicken, chickpeas, chicken fat, and sweet potato. It is naturally grain-free and free from artificial additives, both of which are essential for preventing food allergies. It also contains fresh fruits and veggies for nutritional support and dried fermentation products which act as probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: High-quality natural ingredients, 30% protein and 20% fat, grain-free carbohydrates, real fruits and veggies, no artificial additives, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), may be too high in fat for some dogs

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food

Best Food for Papillons with Sensitive Stomachs: If your Papillon as a sensitive stomach, he needs a high-quality diet made with all-natural ingredients that is free from foods that might upset his digestion. This Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food is a great option because it is made with a limited number of ingredients and because it contains a single source of animal protein with grain-free carbohydrates. This recipe contains 29% protein and 14% fat as well as chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and probiotics to ensure healthy and regular digestion.

  • Pros: High-quality natural ingredients, single source of animal protein, limited number of ingredients, no artificial additives, grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), somewhat expensive

3 more Top Rated (5 Star) Papillon Adult Foods

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Toy Breed Adult Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

For a high-quality and highly digestible diet for your Papillon, consider this Blue Buffalo Wilderness Toy Breed Adult Grain-Free Chicken Recipe. Not only is it formulated specifically for toy breeds, but it contains all-natural ingredients like deboned chicken, sweet potatoes, and salmon oil. With 32% protein and 12% fat, this recipe has everything your Papillon needs to stay strong and healthy.

AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Revolving Menu Small-Breed Adult Beef Recipe

If you prefer to feed your Papillon a grain-free diet, this AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Revolving Menu Small-Breed Adult Beef Recipe is a good one to try. It features high-quality natural ingredients like beef, garbanzo beans, and chicken fat to provide the ideal blend of protein and fat for toy breed dogs. Plus, it is supplemented with prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion.

Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Small Breed Recipe Dry Food

When it comes to a high-quality diet for your Papillon, it is hard to do much better than this Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Small Breed Recipe Dry Food. This formula is made with organic ingredients including free-range chicken and organic sweet potatoes and peas. Overall, it provides 26% protein and 15% fat with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and probiotics for digestion.

3 More Top Rated (5 Star) Papillon Puppy Foods

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe

All-natural and surprisingly affordable, this Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe is a great option for your Papillon. This formula features real chicken as the main ingredient with digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like oatmeal and brown rice. It is rich in omega fatty acids and supplemented with fresh fruits and veggies for nutritional support.

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Turkey, Oatmeal, & Salmon Recipe

To give your Papillon puppy the best start possible, try this Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy Turkey, Oatmeal, & Salmon Recipe. This recipe is rich in animal proteins and fats with digestible carbohydrates for fiber and nutrients. It also comes in a smaller kibble size for your puppy’s small mouth and is supplemented with antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies for healthy growth and immunity.

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula

If you’re looking for an affordable puppy food that offers decent nutritional quality, try this Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula. It features real chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients with digestible carbohydrates and plenty of healthy fats. It also contains fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional support and dried fermentation products for healthy digestion.

2 More Picks for Senior Papillon Foods

Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Senior Recipe

As your Papillon gets older his metabolism may slow down, but his needs for quality nutrition won’t change – that’s why this Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Senior Recipe is such a great option. It features deboned chicken as the first ingredient with real fruits and veggies for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also contains L-carnitine to support a healthy metabolism and heart.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Senior Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe

If you’re looking for a premium natural diet for your senior Papillon, look no further than this Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Senior Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe. This recipe features real chicken as the main ingredient and as a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. It also contains plenty of healthy fats, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, and beneficial supplements.

Our FAQ and Papillon Feeding Guide

In addition to thinking about the best dog food for Papillons, you should also think about how to store and feed the food. Food storage is very important because if you expose your dog food to air, it could lose some of its nutritional integrity. Dog food bags are treated on the inside to keep the food fresh, but you lose some of that protection after opening the bag. Instead of pouring the dog food into a new container, place the entire bag in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place.

When it comes to feeding your dog, you should think about what kind of dog bowl to use. Papillons are very small, so you’ll only need a small bowl – this also means that you can buy a high-quality bowl for a relatively low price. Look for ceramic or stainless steel because these materials are easy to clean, and they don’t scratch easily. Scratches can harbor bacteria that is dangerous for your dog. Make sure to keep your dog’s bowls clean as well, running them through the dishwasher or washing by hand.

And now, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about feeding a Papillon:

How much food should I feed my Papillon? – The amount you feed your Papillon is important, but not quite so important as how often you feed him. Papillons have very fast metabolisms so they need to eat frequently – this is also why they need high-calorie food. To determine how much to feed your Papillon, start with a toy- or small-breed recipe for his life stage (puppy, adult, or senior) then refer to the feeding recommendations to determine how much to actually feed him. From there, divide it by your desired number of meals and there you go!

How many times a day should I feed my Papillon? – Your Papillon has a very fast metabolism and if you don’t feed him enough he could develop hypoglycemia – this is particularly dangerous for puppies. Papillon puppies should be fed four meals a day until they are 6 months of age, then you can reduce to three meals a day if needed. Adult Papillons should be kept at three meals a day minimum, but very active dogs may do better with four meals. It all depends on your dog’s age, body weight, and activity level.

What kind of food do Papillon eat? – Because your Papillon only grows to a maximum of 7 pounds, he won’t be eating a large volume of food – this means that the quality of his food is that much more important. Dry food is better than wet food for your dog’s dental health, and it should be made from wholesome natural ingredients without artificial additives or low-quality fillers. If you want to maximize the quality of your dog’s diet, you can feed him some dehydrated or freeze-dried food, though you may want to use it as a food topper to ensure that he gets the dental benefits of dry food as well.

What vegetables are good in a Papillon food? – Most of your dog’s diet should come from animal-based foods but vegetables are a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Fresh vegetables are always a valuable addition to a high-quality dog food, but they can also be a healthy, low-calorie snack. Here are some of the best vegetables for dogs:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini

Before feeding your Papillon any vegetables, make sure they are safe for dogs and thoroughly washed. Feed your Papillon only a little bit at a time to make sure he can tolerate it, and make sure treats (even healthy treats) make up no more than 10% of his daily diet.

Do Papillon need grain-free dog food? – Papillons are no more prone to food allergies than other breeds, so you shouldn’t assume that a grain-free diet is best. In fact, there is some controversy surrounding the long-term safety of grain-free diets for dogs so, unless your dog has an allergy or sensitivity to grain, he may actually benefit from a diet made with whole-grain carbohydrates.

A Final Word

When it comes to the best dog food for Papillons, it needs to be calorie- and nutrient-dense. The quality of the ingredients is very important, but you also need to know how much and how often to feed your dog. Take what you’ve learned here and apply it to ensure that your Papillon gets the food he needs to enjoy a long and happy lifespan by your side.

If you’re still not sure where to start in choosing the best Papillon dog food, try one of our top 15 picks reviewed above!

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