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Best Dog Foods For Maltese: Puppies, Adults & Seniors


Last Updated: May 9, 2024 | 15 min read | Leave a Comment

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Have you recently brought home a Maltese puppy? Or perhaps your Vet told you that you need a dietary change for your senior Maltese? Regardless of how you got here, finding the best dog food for your Maltese should be a priority, regardless of age. This small toy breed weighing in at 7 pounds or less, has nutritional needs that you need to be aware of.

Many Maltese have a sensitive stomach, so limited ingredient recipes or those with extra fiber or probiotics will soothe his stomach and regulate his digestive system. They are also known to be fussy eaters, so you should expect to test a few kibbles before you find the one that he won’t turn his nose up at. We will cater for both concerns so you can find a variety of kibbles for picky pups.

At the end of this guide you will understand exactly what nutrients he will need as a puppy, adult and senior dog. We have chosen our top 5 kibbles for each stage and explained exactly why we have chosen them and what makes them stand out from the crowd. We’ve also evaluated several weight-management kibbles that are perfect for toy breeds if your pup’s put on some weight. Each of these kibbles will meet the nutritional needs of the Maltese, and even some of their more popular mixes. So, let’s get started!

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods for the Maltese

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy
Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Blue Buffalo Small Breed

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
Our Rating

Best For Adults

The Farmer’s Dog

Overweight Maltese
Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Science Diet Small Paws

Maltese Puppy Nutrient Needs

The Maltese is one of the smallest breeds of all time, and with that comes unique nutritional needs. Hypoglycemia is very common in toy dogs, because their small bodies find it difficult to regulate their blood sugar levels. For this reason, it is important to select kibbles that are catered to toy and small breed dogs. They contain optimum nutrients including inulin which helps to manage diabetes and sugar levels. Tailored kibbles also ensure that the kibble pieces are small enough to fit in his minuscule mouth.

While this breed isn’t known for being muscular, they still need plenty of protein. Protein maintains muscle mass. It also provides energy and ensures your pup has the essential building blocks for his body to develop as it should. The MSD Veterinary Manual recommends that small breed puppies need a kibble that provides a minimum protein content of 22%. This is more than what an adult needs, so puppy formulas are key.

It also recommends that a minimum fat content of 8% is needed for healthy growth. Not only is fat needed for energy, but it also allows vitamins and minerals to be absorbed. This is important for immune system development. In addition to fats, select ingredients such as fish oils, flaxseeds, and other vitamins will support nourished skin and a luxurious coat.

It is advised to feed the Maltese 4 to 6 times a day because of his hypoglycemic needs, but once he reaches the age of 3 months this can be lowered to 3 to 4. Other important nutrients for a puppy are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), as they support healthy brain development and eye function, and they are amino acids naturally found in mothers’ milk.

Adult Maltese Nutrient Needs

At approximately 12 months the Maltese reaches adulthood, and at that point, he should be slowly transitioned to adult kibble. Now that his fully developed body has learned to stabilize his blood sugar levels, he should now be fed 3 meals a day, unless otherwise stated by your Veterinarian.

The MSD Veterinary Manual advises that the protein and fat content is lowered to 18% and 5% respectively, which again, is an important reason to switch him to adult kibble. Overall, his adult nutrition is all about a well-balanced diet.

High-quality protein sources should be sought such as real meat, and meat and fish meals not only provide him with more protein, but they also deliver nutrients such as glucosamine and DHA, as well as extra taste. His long and sleek coat will need plenty of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to nourish his skin and hair, and this is particularly important if he is a show Maltese, because his coat is his most renowned feature.

Senior Maltese Nutrient Needs

As the Maltese ages his nutrient needs will change, and he is considered to be a senior between the ages of 9 and 10 years. As he becomes less active, he will need less energy, therefore it is important to look for a kibble that will provide him with everything he needs, but with fewer calories. He also needs less fat. Not only because too much fat might make him overweight, but his already sensitive digestive system can’t digest fat efficiently in his senior years.

It is still important to feed him high-quality and lean protein, however, it is more important now to ensure that he receives higher levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to support his aging bones and joints, and meat and fish meals are a great source of these.

It is also important to ensure that antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are listed as these support his aging immune system so that he is fighting fit. He may become pickier in his old age too as well as finding the kibble pieces harder to crunch, so adding Chicken broth to his bowl might help.

Best Food for Maltese Puppies

Maltese Puppy Eating Dog Food
Maltese puppies need a food packed with nutrients as they grow.

