By Dr Punith G*
Nothing lifts your mood more than cuddling with your small dog after a long day of work. Pet parenting is riding the trend wave and there is a greater demand of people choosing smaller breeds. Research shows that the population of small breeds is on the rise in many countries and, owing to this trend, some breeders are looking to create smaller versions of popular breeds. Small breeds are more fun to play with, are super active and make the best snuggle buddies.
Generally, defined as dog breeds that weigh only 25 pounds or under, when they become grown adults, small breeds are also considered as miniatures, toys or companion dogs that have their own unique needs when it comes to nutrition. In addition to this, the other factors that determine nutrition are breed, biology and disposition. Small breed dogs are becoming more popular these days, since they are a complete package, requiring less space and are best suited for cities and apartment living. They tend to live longer, are more suitable companions to travel with, need less exercise and are overall low-maintenance.
Special Nutritional Needs for Small Breeds
The major concern with small breeds is their small jaws, making it imperative that the kibble size fits their jaws easing out the chewing process. Small breed puppies have a high metabolism, which helps them burn calories quickly, often in just a few hours. Consequently, they need to consume more calories per pound of body weight than large-breed pups.
Small-breed dogs should ideally eat smaller, calorie-dense meals with high-quality proteins and fats at least three or four times a day for optimal health. Otherwise, they can tend to show signs of low blood sugar, fatigue, weakness, muscle tremors or even seizures.
You can make your little guy’s food available throughout the day as a “24-hour buffet”, so they can access their smaller, bite-sized meals whenever they’re hungry. Learning good eating habits from the start can help keep your puppy from over-indulging later in his life.
Irrespective of the breed size, dogs always require fatty acids in their diet to ensure healthy skin and coat. Besides this, fats can add flavour to the food and help in better palatability, provide a lot of energy and help the pet in absorbing certain fat-soluble vitamins.
Small breeds tend to grow pretty fast and they will reach maturity even before their first birthday. They live a longer life when compared to medium and large dog breeds, hence it is essential to provide them with the right amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help in living a stress-free life.
Major Benefits of Having Small Breeds
There are plenty of benefits to parenting a small breed. The growing population of nuclear families and urbanisation has increased the demand for these small pets. Small breeds are a wholesome package and also reduce the burden on pet parents, since they are less expensive to feed. They need less space and are better suited for the apartments’ dwellers. They are not only cute, but they can also protect their parents with a loud bark. These furry friends are easy to handle, make better travel companions, need less exercise and, what’s more, giving them a bath as well as dressing them up is far easier versus the bigger ones.
All in all, while parenting a small dog, ensure that your pooch is fed the right nutrition, and given enough exercise and routine care that’s just their size because little dogs need a little extra!
*(MVSc, Animal Nutrition) Asst. Product and Technocommercial Manager, Drools Pet Food Pvt Ltd.