Little Dog, Big World

Is your dog smaller than your cat? With the enormous popularity of small breed dogs comes a world of different challenges that we, as human beings, can never imagine. We can’t fully put ourselves in the place of our 3-10 lb companions and envision what they have to deal with every day as they navigate life in our human-sized world. These pint-sized dogs have special needs that are often overlooked, even by the most well-intentioned caretaker. One of the most important concerns is getting around- from couch to floor, from sidewalk to car, even out for a walk during the day. Paying attention to a few things that one might overlook with a larger dog will go a long way in keeping your pint-sized pup safe.

Every time your small/toy breed dog takes an exuberant leap off of your bed or sofa into or out of a vehicle or off of that favorite park bench, the impact on his joints is almost equal to that of a person jumping from a one-story building. When you think how many times in a day your dog might make such a jump, you can begin to imagine what kind of damage may be caused by such actions. Small breeds are prone to sprains; luxating patella (a knee injury); avascular necrosis of the femoral head, which basically means that the head of the femur rots due to the pressure of repeating jumping; and disc issues (this is especially a concern for Dachshunds).

So what can you do to keep your wee companion safe? In the home, you can train your pet to stay off the furniture and provide him with comfortable pet beds. If she absolutely must share a seat with you, there are many dog-specific stairs or ramps that are built to sit against your furniture (or your vehicle) for this very purpose. They come in a variety of sizes and designs. Most puppies will catch on very quickly to using the ramp or stairs; an older dog can be coaxed up with a few yummy treats and will soon be using them like an old pro.

If you live in a city environment, please take care, when you walk your small breed during the day, to avoid crowded pedestrian areas! The chances of your dog accidentally getting stepped on are high, as brisk walkers may not see your pooch on the sidewalk. If needed, carry him to a grassy park and let him romp there (on leash, of course!).

Please remember that even though your dog is tiny, she is still a dog and ought to learn manners and polite behavior around people and other dogs. Her small stature also doesn’t mean she’s limited to playing only with dogs her own size! This is a very common misconception that some toy breed owners have. If there is a gentle, well-mannered larger dog, there is no issue with allowing your dog to meet and greet. Common sense is the key in any situation; please ask owners about their dog’s personality before allowing dogs to socialize.

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