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Feeding (Main Page)

Maltese Feeding Guidelines

Maltese puppy near his food bowl
Cubbie, photo courtesy of Amy Jo


What a Maltese puppy or dog eats will have a direct impact on his health, both now and in regard to long term health. 

While you will want your Maltese to enjoy his meals, equally important is that the chosen food properly fuels his little body and delivers the right balance of nutrients, and does so without causing issues such as upset stomach or allergic reactions. 

In this section, we will cover:
  • Feeding transitions for new Maltese puppies
  • Dry Vs wet
  • Guidelines of how often and how much to feed a Maltese puppy or dog
  • The best food choices for the Maltese breed
  • Common feeding problems
Want to see recommendations right now? Jump to: Recommended Dog Foods for Maltese Puppies and Dogs

Feeding Transitions for New Maltese Puppies

When you first bring your new Maltese puppy home, you may wish to feed him a different brand than what he is used to. And making a change is certainly encouraged if you will be transitioning to a better formula. 

However, you will want this to be a gradual change. Making a fast switch can cause upset stomach issues, and a puppy may not be too keen for new flavors.

Most breeders will send a new pup home with a small amount of his food that usually covers a few days. So, you'll want to find out the exact brand and formula so that you can have a bag on hand that will last a couple of weeks. 
You will also want to have a bag of your new chosen food that you wish for your Maltese puppy to be eating. The idea will be to do a gradual change-over.
  • During the first week, mix both together; 1/4 new food to 3/4 old. 
  • For week two, mix 1/2 old to 1/2 new
  • For week three, mix 3/4 new to 1/4 old
  • By the beginning of week four, your Maltese will be be solely on the new food.

Which is Best for Maltese, Dry or Wet?

If given the choice, most dogs would take wet dog food over dry; however, this is not usually the best choice for them. A diet of only wet food may lead to runny bowels. In addition, the texture of dry kibble is better for the teeth.

Therefore, dry kibble is best for most Maltese, though you can mix in a bit of wet food (the same brand as what you are choosing for dry is recommended), or drizzle a bit of low-sodium chicken or beef broth over the kibble if your Maltese needs a small bit of encouragement.

If you do opt for wet dog food, or home cooking, do be sure to follow all at-home dental care tips, which includes a daily dental chew. 

Also, warming food can help encourage meals to be eaten; this can be done in the microwave; however, be sure to stir the food once it is done warming, and check the temperature with your pinkie finger or inner wrist to ensure that it is not hot to the touch. 

Feeding Guidelines - How Often

Feeding a small toy breed like the Maltese is a bit different then with larger dogs. 
New puppies - From the 8 week mark to the 12 week mark (the first month), it is recommended to free-feed. This is the method of leaving out fresh food at all times. 

This is because very young pups can develop hypoglycemia (rapid drop in blood sugar levels) and one of the causes of this is not eating often enough.

You will want to remind your new puppy of where his food is located. Also, do not 'top off' the bowl. Keep small quantities in the bowl, and toss and replace as needed since stale kibble is seldom appealing to puppies. 

Puppies - From the age of 12 weeks to the 9 month mark Maltese puppies should be fed 3 meals per day. It is recommended to not maintain the free-feeding method because by this age most Maltese will eat more if they have scheduled meals. 

If you will be gone for the mid-day meal, you can leave this in a bowl or place a serving inside a treat dispensing toy. Mixing your chosen kibble with a bit of smooth, all-natural peanut butter is usually a well-received method for filling treat-release chews. 
Milo, at 11 months old,
photo courtesy of Urvi Sedani
Because Maltese are such a small breed, it is not always easy to find a properly sized treat-release toy; most are just too big. If you are looking for a good one, the PetSafe Busy Buddy Barnacle Toy, Extra Small is really great.
Adults - Small dogs need to eat more frequently than their larger counterparts, so most adult Maltese will never do well with just one meal a day. Adult Maltese can continue eating 3 small meals per day or transition to two. 

Both options are appropriate and will depend on a particular Maltese's preferences, if the Maltese needs to be home alone during the day, and how often snacks are given. 

How Much to Feed a Maltese

Maltese puppies and dogs eat a surprisingly small amount of food; and if you have had larger breeds in the past it may be hard to believe that such tiny servings properly fuel this breed.

Before we dive into how much food a Maltese should eat, it must be pointed out that different foods vary quite a bit in regard to calories. And that is what this all comes down to. 

Some foods, particularly higher quality dog foods and home cooked food, are calorie dense. Therefore, serving sizes are often smaller than with less-than-ideal brands.

In addition, cheaper, inferior foods may be packed with fillers which do not offer as much nutrition per serving, so a Maltese may need to eat more to receive the same amount of calories. 

Calorie requirements: Growing puppies need about 55 calories per pound of body weight, per day. And dogs that have reached their adult size (about the 9 month mark for Maltese) need approximately 45 calories per pound of body weight, per day. 

Note that this number can go up or down 20%, and depends on a dog's activity level, health, age, and individual metabolism. 

Serving sizes: It is suggested to chose one of the best brands possible, and to follow the recommended serving sizes as shown on the label; these are pretty spot on. 

This said, in general the guidelines are:

Maltese from 2 to 4 pounds will eat about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup per day.

Maltese 5+ pounds will eat about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cups per day

Choosing the Best Food for Maltese Puppies and Dogs

There is a lot to consider when choosing a food, and you'll want to put very careful thought into what you will offer your Maltese.

Many owners are surprised to learn that some of the most well-known dog foods have poor ratings. 

Remember that choosing a great food goes beyond just name recognition. 

