Small Dog Health


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Health Risks of Small Dog Breeds

As dog owners of small dog breeds, we tend to think of our cute little dogs as part of the family. For that reason, to make their lives as easy and light as possible, we need to take care of them the best we can. Scheduled appointments with the vet, regular walks, love and care are just a beginning. Many dog owners feel that taking care of their dogs is the same for all breeds, but they are wrong. Big and small dog breeds have different likes and dislikes, they are built different, and, therefore, differ on health problems. Here are health risks you need to keep in mind when owning a small breed dog:

Teeth and skin condition

Credit: Nancy Houser

Since your little dog has high immune system sensitivity it is possible that he will experience skin allergies. These allergies are often triggered by contact with specific foods, inhalation or maybe even flea bites. Don’t forget to keep your dog’s dental hygiene in check as small breeds are prone to developing a form of dental disease as they age. Apart from skin and teeth care, what you should keep in mind are most often conditions that usually afflict smaller dog breeds.


Most puppy births are problematic for small dogs; they have narrow pelvic opening which makes them unable to extend for prolonged periods. To help your dog not suffer, it is best to consult a veterinarian and decide to go with a C-section (Cesarean section). They are very common with small breeds of dogs or dogs with breathing problems, such as English Bulldogs or Pugs. If you own a Boston Terrier, Pug or a Toy Poodle, note that these breeds in particular have birthing issues.

Brachiocephalic problems

You may find it adorable that your Shih Tzus, Pekingese or Pug has a “squashed” face, but things are not that peachy. That type of face prevents them from breathing normally which is why you’ll often hear them snort, heavily pant or wheeze. Also, small dog breeds tend to develop a problem of collapsing trachea. This condition is notable for symptoms like shortness of breath, exhaustion, coughing. This can be treated with proper medication prescribed by the vet.


Credit: Wikipedia

Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is not that rare an issue when it comes to toy breeds of dogs. The way to spot hypoglycemia in your dog is limpness or rigidity, staggering gait and glassy eyes. If you don’t treat the illness the moment you spot it, small dog breeds are in danger of suffering unconsciousness, seizures and even death. If there is no time to run to the vet the second your little dog gets worse, put some sugar in his mouth and run to the clinic. If the vet establishes your dog in has hypoglycemia, he will advise you on changing of dog’s feeding schedule, as well as the type of food the small breed of dog needs, from that moment on, in order to avoid future problems.

Urinary tract issues

Toy breeds and small dog breeds often suffer urinary tract issues. This origin can be:

1. physical – an infection in urinary tract that could even lead to formation of bladder stones

2. behavioral – due to their emotional sensitivity

Have regular check-ups with the vet and he will know what to do and how to treat the problem.

Patellar Luxation Condition

Smaller dog breeds are unable to tolerate pain longer, and the problem of limping and knee dislocation shouldn’t be neglected. Be careful not to drop your dog from dog carriers or from your arms as their bones are really fragile and can easily break.

Homeostasis imbalance

Credit: Nancy Houser

As small breeds of dogs are lighter in built, their bodies heat easier. Exposing your smaller dog to temperature extremes (either hot or cold) is a serious threat to its health. Small breed dogs are in jeopardy with sudden temperature changes to the extent of suddenly dying. So, have in mind that, unlike big breeds that easily adjust to extreme environmental changes, small breed breeds cannot even tolerate fluctuations easily. A piece of advice: Before buying small dog breeds, do research on its particular breed and consult with the vet about potential problems, health issues, lifestyle and similar.

Author bio: Diana Smith is a great dog lover and proud owner of German Shepherd “Billy” and apricot Poodle “Sam”. She is interested in topics related to dog’s health and alternative medicine for pets. You can visit her favorite pet store here.

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WayCoolDog articles are re-posted with the permission of Nancy Houser of WayCoolDogs © 2009 – 2014