Papillon Diet & Meal Plan

By Hungry Bark | November 2, 2021

The miniature Papillon is a highly agile and active breed. Easily identifiable by their wide arching ears gives the Papillon its name, which in French means “butterfly.” It is an offshoot of the spaniel and will exhibit certain instinctual traits such as chasing small squirrels, toys, and other moving objects (including insects!).

Small in stature but large in personality, the Papillon is an excellent breed for families or individuals and thrives in any setting, from large yards to small apartments.

Playful and curious by nature, this breed needs physical and mental challenges and is happy tagging along with any activity. On average, the Papillon weighs under 10 pounds and stands less than 1 foot tall, making it one of the smaller breeds according to the American Kennel Club. Life expectancy is 12-14 years when provided with an ideal diet and exercise routine.

The Importance Of Getting Enough Exercise

As with humans, getting the proper amount of exercise is foundational for healthy living and one of the best ways to ensure a happy, long life.

Ideally, a combination of exercise, diet, and routine check-ups with the veterinarian is the key to longevity and a happy life.

Papillons are an intelligent, happy, energetic breed and are friendly as well as eager to please. Though small in stature, they require approximately 30 minutes of vigorous activity daily, whether indoor or outdoor activities.

Numerous benefits come with daily exercise, from improved skeletal-muscular systems, enhanced respiratory and cardiovascular health, and improved moods and behaviors. Additional benefits include bone density and development, weight management, digestive health, better-regulated sleep, and play a significant role in the quality of life.

When dogs lack any regular exercise, they are known to exhibit higher cases of anxiety and other behavioral issues. These misbehaviors can show up as aggressive play, digging holes, and general disobedience.

In other words, it’s essential to get regular exercise for your Papillon as it is necessary for physical health and mental wellbeing.

There’s an adage that states, “a tired dog is a happy dog.” Regular exercise will improve its overall health from the body to the mind. As dogs become calmer, they exhibit better behaviors and listening, making them more teachable and disciplined.

Contact your pet’s veterinarian if you have questions about its overall wellbeing and prior to beginning a vigorous activity. Your vet will be able to diagnose any potential issues and eliminate any unknown underlying health issues.

Understand dogs have a range of physical and nutritional needs at various stages of life, and your nutrition and exercise plans should adapt to those changing needs. To find an appropriate exercise routine, factor in your dog’s age, breed, weight, activity level, allergies and wellness goals.

The Multiple Health Benefits Associated With Exercise

Exercise is a foundation for better living and a healthier pet. There are numerous benefits to regular exercise;

  • Improved Cardiovascular Function: Daily vigorous exercise will challenge your Papillon’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems. By taxing these systems, they are forced to work more efficiently, providing better overall health, even after completing the exercise.
  • Aids Digestion: In addition to burning off calories, exercise aids the body in regulating appetite, helps with digestion and waste production.
  • Weight Management: As calories are consumed, they need to be burned off, and an active lifestyle will aid the body with weight management. The reason weight management is crucial is that an overweight dog is known to have an increased risk of heart complications, a much more significant factor in other health-related problems.
  • Increased Flexibility: By exercising regularly, the connective tissue between muscles and bone maintains its range of flexibility. This factor is especially important in older dogs to reduce the chance of injury.
  • Enhanced Mental Capacity and Moods: By exercising regularly, the brain releases various mood-enhancing neurochemicals that work to bolster moods and increase mental function. Challenging your Papillon through various agility drills and other engaging activities will stimulate your pet’s mind and help offset poor behaviors due to being bored.  
  • Strengthen The Skeletal-Muscular System: Regular exercise strengthens the bone and muscular systems of your Papillon. Regularly taxing the skeletal-muscular system helps maintain weight, muscular strength, and flexibility, and the added benefit comes with calorie elimination long after the activities have subsided.

Suggested types of exercise activities for your Papillon include agility drills, games, walks, and dog parks.


