Small and miniature-sized dog pet parents already know their pups are packing larger-than-life personalities but according to a new study released by Hill's Pet Nutrition and conducted in partnership with YouGov, more than half of owners aren't as familiar with the unique nutritional and physiological needs of their pocket-sized pups.
Veterinary experts at Hill's Pet Nutrition, a global leader in science-led nutrition, and celebrity groomer, Jess Rona, are teaming up to provide educational tips to help ensure these small and mighty pups receive the best possible care.
"Small and miniature sized dogs are projected to be the fastest-growing breed size over the next 5 years1," said Dr. Karen Shenoy, Hill's US chief veterinary officer. "With this breed size group on the rise, it's a great time to remind pet parents that these larger-than-life small dogs have their own unique physiology compared to large breeds, have different energy needs and can sometimes live 16 years or more–up to 75% longer than large dogs2, which means they'll consume almost twice as many meals over their lifetimes as their larger counterparts."
Dr. Shenoy along with Rona share their top tips to help small dogs shine their brightest this holiday season and beyond:
- Grooming: According to Jess: "Many pet parents are looking for stylish grooming trends during the holiday season. As people look for cheerful ways for their pet to stand out for holiday cards and gatherings, it is essential that a small dog's skin and coat is given real attention. This includes a quality diet during the winter and year-round for your dog to look healthy, withstand seasonal changes and be ready for styling. I recommend people see their groomer every 4-6 weeks depending on the breed and length of coat."
- Accessorize Appropriately: According to the Hill's study, small dog owners are 3x more likely to show their love with accessories and outfits–all part of their holiday look. Dr. Shenoy cautions that while dressing up pets can be a fun plus up for holiday gatherings and holiday card photo shoots, it's important to follow a few guidelines: ensure the outfit or accessories fit properly and do not restrict the pet's movement, check to confirm the outfit is made from non-toxic materials, monitor for signs of stress and remove the outfit if necessary, and never leave a pet unsupervised while in a special costume.
- Give The Right Sized Gift: Americans are projected to spend approximately $109 billion dollars on their pets this year3--including presents for their pets this holiday season. Dr. Shenoy reinforces the importance of giving a size appropriate toy, especially for small breed dogs. Too-big toys can be hard to hold or hard on teeth and too-small toys can be choking hazards or can result in an intestinal blockage if swallowed.
- Nutrition: Studies show that while 44% of dogs in the United States are 25 lbs and under, less than half of small dog pet parents are buying food tailored to their dog's size4. Small dogs have unique health considerations, so Dr. Shenoy recommends selecting a pet food that is formulated to meet these unique nutritional needs to help them look and feel their best.
For example, Hill's has formulated small breed dry and wet foods, created specifically to provide optimal nutrition for small dogs. Hill's "Small Paws" formulas meet the calorie requirements of small dogs and contain at least 8x more antioxidants than AAFCO requirements with vitamins C + E to help support a healthy immune system.
- Wellness: Dr. Shenoy also advises pet parents to limit holiday indulgences to keep small and miniature dogs fit and healthy. Pet parents should stick to a normal feeding schedule during the holiday season and avoid feeding human foods, especially those that are high in fat, or those that can be toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes and certain nuts.
- Common Stressors: According to Dr. Shenoy, many small dogs can be easily stressed by things like separation from their owners, loud noises, changes in routine, or visitors--all of which can occur during the holidays. Pet parents can help reduce common stressors by providing familiar human company and ensuring their small dog has a space of its own, such as a crate, carrier or mat, where they can feel safe and secure.
"Our dogs are as much a part of the holidays as any other family member," said Dr. Shenoy. "This holiday season is a great time to reinforce the importance of providing proper nutrition optimized for small and mini dogs to meet their unique requirements, provide energy to help fuel play time and to contribute to a photo-ready, radiant coat."
Hill's is dedicated to better understanding the nutritional, social, emotional and behavior needs of small breed dogs. To do this, Hill's Pet Nutrition has created a dedicated Small Paws Innovation Center--the only facility of its kind in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to small dogs. Part of the Hill's Global Pet Nutrition Center, the innovation center uses state-of-the-art technology to create specially formulated nutrition developed for the unique needs of small dogs.
For more information, visit hillspet.com/smalldog.