Once you start to wean your Maltese puppy, you’ll want to put them on puppy food that will meet their nutritional needs as they grow.  Puppies will typically need to remain on a puppy formula food from the time they are 12 months old, up to 15 months old depending on their weight and maturity. This is typically the same for Maltese pups and other small breeds they are often compared against.

Because small breed puppies have a strong nutritional need to be filled, it’s important to make sure they get the right nutrients at an early age.  Picking the wrong food at an early stage of life could hold back your puppy’s growth track. It could also potentially increase the likelihood of them getting sick due to a lack of antioxidants. In no particular order, below we have our favorite dog foods for Maltese puppies through 15 months of age.

Purina Pro Puppy Toy Breed Formula

Purina Pro Adult Toy Dog Formula
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Probiotics for digestive suport.
  • DHA for brain development.
  • Formulated for dogs under 10 pounds.
  • Higher calorie density for growing puppies.
  • 533 Calories per cup.
  • 34% Protein, 20% Fat, 3% Fiber.

Purina have created this recipe based on their strong scientific research, and this recipe caters to the needs of all toy breed puppies and their unique nutritional requirements. Real Chicken is the first ingredient, and it has the highest protein content on our list too. Some online reviewers commented how this kibble brought their puppies slow development back up to where it should be.

Fish meal and dried egg product supply him with a source of DHA, and fish oil and vitamin E ensure that his silky coat is well nourished. It also has the highest moisture content, which many pups find easier to crunch.

We love that this recipe is specifically designed for toy breeds, so if he has a particularly smaller mouth then the extra small kibble pieces will be easier for him to munch.

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

  • Kibble is smaller in size for small jaws.
  • Promotes tartar removal from teeth.
  • Glucosamine for early joint support.
  • Antioxidants for immune health.
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or chicken.
  • 397 Calories per cup.
  • 26% Protein, 15% Fat, 4% Fiber.

Blue Buffalo has kept to its promise and real Chicken is the first ingredient on this list. Chicken meal claims second place. This means that your Maltese will consume high-quality protein. And, this formula also includes the amino acids he needs for healthy development. Chicken meal is also a great source of glucosamine for his bones and joints.

With their exclusive LifeSource Bits, optimum levels of puppy nutrients can be found. There are also plenty of antioxidants for his developing immune system. This will keep your pup in a healthy oxidative state. DHA and ARA are also listed for his brain development.

We love that this recipe has the highest fiber content on this list. This makes it a great option for Maltese pups who need more fiber for their sensitive digestive system.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Puppy

  • Grain-free formula.
  • Deboned chicken is first ingredient.
  • Smaller kibble size for small jaws.
  • Omega fatty acids for skin & coat health.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 397 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 15% Fat, 4.5% Fiber.

Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients in this recipe. This provides healthy muscle development and meaty taste, which is a big hit. Salmon oil and flaxseed are listed. Both ingredients will ensure that your pup’s skin is well nourished, which in turn promotes a healthy coat. It is formulated with DHA and has prebiotics and probiotics for optimal digestion.

There are also plenty of vegetables found in this recipe. These include sweet potatoes and garden peas, which are great for his fiber needs and will keep your pup feeling fuller for longer. Apples and blueberries provide the antioxidants that your pup’s immune system needs. Inulin is also listed for his sugar level management.

We love that this is a grain-free option for Maltese puppies who are grain intolerant. This is one of our favorite formulas that Merrick produces.

Wellness Complete Puppy Small Breed

  • Smaller size kibble for smaller jaws.
  • No by-products or fillers.
  • DHA for brain development.
  • Wholesome grains for balanced nutrition.
  • Antioxidants for immune system boost.
  • 489 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 19% Fat, 4.25% Fiber.

Deboned Turkey, Chicken meal and Salmon meal are found within the first four ingredients. This will help make sure your pup’s hunger and tiny tastebuds are both satisfied. Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and blueberries are included for additional fiber. They also provide antioxidants and energy for the Maltese bouncy personality.

Despite being the middle of the road when it comes to calorie count, many reviewers commented that their small breed pup was full of energy. Inulin from chicory root is also listed, and Salmon oil and vitamin E ensure that his distinctive white coat is beautifully shiny and healthy.

We love that this recipe offers a little bit of everything, so you can be sure that his complete health is well cared for with this recipe.