  1. Agility Drills: As a breed, Papillons are intelligent and enjoy being mentally challenged. They are easily trainable and agile, so creating activities that engage their curiosity, as well as their bodies, is recommended. Try to create obstacle courses or agility drills for your daily activities to get your Papillon some stimulation while enhancing the hierarchy you have with your pet. Examples to consider are creating an obstacle course, playing fetch, working on basic commands of sit and stay as you throw a ball, or any other task that allows you to train the positive behaviors you want your Papillon to adopt.


  1. Walks: As a species, dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to engage with their surroundings. Instinctually, dogs sniff around their environment to seek out possible food sources and determine if any threats lurk nearby. A daily walk around your neighborhood will allow your Papillon to engage its curiosity while discovering all the comings-and-goings in the area. One additional benefit of walks is that they provide an opportunity to teach and reinforce proper behaviors while strengthening your relationship bonds.


  1. Hikes: A nice change of pace is considering taking a short hike if you live in an area with access to hiking trails. The benefit of a hike is that just as with a walk, you have the opportunity to get low-impact exercise while having the chance to reinforce good behaviors. An added benefit is that your Papillon will be overly stimulated with the newer sights and smells they experience. Just be sure to know the terrain and expected weather in the area before you embark on your hike. As a general rule, when the weather is hot for you, it will be too hot for your dog.


  1. Dog Park: Dogs enjoy activities with other dogs as they are social by nature. Dogs will instinctively form packs with other dogs to learn behaviors and hierarchies. Keep in mind that Papillons aren’t known to be “self-aware” of their size, meaning they often think they can run and jump with larger dogs. By including a dog park in your exercise routine, it will give your Papillon a chance to socialize with other dogs while getting enough exercise. A short day at the dog park will tire out your pup much more than a walk, and you’ll be amazed how much energy your dog burns off by running and wrestling with others.


These suggestions are a simple starting point of things for you to consider. Next, adapt your exercise program based on your Papillon’s overall age and health, and keep in mind its diminutive size when planning specific activities.

Why Your Papillon’s Food Ingredients Are Important

There are essential benefits to proper nutrition, but some potential issues stem from subpar manufactured foods.

One issue is that dogs can suffer from food-borne allergies. Subpar food manufacturers may include additives and fillers that may cause an allergic reaction, and it’s best to steer clear of these additives. The only solution is to educate yourself about the exact nature of the food you provide your Papillon.

Cheaper brands may include different fillers, and those fillers may trigger an allergic response. Instead, choosing a higher-quality recipe will eschew these additives and help you avoid unnecessary allergic reactions. The problem with food-borne allergens is that once a dog has a reaction, their bodies work to attack those allergens, making the immune system overactive. Once that occurs, the body is much more susceptible to other types of allergic reactions.

The other reason food-borne allergies are best to be avoided is that they may mirror more severe health issues. The only certainty you have when determining the cause is to get a thorough and sometimes costly veterinarian examination.

Some of the symptoms that stem from food-borne sources range from excessive itching to digestive problems.

When you select a higher-quality meal plan, you know that the ingredients listed are all included in the recipe. They will provide all the macronutrients to provide plenty of energy, build and maintain strong bones and teeth while improving cardiovascular health.

What Are Macronutrients

What is a macronutrient exactly, and are they vital for overall health? A macronutrient is defined as the primary source of nutrition for optimal health. A balanced meal plan will include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that will provide your dog with all the energy and nutrition they need to live well.

Keep in mind that food manufacturers list their ingredients by weight found in the final recipe when you read the product label. This means that the first item listed is the most prevalent and the most important to the recipe.

Causes Of Food-Borne Allergies

Food-borne allergies can be more than a bit of a nuisance. They can mimic a variety of more severe health issues. In addition, symptoms of food-borne allergies can simulate other allergies, such as excessive itching, digestive problems like diarrhea and flatulence, fatigue and low energy, a runny nose, and watery eyes, to name the more common ones.

The problem with subpar meal plans is that they often have too many fillers and additives to cause food-borne allergies.

When you select a meal plan consisting of only high-quality ingredients, you can have the confidence that what you feed your Papillon is only the best. Instead of “meat meal” that you may find in subpar recipes, high-quality meal plans are made with only pure animal protein sources such as chicken, salmon, and lamb and are labeled clearly rather than using some obscure term such as “meat meal.”

