Puppy Care 101 – Small Breed Dogs

Thank you for visiting. You’re either reading this because you just got a new toy breed puppy, or planning on getting a new toy breed puppy. Well, you’ve come to the right place. These small dog breeds need special attention and care when they are puppies. Within this article, you will get thorough instructions on almost everything you need to know to ensure your toy breed dog stays healthy, along with tips on potty training. Please keep in mind that this article was not written by a veterinarian. The information from this article is my opinion which comes from years of personal research and experience dealing specifically with toy breed dogs. Always consult a veterinarian for any questions regarding your dog.

We personally own Yorkshire Terriers (Yorkies), and have grown a vast amount of experience dealing with this fantastic breed. Below is our sweetie, “Munchkin”, weighing in at just 1.5 lbs at over a year old. Despite her weight, she’s as healthy as can be.

The following information can pertain to any toy breed dog. There are countless joys of owning these little guys and girls, however, toy breeds need special attention during the young stages of their life. From young, we are referring to 8 weeks to one year old. If you have come across a breeder that sells pups before they are 8 weeks old, LEAVE! Small breed dogs must stay with their mothers for AT LEAST 8 weeks. Preferably, a puppy can leave their mothers at around 10-12 weeks. You can read more about choosing the right toy dog breeder here.


The most important condition to look out for when you first get your puppy is known as hypoglycemia. This condition appears most frequently in toy breed dogs such as Yorkies, Maltese, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas etc. According to the US National Laboratory of Medicine, hypoglycemia is the sudden drop in the concentration of glucose (sugar) in the blood below normal levels. Although most commonly seen in puppies 5-16 weeks of age, adult “teacup” dogs can encounter this problem if not properly cared for. This condition occurs more frequently in smaller dogs due to the lack of muscle mass of “teacup” dogs. Less muscle mass equates to a tougher time in storing glucose, making toy dog breed more susceptible to hypoglycemia.

Your pup’s body utilizes glucose as the main source of energy. As long as your puppy eats on a regular basis (see the section on feeding below), their glucose levels should remain stable. However, certain events can speed up the onset of hypoglycemia such as stress, low body temperature, poor nutrition, change in food, and infections. (Please read below on easing your puppy into their new environment). Signs of hypoglycemia include laziness, lethargicness, drowsiness, stumbling around, shivering, depression, and in severe cases, a coma like state. One of the best methods for checking hypoglycemia involves feeling the gums. A healthy puppy’s gums will feel warm and have a nice pink color. If your puppy’s gums feel cold and look white, your puppy could be experiencing hypoglycemia.

If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms, immediately feed them a high sugar supplement such as Karo syrup, Nutra-Cal or Nutri-Stat. Karo syrup can be found at most grocery stores, and the other two supplements at most pet stores. Since Karo syrup is mainly composed of glucose, this would be the preferred supplement to treat hypoglycemia. Simply place a dab of Karo syrup on your fingertip and allow the puppy to lick it off. Sometimes a puppy will refuse to lick the syrup from your finger. In this instance, gently open the puppy’s mouth and scrape the syrup off the back of their front teeth and allow them to swallow. Repeat the process a couple times until the gums turn back to normal, or until the above symptoms have passed. Most puppies can recover from mild hypoglycemia within 10-20 minutes. In severe cases where your puppy appears to be going into a coma like state, immediately bring them into to your local animal hospital while having a passenger force feeding them with Karo syrup on your way there.

All in all, severe and non-severe cases of hypoglycemia can be avoided by:

1. Paying close attention to your little puppy

2. Proper feeding

3. Rest

We recommend checking their gums every few hours just to ensure that your little one stays healthy. If you work during the day, come back at lunch or as often as you can to check on your puppy’s health. The next section will discuss methods on easing a puppy into a new environment to help alleviate rapid onsets of hypoglycemia.

The First Few Days After You Bring Your Puppy Home

When you first bring your new puppy home, they may experience some nervousness in their new environment. Everything from new sights, smells and people can be peculiar to your new puppy. You should allow them to explore their new surroundings and encourage them to play. Speaking quietly and calmly can help alleviate some nervousness and accommodate them to your voice. With a little patience, your new puppy will soon become acclimated to their new environment and enjoying their new home.

Purchasing a playpen will come in handy at night and at times where you cannot keep a good eye on your dog. Keeping your puppy in a playpen is not cruel; it only keeps them from getting into trouble when you can’t keep a proper watch over your dog. Remember, puppy’s can cause mischief faster than you can blink!

A good size playpen for toy breed puppies is about 3′ x 5′. Even a bit smaller size playpen will suffice. The point is to give your new puppy a nice place sleep and play, along with an area to go potty. Any larger, and your puppy can confuse where they sleep and where they use the bathroom. A bed for small dogs along with some soft baby blankets will be adequate for a sleep and play area. Also give your new pup some plush toys specifically for small dogs to play with. On the opposite side of the playpen, place a puppy potty pad or a few pieces of newspaper for them to handle their bathroom business. It is important to keep the bathroom area as far away from the sleep and play area. This helps them to discern where they should sleep and where they should go potty. A nice gadget to go along with the puppy potty pads is a potty pad holder. These work great on preventing them from shredding up newspapers and pee pads.

When it comes to bed time, your puppy will be accustomed to sleeping with their brothers and sisters. The abruptness of sleeping alone can invoke a feeling of loneliness causing them to cry for the first few nights. When your puppy cries out, simply touch their nose and tell them ‘no’ in a soft but stern voice. Many people make the mistake of running to hold their puppy as soon as they hear crying. However, you are actually letting them know that crying gets them what they want. In this situation, your new puppy is training YOU!

Source by Michael P. Hsiao

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Written by frank


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