Not all small dogs have the same nutritional needs. Giving your dog a food specially formulated for her size and activity level is the easiest way to make sure you’re providing complete and balanced nutrition. Here’s how to provide the right nutrition for your small dog.
How to Select a Food for Your Small-breed Dog
Small adult dogs require a food that offers complete nutrients essential for health and vitality. Here’s what to look for:
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for a healthy skin, a shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscles
- A fiber source to promote intestinal health, enhance nutrient absorption and reduce backyard cleanup
- A special carbohydrate blend of select healthy grains to help maintain normal blood sugar levels for sustained energy
These ingredients are the keys to nutrition whether you feed dry or wet dog food or give your dog treats.
Dietary Considerations for Small-Breed Dogs
Small dogs have small mouths and stomachs. You may want to feed your dog a formula with a small bite size for easy chewing. A nutrient-dense food will help make sure she’s absorbing essential nutrients even though her stomach can only accommodate what seems like a small volume of food.
When choosing a food for your small-breed dog, also ask:
- Has she been spayed, is she not getting enough exercise or is she overweight?
- Is she about to have puppies?
- Is she considered mature or senior (7 years or older)?
Special conditions like these dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands.
Controlling Your Small Dog’s Weight
Less-active dogs and dogs who have been neutered or spayed are prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against complications of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-control food, look for these ingredients:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition for Pregnant Small-Breed Dogs
Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it’s important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced small-breed puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Unlike larger dogs that are considered mature at age 5, your small dog can remain on an adult diet until age 7. In fact, small-breed dogs tend to live longer and don’t experience age-related changes as early as bigger dogs. However, it is important to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Small & Toy Breed, so you can help keep your dog healthy and active for years to come.
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What Is Bloat?
Bloat is a life-threatening condition that acts rapidly and can lead to death within hours if not recognized and treated immediately. Unfortunately, the cause of bloat remains unknown at this time.
The scientific term for bloat is gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV. Bloat is characterized by rapid and abnormal expansion of the stomach with gas (dilatation). This can be followed by rotation of the stomach (volvulus). This rotation closes both the entry to and exit from the stomach. The blood vessels also are closed down, and blood flow is restricted.
What follows is an increase in pressure inside the stomach and compression of the surrounding organs. Eventually, shock will occur as a result of the restricted blood flow. Here are a few key facts about bloat:
- Bloat should always be treated as a medical emergency.
- Bloat can kill a dog within hours after onset.
- The cause of bloat is unknown.
- Bloat affects 36,000 dogs in the United States each year; 30% die as a result of this condition.
- Bloat can occur in dogs of any age.
- Certain breeds are more susceptible to bloat, particularly deep-chested dogs.
- The stomach rapidly expands with gas then rotates on the long axis. Entry to and exit from the stomach is prohibited, causing blood vessels to close and restriction of blood flow.
Signs of Bloat
Bloat is a true medical emergency, and early identification and treatment is critical to survival.
In the early stages of bloat, the dog will be very uncomfortable. You might see him pacing and whining or trying unsuccessfully to get into a comfortable position. He might seem anxious, might lick or keep staring at his stomach, and might attempt to vomit, without success.
Other indications of bloat can include weakness, swelling of the abdomen, and even signs of shock. Signs of shock are increased heart rate and abnormally rapid breathing.
If you notice these signs, call your veterinarian immediately!
- Inability to get comfortable
- Pacing or restlessness
- Pale gums
- Unproductive attempts to vomit
- Abnormally rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Pain, weakness
- Swelling of the abdomen (particularly the left side)
Helping Prevent Bloat
These suggestions could help you prevent bloat in your dog. However, they are based on suspected risk factors and are not guaranteed to prevent the onset of bloat.
- Feed small amounts of food frequently, two to three times daily.
- Avoid exercise for one hour before and two hours after meals.
- Don't let your dog drink large amounts of water just before or after eating or exercise.
- If you have two or more dogs, feed them separately to avoid rapid, stressful eating.
- If possible, feed at times when after-feeding behavior can be observed.
- Avoid abrupt diet changes.
- If you see signs of bloat, call your veterinarian immediately.
Another way you might help prevent bloat is to feed a high-quality, highly digestible food with normal fiber levels.
Feeding management offers the best method available for reducing risk until the exact cause of bloat can be identified. Although not 100% effective, these measures can reduce the number of dogs that face this serious, life-threatening condition.
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