Although your small dog may think they have the bark of a Doberman and the stride of a Great Dane, obviously… they are not the same.. But, their small stature and extra spunk are not the only characteristics setting small dogs apart from their large breed counterparts. As the caregiver for a smaller breed, it is also important to be mindful of your dog’s nutrition. There are a few major factors unique to smaller breeds including: digestive anatomy, metabolism, nutrient requirements, accumulation of toxicity, and susceptibility to dental problems.
Small Dog Digestive Anatomy
All dogs are classified as carnivores, but they can somewhat adapt to omnivorous diets and kibble. However, just because your dog can be sustained on dry kibble it doesn’t mean such a diet is ideal. Dogs have short digestive tracts, which are ideal for digesting protein. Short digestive tracts are not as good, on the other hand, for digesting complex carbohydrates which require longer digestion time and greater intestinal length.
To get started on a more ideal diet for your dog, look into a homemade BARF diet. More articles on raw feeding for small dogs are going to be published here soon, so be sure to subscribe to stay updated and learn more.
Small Dog Metabolism
Small dogs require more calories per pound than their large breed counterparts, but why? Because small dogs have higher metabolic rates than larger breeds. A higher metabolism means smaller dogs require greater water per body weight. If small dogs don’t meet their metabolic needs, they are susceptible to hypoglycemia – weakness, lethargy and possible weight loss. Despite this, weight loss in small dogs is not as common as overfeeding. It seems that many dog guardians do not have a good understanding of what the right amount of food is, and small dogs are often overweight. Further, many dog owners do not know what the optimal body weight for their dog is.
Small Dog Nutrient Requirements
A faster metabolism means small dogs have higher requirements of essential nutrients. As nutrients are consumed (metabolized) faster, nutrients are cleared faster via respiration, urination defecation, etc. With this in mind, all necessary measures need to be taken in order to assure your dog is receiving the optimum amount of nutrients. Here are the most important nutrient and supplement categories:
Important for better hydration, better digestion and nutrient absorption, shinier healthier and richer coat, better energy/stamina, improved mobility, and joint health. However, there is a difference between indigestible ground up rock (synthetically made vitamins) and easily absorbed high quality all natural mineral supplements for dogs.
Vitamins can be divided into two main groups:
- Synthetic, which the body does not have a good ability to process, causing stomach upsets, or
- Whole-food based certified organic vitamins for dogs that are easily absorbed by small dogs.
Many people do not understand that when it comes to omegas or essential fatty acids, the only group that needs to be supplemented are Omega-3’s. Choosing a good omega-3 source can be a challenge because many sources are either high in mercury or contain radioactive pollution.
Omega-3’s are essential for cellular health, your dog’s skin, coat, brain, and nerves. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect. It is important to find a safe and sustainable omega-3 source because small dogs are much more sensitive to toxins.
Probiotics are necessary not only to balance and protect the digestive tract, but they are also important to strengthen the immune system and prevent cancer. A healthy immune system is crucial to a dog’s health and longevity.
Small dogs, in general, are sensitive to many probiotic products that are on the market, specifically dairy probiotics. Most available probiotics are targeted toward human use, that is why is is crucial to source a certified organic probiotic that is specially formulated for dogs.
Toxins affect small dogs much more than larger dogs because of their size. Think about dropping food dye into a cup vs. a pool. The cup will show a concentrated color from the dye but in the pool it will be virtually undetectable. The same is true with dogs. One of the ways of measuring toxins is to hair test your dog. By hair testing your dog, you are provided with an indication of the long-term effects of diet and toxic metal exposure your dog is subjected to.
Small Dog Dental Considerations
Small dogs are much more susceptible to dental problems than large dogs. They require a diligent dental cleaning regimen and greatly benefit from raw bone feeding. Ideally, avoid “raw hide bones,” plastic chew toys made in China and processed dental dog food. They often contain chemicals harmful to your dog. Your dog’s dental care should include regular dental exams, some hand scaling by a trained professional and bone feeding. In some cases, dental cleaning under anesthesia may be necessary to prevent spread of bacteria in the body. Such bacterial spread often causes heart and kidney damage in small dogs.
To summarize, while small dogs have certain specific needs, they also share a lot of the same nutritional needs as all dogs. To learn more about how to prevent disease and keep your dog healthy and long living, you can register for a free Health and Longevity course for dogs.