People love small dog breeds, from the adorable French Bulldog to the lively Yorkie. And why not? Small dogs are “portable, spunky and fun,” says Heather Loenser, DVM, senior veterinary officer at the American Animal Hospital Association and associate veterinarian at Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
Small dogs are known for hopping onto the couch for a snuggle, traveling wherever their pet parents go and having big personalities that dwarf their weight class. They might clock in under 20 pounds, but these pets require as much attention and dog supplies as their big-boned cousins.
“Just because they are small, doesn’t mean they are low maintenance or require less exercise or interaction,” Dr. Loenser says. “They are often small yet mighty and love playing fetch, going on long walks and being close to their family.”
If you’re the proud parent of a tiny pup or just looking to stock up for your small pet’s arrival, check out the nine must-have items below.
Though they may be tiny, small dog breeds aren’t just lap dogs. Getting outside—whether it’s a trip to the dog park or a walk around the neighborhood—is just as necessary and important for these little companions.
“Small dogs need the same, if not more, exercise,” says Isaac Terrell, a trainer and manager at Healthy Hound Playground in Sterling, Virginia, and owner of Isy’s Ways Dog Training in nearby Ashburn. “Sometimes they have even more stamina than larger dogs.”
A collar appropriately sized for small dogs will help keep your petite pet from accidentally getting loose and possibly prevent a lost pup. For a collar that’s secure and chic, the Frisco patterned dog collar is one option your dog will look adorable in.
Or you can opt for a dog harness, especially if your pup pulls on the leash. Dr. Loenser recommends the PetSafe Premier Gentle Leader dog headcollar to avoid injuries to a dog’s throat, neck or back from pulling.
For a longer trip that might tire out your tiny-legged pup, a pet stroller, like Gen7Pets Promenade pet stroller, is helpful. On special outings where you want to take your pal with you on long distances, a pet stroller can be a great alternative.
2. Diets for Small Dog Breeds
Food is definitely an essential, especially for small dogs with big appetites! Stock up on dog food sized for little jaws, such as Bil-Jac’s small breed dry dog food or Solid Gold’s Mighty Mini small breed dog food cups.
There’s no need to be afraid of grains in your small dog’s food, Dr. Loenser says.
“Wheat, corn, soy and other common grains are all safe,” she says, adding that she’s a “big fan of the dental diets” approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
3. A Crate for Small Dogs
Given the choice, small dog breeds will hop into bed with you happily. But a separate dog crate, like Frisco’s fold and carry dog crate, can give your petitie pooch a cozy space of his own, including during the day.
“I’m a big fan of making a dog’s crate (regardless of their size) a safe and enjoyable refuge from a busy household,” Dr. Loenser says. “This can certainly keep them out of harm’s way and decrease stress for everyone.”
4. A Pet Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Dog dental care is super important, no matter your pet’s size. Getting your small dog used to a toothbrush as soon as possible is crucial for you both to be comfortable with routine cleanings and avoid an expensive vet dental bill due to dental disease.
“Start by finding a toothbrush that fits on your finger, and allow the dog to lick tasty toothpaste (chicken-, beef- or peanut butter-flavored) off it,” Dr. Loenser says. “After a few days of training, try to quickly brush one or two front teeth [until you] build up to brushing all of the teeth.”
5. Treats for Small Dogs
When it comes to dog treats, “keep it simple,” and avoid overfeeding them, says Terrell, who is accustomed to doling out small bites during training sessions.
Choose treats specifically sized for your small dog breed’s weight. For a dog treat option that packs flavor and nutrition, Wellness petite treats soft mini-bites might be perfect for your pup. These treats are made with premium, all-natural ingredients and include vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to help support healthy skin and coat.
Don’t forget the dental diets and treats, which are “designed to decrease plaque and tartar accumulation,” according to Dr. Loenser. For a dental treat option, Greenies petite dental dog treats do the trick by helping prevent gum disease and freshening stinky doggy breath.
6. Dog Toys
Via iStock.com/Devin McMiller
There are endless options in dog toys available. It can be overwhelming to choose the right toy for your precious pup. One solution is to figure out “what your dog likes to do,” in order to narrow down the best types of types of enrichment, Terrell says.
Some small dog breeds might love to swim, while others want to chase a ball, play tug of war or just chew. Be sure to select dog toys sized appropriately for small dogs. Some fun toy options include All Kind tug & fetch tri-flyer, Frisco plush squeaking monkey or Kong plush teddy bear.
Dr. Loenser also uses “food puzzles,” such as the Nina Ottosson Outward Hound interactive dog toy, to exercise their brains and keep “my dogs busy when I’m out.”
One of the top behavioral issues Terrell sees with small dogs is house soiling.
“They have a lot harder time holding it, and it’s easier for them to go somewhere in the corner,” he explains. “So, it’s a good idea to take them outside every couple of hours.”
Make sure to stock up on dog potty training pads to help train your small breed pup and protect your floors. It also helps to have a crate, gates or playpen in your house to keep your canine a little more confined while learning to do his business outdoors.
8. Safety Items to Keep Small Dogs from Falling or Escaping
Small dogs are at risk for injuries from falls as well as escapes, Dr. Loenser says.
“Falls from even short distances, like off the bed or couch, can cause injuries to the front legs or spine,” she says. “Dogs with skinny front legs, like Italian Greyhounds, are especially at risk for fractured front legs. Dogs with long backs, like Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, and Maltese can develop slipped discs in their backs that can progress rapidly to paralysis.”
Train your small dog to use a dog ramp or stairs to get up on furniture. Use dog gates to keep them in a safe space or to block off stairs. Consider a Puppy Bumpers fence blocker to keep them from wiggling or “squeezing through” a fence or railing, Dr. Loenser adds.
9. Chic Canine Clothing
Because of their size, clothing might be more than just a fashion essential, especially for short-haired small breed dogs.
“Jackets are good as [small dogs] do get cold,” says Terrell, who also suggests “booties to protect against hot pavement in the summer and salt in the winter.”
To help keep chilly days at bay, the Frisco reversible dog puffer coat is a clothing essential to keep your small dog comfortable and warm with a soft, fleece lining.
Pet parents might fall in love with that cute small dog face, but small doesn’t mean less responsibility.
“Getting any dog is a lot of responsibility,” Terrell warns. “Make sure you have the time and the energy. Take your time and make the right choice. That being said, it’s a great thing. Dogs can teach you a lot about yourself.”
Whether big or small, picking up the essential dog supplies not only helps make being a dog parent easier, but it can help strength your bond. Happy dog parenting!
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By: Rose Sala
Featured Image: Via iStock.com/Dorottya_Mathe