Little Dog, Big World: Caring for Small Dogs
There are a lot of advantages to small dogs: They tend to enjoy longer lives, meet their exercise requirement more easily, and fit into just about every living situation. But these small wonders have unique needs when it comes to care and nutrition:
Food & treats
Smaller bodies mean less food is needed to fuel them, so the pet parents of small dogs will find that their supply of dog food will go a lot longer. However, here are some tips to keep in mind when feeding your small dog:
- Pint-sized bites: Many pet food brands offer formulas just for small dogs. Not only do they offer smaller kibble sizes that are easier on a small dog’s jaw and teeth, the nutrition is tailored for small dogs. Small dogs have a higher metabolic rate and proportionally longer digestive tract than large breed dogs.
- Buy small bags: If you only have one small dog, a 40lb bag may take your pet a really long time to get through. To keep your food fresher, opt for the smaller sized bags.
- Easy on the treats: Giving a small dog a regular sized treat is an easy way to knock their diet off course. Keeping slim is important in all dogs, but with small dogs a little weight gain goes a long way. Think about it, if a 10lb dog gains just 1lb, that’s a 10% body weight increase, or the equivalent of a 150lb person gaining 15lbs. Look for small training treats that only contain a few calories per treat, or ensure you break their favourite treat into smaller bits.
Health care and concerns
- Smile: Because they have smaller mouths, and enjoy longer lives, small dogs often deal with dental issues later in life. Be proactive with dental care, establish a cleaning routine and provide your pet with dental treats.
- Stay Slim: Many small breeds can tend towards couch-potatoism. But extra weight on their small frames can lead to health issues. Regular walks will help to keep you both feeling great.
- Don’t eat that: Be especially careful around foods and substances that are dangerous for dogs like chocolate, grapes, onions, and human medications. The dangerous doses of these items vary by the weight of your pet, so even a small piece of chocolate which may not harm a large dog can be harmful to your smaller dog. Your dog is much closer to the ground than you are, so installing a solid ‘Leave it’ command will help you to keep them away from things that you drop, or that they come across on the floor.
- Harnesses: Because of their small stature, collars are not the ideal way to walk your small dog. Harnesses help to distribute pressure and are especially recommended with breeds that are commonly associated with neck or back problems.
- Carriers: One of the perks of small dogs is that they are easy to travel with. If your dog is small and light enough, he can even travel with you on an airplane as your carry-on. Carriers that can be clipped into a seat belt are great for the car, and will help keep your pet secure in the event of a sharp turn, quick stop or collision.
Small dogs pack a lot of personality into their small statures, so enjoy your ‘small wonder’ of a pet.
Did you know? According to the American Kennel Club, Yorkshire Terriers are the most popular small-breed dog in terms of registration numbers (6th overall).