It’s best to avoid food-borne allergies that may stem from fillers and additives included in most subpar recipes. Selecting a meal plan that is clearly labeled, eschews misleading terms, and is formulated for your dog’s age, breed, weight, activity level, allergies, and wellness goals is the best strategy to avoid any unnecessary food issues.

How To Read The Ingredients Label

When reading your dog’s food label, you need to understand that there is more to the label than appears.

The FDA highly regulates dog food, yet there exist some loopholes that some manufacturers exploit. In order to make an educated decision on the best meal plan for your Papillon, you need to understand what the FDA allows in the language used on recipes and food labels.

All dog foods are required to list their ingredients based on the weight and priority of the ingredient in the final recipe. What that means is when you read a label, the first item listed is the most prevalent and is a higher percentage of the recipe than any ingredients that follow.

It’s also essential to understand how those manufacturers may use those listed ingredients in the product description. These ingredients and descriptors fall under four categories of terms in the product label.

These four categories are; the 95% rule, the 25% rule, the with rule, and the flavor rule.

The 95% Rule

For a food label to assert a specific ingredient such as a protein like chicken, the FDA requires that the recipe contain at least 95% chicken in the final formula.

This rule should give you confidence that when you read a food label that claims “turkey for dogs,” it must have at least 95% of turkey in the recipe.

The 25% Rule

However, when you read a food label and come across terms such as “dinner, platter, or entree,” what you can be sure of is that the percentage of the protein listed is required to contain at least 25% in the final recipe. Many people stumble upon the problem that if you don’t understand a description such as “salmon platter for dogs,” on the surface, it may appear a healthy option when in reality, the meal plan may only consist of 25% or more salmon in the recipe. The rest of the protein may stem from “meat meal” fillers that may cause food-borne health issues.

The “With” Rule

When you come across the term “with,” it is a way to imply healthy ingredients without including a high percentage of quality ingredients. For example, if you see a label that asserts, “dog food with chicken,” the label tells you that there is a minimum of 3% of chicken in the final recipe. However, higher percentages of additives are often included, which are difficult for you to trace the purity and source.

The “Flavor” Rule

The final category to understand is the “flavor” rule. This rule has the least requirements of all the four rules. When you read a label that includes the term “flavor,” for example, “salmon entree with beef flavor,” know that the ingredient list is only required to include just enough of the protein to be traceable. In other words, the recipe doesn’t even need to include the protein source, just enough trace elements to be discoverable. This tactic can be more than misleading about the quality of food being provided on the food label.

The type of meal plan selected for your Papillon is essential for energy, proper nutrition, enhanced immune system, and aids with digestion, as well as weight management.

The best meal plans prioritize macronutrients from pure sources such as animal proteins like chicken, tuna, salmon, and turkey over fillers. In addition, the food labels avoid using some of the misleading terms discussed, and providing a great meal plan for your Papillon is a critical factor in its overall health.

Selecting The Right Meal Plan

Taking a holistic approach that focuses on the three significant factors to healthy living, such as diet, nutrition, and regular veterinary visits, is the bare minimum responsibility as a pet parent.  

At Hungry Bark, we understand that selecting the best meal plan for your pet can sometimes be challenging.

To help you, we’ve created the Hungry Bark Custom Meal Planner as a great place to start! In as little as 2 minutes, the meal planner will customize your pet’s meal plan considering characteristics such as breed, age, weight, and activity level, and more to provide a custom meal plan for a quality, healthy life.

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Your Dog’s Age And Weight

Like people, dogs at different stages of life require different nutritional needs for a well-balanced diet. Additionally, your dog’s weight and activity levels should factor into the portions you offer it at feeding time.

Dry Food Vs. Wet

Some dogs prefer dry food, while others prefer wet food. There’s been some debate over whether one is more beneficial than another, but in general dry food is easier to store and won’t be an issue if your dog isn’t hungry at feeding time.

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