In particular, most of the dog food that you will see displayed at local supermarkets are among some of the worst. 

Inferior dog foods bring about lots of issues. You will want to avoid:
Fillers - These are worthless ingredients that are added to some cheap dog foods to plump it up. This is done to make it appear as if there is more real food than there actually is. 

Fillers have very few calories and typically are not absorbed by the body; they come right back out without offering any nutrition. 

Common dog food fillers include corn bran, corncobs, oat hulls, peanut hulls, cottonseed hulls, rice hulls, soybean mill run, wheat mill run, citrus pulp, and cereal by-products.

Artificial additives - These can really do a number on a dog, and particularly a toy breed like the Maltese. Though a dog can be allergic to a real food, most food allergies are due to additives.

The ingestion of chemical preservatives, coloring, and/or flavoring can cause a host of issues. Most common are upset stomach, nausea, and/or diarrhea, poor skin and coat health, and allergic reaction including rashes, itching, hot spots, and/or thinning coat. 
Generic meat sources -  Be very careful with these. If the meat in the dog food is not named, it may legally be any road kill, deceased zoo animals, poultry that dies while on route to facilities, diseased or dying livestock, and pets that have been euthanized at shelters. 
By-products - Animal by-products includes animal parts that are not fit for human consumption. 

So, even if you see somewhat unassuming ingredients such as 'chicken by-product' keep in mind what this means. 

This will include such things as feet,claws, beaks, backs, lungs, eyes, brains, spleen, kidneys, intestines, undeveloped eggs and essentially any part of an animals; nothing is off limits.

Dog food sourced and/or prepared overseas - There is very little trust in food ingredients sourced or prepared in China, and for good reason. We will touch on this ahead. 
Qualities of the best food for your Maltese puppy or dog:
Now that we've gone over what to avoid, let's take a look at what you'll want your Maltese's food to have:

Wholesome food ingredients without any fillers-  You'll want a quality blend that contains only real foods without any extras throw in.
Ruger, at 1 year old,
photo courtesy of Melanie Raines
Zero additives - A brand that does not add any chemicals or artificial ingredients. 

Real meat sources - Chicken and turkey are usually great choices, as these are well tolerated. Also lamb, bison, fish blends, and rabbit are great as well. 

Other healthy ingredients - Fish oil (salmon, mackerel, etc.) are always a bonus to have in a kibble, as this is fantastic for good skin and coat health. Your chosen food should also have a good selection of fruits and vegetables for a balanced diet. 

Proper size - Being so tiny, most Maltese do best with kibble that is sized for small toy breeds. This will make it easier for the puppy or dog to eat, and the consistency will be appropriate for tiny mouths and teeth. 

Made in North America (US and Canada) - Be very careful with this. A 'Made in the USA' label may simply mean that the dog food was mixed, blended, and packaged in the US; but, the meat could have been sourced from China. 

Meats from China have been linked to 500+ deaths of pets (both cats and dogs), and over 3000 complaints of illness.

You will want to choose a dog food that is both sourced and packaged in North America. 
There are a lot of inferior foods. But, fortunately there are some great options as well. Here are a few of the better brands:

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free for Small Breeds - This is a quality dog food that is a good choice for those on a budget. Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe for Small Breeds is a holistic dog food with an emphasis on wholesome ingredients and great flavor. 

This formula's first ingredient is chicken, which is a good choice for most Maltese puppies and dogs. It also contains healthy, nutritious ingredients including turkey, peas, potatoes, and blueberries. Added extras include sage, cinnamon, rosemary, and thyme which act as natural preservatives.

If your Maltese prefers a bit of wet food mixed in, their canned stews are perfect for this. 

There is no soy, no by-products, no artificial additives. This is truly made in the USA, and the size of the kibble is very small, which makes it perfect for most Maltese.
Wellness Complete for Small Breeds -This is a high quality dog food with a focus on a well-balanced diet and some great extras for good health. There is the option of Wellness Complete Small Breed Puppy Food for Maltese under the age of 1 year and Wellness Complete Small Breed - Turkey & Oatmeal, which would be for adult Maltese. 

Both of these varieties have chicken and turkey as main ingredients. There is also oatmeal (great for sensitive stomachs), salmon, brown rice, carrots, spinach, flaxseed, sweet potatoes, and blueberries.

Some nice added bonuses include probiotics for immune health, and omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for skin and coat health. The puppy formula contains a specific one, DHA, which is known to be essential for the proper development of the brain, nervous system, and vision. 

There is no soy, no by-products, and no artificial additives. This is sourced and prepared in the USA, and both the puppy formula and the adult variety are sized with tiny dogs in mind. 
Wellness CORE Grain Free for Small Breeds - This is hard to beat as a top food choice. Wellness CORE Natural Dry Grain-Free for Small Breed Dogs is very calorie dense, and every ingredient serves an important purpose.

The main protein is turkey and chicken, which is well tolerated by most dogs. There are also peas, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, apple, blueberry, kale, and sweet potatoes.

It is fortified with antioxidents, probiotics, vitamins and minerals. There are good amounts of omega 3's with both salmon oil and flaxseed.

This dog food also contains both glucosamine and chondroitin (important for joint and bone health), has no grain, corn, soy or wheat. There is are no artificial additives and no by-products. This is both sourced and made in the USA.
Below are our top recommendations. If you do not see the images, try a re-fresh. For mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4 choices. 
Related: Choosing the Best Snacks for Maltese - Be very careful with what you offer for treats; there are some terrible ones out there, but also some truly fantastic choices for an extra boost of nutrition and yummy rewards. 

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