Canidae Small Breed Puppy

Canidae Salmon Small Breed Adult
  • Formulated specifically for petite dogs.
  • Freeze-dried kibble formula.
  • Contains pieces of raw food.
  • Probiotics for digestive health.
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • 525 Calories per cup.
  • 24% Protein, 13.5% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This is a limited ingredient recipe, which is great for those Maltese who have a sensitive digestive system. Made with only 8 ingredients, fresh Salmon and Salmon meal provide him with protein and oils for his coat. Freeze-dried raw Salmon is also listed, which packs a flavor punch. Being full of fish oils, flaxseed and select vitamins, most reviewers commented on how incredible their pooch’s coat was.

Wholesome vegetables such as lentils and peas are included in this recipe. It’s also made with canola oil and extra probiotics to ensure that his digestive system has everything it needs and nothing that it doesn’t.

We love that this recipe is made with Salmon as the main protein source, so this is a great option for those fussier pups who do not like the common poultry protein source or taste.

Best Food for the Adult Maltese

Maltese Dog Eating Food
Maltese adults will need a lower calorie count than puppies.

Maltese puppies can start to transition to an adult formula dog food at around 1 year in age. During this time, your Maltese puppy will transition into being an adult. This means your pup will no longer need extremely nutrient dense foods.  Keeping them on a food that contains the same calorie count as most puppy foods mean that your pup is likely to end up overweight.

Because the Maltese is a smaller dog breed, they will typically live a little longer than larger breeds.  This means you are looking at least 6-7 years on an adult dog food. Similar to when they are puppies, you may need to trial and error a dog food your dog likes.  We recommend you do this slowly. Start by mixing in the new adult food with puppy food and gradually migrate over time. This way you don’t upset your dog’s stomach.  Below you will find our favorite adult foods for your Maltese in no particular order.

The Farmer's Dog

  • Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
  • Personalized meal plans.
  • 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
  • Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
  • Manufactured in the United States.
  • Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.

Answer a few quick questions about your long-haired friend to get a customized meal plan from The Farmer’s Dog. Meat comes first in all four recipes (Pork, Turkey, Beef, Chicken), followed by vegetables and other human-grade ingredients, designed to ensure a healthy balance of energy and fiber to feed your pup’s spirit and belly.

Recipes also include vitamins and minerals to enhance your canine’s flowing coat and build the immune system. Your toy breeds will find The Farmer’s Dog to be good for digestion and enjoyable to eat.

We love that this food is grain-free for those with food allergies. It’s also a treat for picky pooches who are seeking gourmet meal options.

Purina Pro Toy Breed Adult

Royal Canin Adult Maltese Dog Food
  • Budget-friendly.
  • High-quality ingredients.
  • Made for adult dogs under 10 pounds.
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Natural prebiotic fibers.
  • 488 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 17% Fat, 3% Fiber.

Following on from the puppy formula, this formula is made with toy breeds in mind. With select vitamins and smaller kibble pieces, this recipe should be a big hit with your Maltese. Chicken is the first ingredient. Chicken is followed by select grains. These grains are perfect to ensure your pup receives enough energy for his day ahead. This food choice is popular with many owners who have fussy pups, many that won’t eat anything else!

This also has the lowest fiber content. Some dogs do not do well on a highly fibrous diet. But it still includes wholesome bran, which ensures that his digestive health has enough to function as it should. Vitamin E, linoleic acid, and biotin also look after his skin and coat.

We love that this has the highest calorie content for those super lively pooches.

Royal Canin Adult Maltese

Merrick Lil Plates Adult
  • Balanced nutritional profile for Maltese.
  • Reduces stool odor.
  • Probioitics for gut health.
  • DHA for brain development.
  • Smaller bite sizes for small jaws.
  • 317 Calories per cup.
  • 22% Protein, 16% Fat, 3.3% Fiber.

Royal Canin makes recipes for specific breeds. With their strong scientific background, this kibble makes our top picks for the Maltese from the age of 10 months. The protein content exceeds the recommended amount. With the uniquely tailored kibble piece, your dog will find this kibble particularly easy to eat.

Highly digestible fibers and proteins, such as dried chicory root, minimize stool odor and keep his digestive system regular. Fish oil, vitamin E, folic acid, biotin and omega fatty acids ensure that his coat is kept in tip-top condition. Many owners have noted that their dog’s coat looks more lustrous, and tear stains also disappeared.

