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Pet Bucket Blog

12 Ways to Take Care of Tiny Dogs

 by jaime on 28 Jun 2014 |
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Tiny dogs are becoming increasingly popular particularly among urban city dwellers, people who live in apartments or those who don't have much space. Small dogs are compact, cuddly, transportable, fond of affection and generally more affordable than their larger counterparts. They can also be easier to look after because they eat less, produce less waste, shed less, live longer and don't need as much exercise. They are however known for having huge personalities to counter-balance their teeny tiny bodies which can of course have it's own behavioural upsets!

A small dog is characterised by being sixteen inches tall or less and weigh 22 pounds or less. Tiny dog breeds include: the Maltese, Pug, Pomeranian, Chihuahua and Dachschund as well as many of the designer breeds that are now popular.

Caring for a tiny dog comes with it's own set of special needs that are important to follow in order to maximise it's health, wellbeing and happiness as well as yours.


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1. Make a safe place
Tiny dogs can be very sensitive, whether they easily become scared or over-excited. Having a safe place for your little one is a great idea as it's somewhere they can escape to whenever they need to. This can be a crate or cage, bed or gated area that's away from high traffic areas. This safe place means that your little pooch is off limits so make sure this rule is communicated to family, friends and visitors. Keep your dog's toys in this area along with water and a heating pad covered with a soft fabric as small dogs get chilled easily. Another great idea is to have potty pads near by this location because small dog breeds tend to need the bathroom often!

2. Diet and food
Tiny dogs have tiny stomachs and tiny appetites and are prone to digestive issues like bloating and vomiting which can be encouraged by eating large portions of food all a once. It's preferable to feed your small dog two or three meals a day using high quality, antioxidant rich (to promote longevity) protein (meat or fish) based food with no fillers like ash or corn. If you have a fussy eater on your hands you can moisten dry food with warm water or add a little canned food to liven up meal time and their appetite. Small dogs are also susceptible to hypoglycaemia so frequent meals helps to regulate their blood sugar. If you are time-poor consider purchasing an automatic feeder which can dispense several small meals a day. Beware to watch portion sizes because little dogs are prone to obesity!

3. Dental care
Tiny dogs are prone to dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease so you should invest in dental pads or toothbrushes specifically for small breeds. Dental treats also help keep teeth clean and freshen breath. You should clean your dog's teeth once a week to keep any dental problems from occurring.  

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4. Training
Small dogs are intelligent and because of this, they can become easily bored or frustrated. Training is very important to help curb any naughty behaviour from developing such as ignoring basic commands like sit or stay. Get your little dog involved in group obedience classes which helps with socialisation, soothes boredom and importantly teaches them manners!

5. Exercise
They might be small, but your tiny dog needs daily exercise. Of course you won't need to walk miles like you would if you owned a larger dog so a brisk walk around the block, or an energetic ball game should be suffice. The amount of exercise will be dependent on the breed so sometimes it might take a few extra minutes of activity to wear your pooch out.

6. Offer protection
Your little dog might have oodles of confidence to take on that big Labrador down at the park but the reality is their bodies are too small and even a nudge from a bigger dog could cause injury. To prevent these sort of mishaps, when out with your dog keep them or a short lead and pick them up if it looks like trouble may be brewing.

7. Extracurricular activities
As mentioned, small dogs are prone to boredom, largely due to their high intelligence. One way to combat this is through extra training and agility courses. It's another excellent way to socialise your dog and who knows you may have a little award-winning champion on your hands? Keep an eye out for events like fly ball, agility trails and obedience competitions.

8. Toys
Because small dogs have more energy than larger breeds, you'll need to incorporate plenty of play time and toys into your pooch's daily routine. It helps prevent boredom and stave of bad behaviour - plus it keeps them happy! Remember to replace any broken or torn toys to prevent any nasty accidents.

9. Keep them warm  
Seeing a tiny dog in an even tinier coat or jacket is incredibly cute - but it serves an important purpose. Small dogs feel the cold easily because they have no winter undercoat so can quickly develop hypothermia. So when it's cold out, make sure you dress your little dog appropriately. Sweaters and coats that are snug fitting and made from soft, natural fibres are best. Also remember to clean of any snow or ice from your pup's feet to stop painful ice balls developing between toes.

10. Grooming
They might be little and spend a lot of time indoors, but that doesn't mean your tiny dog doesn't need to be groomed. In fact, small dogs should be groomed from nose to tail weekly. Use a soft brush and look out for mats of hair in long-haired breeds. Remember to also use a small set of nail clippers to clip of small bits of nail, always avoiding the quick.

11. Be affectionate
This should be easy to follow because your tiny dog is so adorably sweet! However not only is it important to handle your dog throughout the day to develop a close bond but it prevents them from become nippers. Remember to always be gentle, touching ears and feet to help get them used to being handled.  

12. Promote longevity  
As mentioned, small dog breeds live for a long time so it's important to look after them properly so they can have a long, happy and healthy life. As stated, an antioxidant rich diet is important to keep their insides healthy. As your small dog ages you will need to start buying joint care products, heated beds and aspirin to help bring comfort if they should develop arthritis. If you notice your dog begin to loose their teeth, gradually switch over to a high-quality canned food specifically targeted for mature dogs.

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