All dogs are the same species, but there are significant differences among breeds when it comes to health conditions, rate of aging, and lifespan. Small breed dogs are known for having longer lifespans than their larger peers––in fact, nearly 40% of small breed dogs live to be at least ten, versus only 13% of giant breed dogs, according to PetMd.
Longer lifespans however do not mean that smaller dogs are any less prone to ailments. Here are five health conditions among small breed dogs that you should look out for:
1. Higher chances of adverse reactions. Because of their size and genetic makeup, small breed dogs are more likely to have toxic reactions to certain drugs, chemicals, and vaccinations. If your dog needs multiple vaccinations, try to schedule them for different days. If you’re giving her medication that was not prescribed (for example, Benadryl, which can be safe for dogs as long as given properly), consult with your veterinarian first to make sure you know the correct dosage to give.
2. Propensity for oral health problems. Small breeds, due to genetics and tooth alignments, are more prone to dental disease than larger breeds. Practicing good oral hygiene with your dog from an early age is your best defense––try to brush his teeth everyday, give dental chews, and see a veterinarian at lease once a year for a professional cleaning. Signs that your pet’s teeth are in trouble are noticeable tartar, bad breath, loose teeth, and bleeding gums.
3. Hypoglycemia. This is most common in toy breed and small breed puppies, and refers to a quick drop in blood sugar that is usually the result of stress. Animal medical experts believe it is a result of critical enzymes––those that help the body break down glucose–– not being fully developed yet. Symptoms are lethargy, listlessness, and loss of appetite. If you notice any telling signs you need to visit the vet immediately. There is no way to control the onset, so it’s best to just be hypervigiliant.
4. Homeostasis imbalance. Smaller dogs have a harder time adjusting to temperature extremes than larger dogs, whose bodies are better able to adapt to fluctuations and environmental changes. Combat against rapid body heat loss in colder temps by purchasing your dog a jacket and providing access to plenty of warm blankets. When it’s hot outside, as you should with any animal, provide plenty of access to shade and fresh water.
5. Proneness to urinary issues. Small––especially toy––breeds are more prone to urinary tract infections and kidney stones. Vets attribute this to their increased emotional sensitivity, which can lead to behavioral urine issues, as well as smaller bladders and just plain old genetics. Good diet and a regular veterinary check-up routine can help curb these issues, or at least allow you to notice any changes as soon as possible.
Though these problems are seen commonly in smaller breed dogs, just because a dog is small does not mean she will experience any of them. Healthy lifestyles––from food to hygiene to exercise to veterinary care––are all crucial in keeping your small breed dog healthy and letting her live a long and happy life.