We love that this recipe is made by canine nutritionists who have studied the Maltese breed. This means you can be sure that all of his nutritional needs are met with this recipe.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breeds

Wellness Complete Toy Breed
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with real locally sourced beef.
  • Probiotic fiber for digestion.
  • Small kibble size for small jaws.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 402 Calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 15% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

This recipe is made with deboned Beef, Lamb meal and Salmon meal as the main protein sources. So, there are plenty of amino acids to be found in this recipe. This is important for your pup’s overall health and muscle maintenance. Sweet potatoes and peas provide him with energy and fiber too, as well as inulin.

Omega fatty acids and flaxseeds look after his coat. The included apples and blueberries provide him with the defense power his immune system needs. Not only is this recipe tasty, but owners have found that their toy breeds found this really easy to eat.

We love that this recipe is poultry-free for those with sensitivities to many ingredients. It’s also great for fussier pooches who are simply picky about what they eat.

Wellness Complete Toy Breed Adult

Nutro Ultra Toy Breed
  • Small kibble size for easy eating.
  • Antioxidants to strengthen immune health.
  • Taurine for heart health.
  • No meat by-products or fillers.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 462 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 17% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

This recipe will take care of your Maltese’s complete health, including skin, coat, energy, digestive health, eyes, teeth, and immunity. Following on from the puppy recommendation this recipe is tasty with deboned Turkey, Chicken meal and Turkey meal.

Select vitamins and calcium ensure that his teeth are cared for, and the tiny kibble pieces will help to break down plaque. Not only is it nutritious, but many reviewers commented that their fussy pups couldn’t get enough of this kibble.

We love that this recipe has the highest fiber content, and with prebiotics and probiotics, his sensitive digestive system will love this gentle recipe.

Nutro Ultra Toy Breed Adult

Nutro Small Breed Senior
  • Made from three lean animal proteins.
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients.
  • Grain-inclusive formula.
  • No artificial colors or preservatives.
  • Antioxidants for immune support.
  • 371 Calories per cup.
  • 27% Protein, 16% Fat, 4% Fiber.

Also known as the superfood plate, this kibble ensures that there are plenty of nutrients in his bowl. Exotic ingredients such as coconut, chia seeds, pumpkin, and spinach are included. These complement the trio of proteins used, Chicken, Lamb, and Salmon. These animal proteins provide him with energy and muscle power.

Biotin, vitamin E and flaxseed ensure that his coat his nourished and dried egg products provide him with DHA which is still important for brain and eye function.

We love that this recipe is made with a wide variety of superfoods and antioxidants, which is great for his immune system and overall wellness.

Best Food for the Senior Maltese

Senior Maltese Dog Eating
The Senior Maltese dog breed will need food that supports joint health.

It’s not uncommon for this breed to live well into the double digits.  We recommend placing your Maltese on a Senior Dog food around 7 years of age, perhaps 8 depending on the dog and if they have any health conditions.  It’s not uncommon for health issues to start coming into place as your dog crosses the 8 year mark.

Senior dogs will usually need some type of joint support in their Senior food formulas, as well as an antioxidant boost in order to keep their immune system strong. You’ll also want to watch the caloric intake so that your pup doesn’t become overweight in old age. Below are our favorite foods for Maltese dogs, in no particular order.

Science Diet Small Paws

  • Made for dogs 11 years and older.
  • High-quality protein for muscle retention.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients.
  • Fatty acids for skin and coat health.
  • Healthy fiber aids in digestion.
  • 371 Calories per cup.
  • 18% Protein, 11% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This diet is made for the older senior. With Chicken meal being the first ingredient, it ensures your pup’s aging muscles still get their protein needs satisfied. It also provides support for your pup’s joints and mobility with boosted levels of glucosamine and chondroitin. It’s one of the better formulas that Science Diet offers, so it’s no surprise it made our list.

It has a select blend of vitamins and minerals to support heart, kidney and bladder health, and omega fatty acids and vitamin E ensure that his coat remains silky smooth.

We love that this recipe is made and recommended by Veterinarians across the world, so you can be sure that your Maltese is in good hands with this recipe.

Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind

  • Grain-inclusive formula.
  • Contains enhanced botanical oils.
  • DHA for brain health.
  • Highly digestible formula for older dogs.
  • Probiotics for gut health.
  • 487 Calories per cup.
  • 29% Protein, 16% Fat, 3% Fiber.

This recipe is made with older seniors in mind whose brain does not function as it once used to. Botanical oils such as arginine, and DHA and EPA from fish oil are said to increase mental sharpness in just 30 days.

This recipe is the highest in fats and calories. This makes it suitable if your dog is a physically active senior. Many Maltese owners have noted that it’s helped improve overall coat condition. Chicken is the first ingredient, so it is tasty and nutritious too.

