Health Tips for Small Dogs

By Guest Writer, Greg Miller

Great things come in small packages. You may have heard this phrase before, but if you are a small dog owner, you really understand the meaning. While much of the care for small dogs is similar to caring for larger breeds, there are certain factors that need to be considered to keep your small dog happy and healthy throughout his lifetime.

Image by Flickr user iolaire

Image by Flickr user iolaire

Feeding Guidelines

Keeping a healthy weight is essential for all dogs, but it's extremely important for small breeds. Just a small amount of extra weight can cause serious problems. Feeding healthy dog food based on the weight chart located on the bag, combined with advice from your veterinarian, will ensure your dog reaches and maintains a healthy weight. Never put your small dog on a weight loss regimen without talking to your vet. Proper exercise is also essential.

Dressing Up in Cold Weather

Many dog owners worry about how cold their pet may be in the winter. For most large breeds or those with longer coats, this is not a problem. But for your small breed, a warm doggy sweater may be the best option. This clothing will keep your small dog warm while he is outside exercising or relieving himself. Some small dogs also prefer booties for their feet to help them navigate cold concrete and snowy yards.

Extra Care Around Small Children

Small dogs, particularly the toy breeds, seem like a great choice when you have young children. However, it is important to understand that small dogs and young children do not necessarily mix well. If you choose to purchase a small dog and you have young children in the home, close supervision between the two is necessary. Small dogs can easily become injured when mistreated, even if the treatment is accidental. Young children often have difficulty grasping the concept of being gentle with their pet. Proper socialization at a young age can help curb any negative behavior by the dog toward young children.

Plenty of Energy

The smaller dog breeds tend to have limitless amounts of energy. They are more likely to be high strung and always seem to be on the go. These dogs need plenty of exercise to keep them from becoming destructive. Keeping an array of toys out for your pet can be the ideal way to keep him occupied when you aren't able to walk him or otherwise stimulate him.

Vigilant Dental Care

Proper dental care is essential for all types of dogs, but small breeds are more susceptible to dental diseases because of their small teeth and compact snouts. Therefore, it is more important to take proper care of your small dog's teeth than it is for other dogs. This includes brushing your dog's teeth daily with special toothpaste and inspecting his mouth for infections and other problems. Many dogs do well with brushing their teeth as long as you start at a young age. A yearly trip to the vet will also allow you to identify problems early so they can be resolved.

There is much more information available across the Internet offering tips and tricks to keep small dogs healthy and happy. If you have a reliable Internet connection, you can watch streaming videos on dog health and training as well as tutorials and instruction from experts like Cesar Milan.

About the Author:  Greg is a veterinarian from Ohio who loves dogs, especially his own two golden retrievers.