We love that this recipe is designed to make his mind more active, with many reviewers commenting that it took their pooch’s energy and alertness back to their puppy days.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Senior Small Breed

  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with real deboned chicken.
  • Small kibble size for smaller jaws.
  • Probiotics for digestive health.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 348 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 12% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

This is the only grain free recipe which is important for those pooches with intolerances or owner preferences. It lists deboned Chicken and Chicken meal as the first two ingredients. It also a high protein content for muscle maintenance.

Probiotic and prebiotic fibers ensure that his digestive system is regulated, and less fat and L-carnitine ensure that his metabolism is supported. Picky dogs seem to love this recipe, and the Maltese is no different with their sometimes finicky preferences.

We love that this recipe has leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for his aging bones and joints.

Wellness Complete Senior Small Breed

  • Smaller kibble size for small jaws.
  • Glucosamine for joint health.
  • Antioxidants for immune health.
  • Probioitics for gut health.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 435 Calories per cup.
  • 25% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.

This recipe completes the set, so if your pooch has eaten this kibble his whole life this is the one to choose! Lean proteins such as Turkey are listed, and peas and sweet potatoes provide him with energy. Wellness is a great brand, and often compared to other dog food giants, even though they have a smaller market share.

It supports bone health with glucosamine and fatty acids, whilst ensuring that his weight is managed well. This recipe offers a well-balanced diet that covers every nutritional need.

We love that recipe has a high level of fiber for those Maltese who have a sensitive digestive system, as well as plenty of probiotics.

Nutro Senior Small Breed

Science Diet Perfect Weight Small Dog
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients.
  • No wheat, or soy ingredients.
  • No by-products or fillers.
  • Natural fiber for digestion.
  • Formulated specifically for seniors.
  • 320 Calories per cup.
  • 26% Protein, 14% Fat, 4% Fiber.

Chicken, Chicken meal, Lamb meal and Salmon meal provide a senior Maltese with all the protein needed. Glucosamine, chondroitin and omega fatty acids also support his bones and aging coat. Many senior Maltese owners have noted that this formula is very tasty, for even the pickiest eaters.

With a huge offering of superfoods, such as coconut, kale, spinach and blueberries, his cellular health is kept in tip-top condition. It also provides the lowest number of calories which is important as he becomes less active.

We love that this recipe is full of superfoods and antioxidants to keep his immune system strong.

Food for the Overweight Maltese

Overweight Maltese
Has your pup put on a few extra pounds? The following foods are perfect to help them slim down.

If your Maltese finds himself above the recommended 7-pound weight limit, then it’s time to switch him to a weight management kibble. Whilst it may not seem that much to be concerned about, overweight pooches suffer from a long list of associated health issues, so you shouldn’t take it lightly!

Science Diet Perfect Weight

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy
  • Made with natural ingredients.
  • Made for small breed weight maintenance.
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • High-fiber formula.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 291 Calories per cup.
  • 24% Protein, 9% Fat, 13% Fiber.

Over 70% of dogs who were switched to this kibble lost weight within just 10 weeks. So, if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for your Maltese. This recipe has just 291 calories per cup and a 11% fat content. Chicken is still the first ingredient. But, with a higher fiber content and L-carnitine, this recipe keeps him feeling fuller for longer. It also supports his metabolism to burn off more energy.

Halo Grain Free Healthy Weight

  • Made with non-GMO ingredients.
  • Contains no meat meals.
  • Made from sustainably caught fish.
  • Made with real fruits and veggies.
  • No by-products or fillers.
  • 383 Calories per cup.
  • 27% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.

The Maltese is known to have intolerances and sensitive stomachs more than most. For that reason, your pup may need to stick to a grain-free option if they need to lose weight. It has more calories at 383 per cup, but it has a lower fat content. This recipe also contains L-carnitine for muscle retention.

It is also a great option for those fussier pooches who are not a fan of poultry ingredients. Whole Salmon and Whitefish provide 27% protein, and in addition to the fish oils for healthy skin and coat. The formula also lists flaxseed and folic acid for his coat health.

Final Thoughts

The Maltese is a loveable companion who deserves the very best, and in order to keep him with you for as long as his typical 15 year lifespan, it is imperative that you choose the best nutrition for him. Taking into consideration his unique needs, such as nourishing his glorious coat and taking care of his sensitive digestive system, these kibbles are our favorite picks. So, stick with our recommendations and neither you nor your Maltese will be disappointed.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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