My husband and I brought home our shih-poo, Leaf, nearly 13 years ago when I was expecting my daughter and caring for a toddler and a pre-teen. We chose him because he is one of the breeds that are considered hypo-allergenic but also because he’s a small dog. With young children in the house, it was important to me that they weren’t be knocked down by their dog. I wanted my 12 year old son to be able to walk him easily, and I wanted smaller messes in the yard than we would get with a big dog.

60% of dog households in Canada own a small dog (35lbs or less) like us, and I imagine the reasons are similar. There are some unique needs and important traits of small dogs that everyone may not be aware of when they make the decision to welcome one into their family. Small dogs tend to live much longer than large dogs. Leaf’s breed has a life expectancy of 13-15 years, while a Great Dane’s life expectancy is just 6-7 years. Small dogs have more energy than big dogs and they also reach maturity earlier.

Leaf is in his twilight years and has been experiencing some of the challenges that come with that. He can be a little grumpy at times and his health isn’t what it used to be. He’s had a couple of surgeries to deal with bladder stones and cysts, but he recovered well. As a result, we take extra care to make sure he drinks a lot of water and he has a special food for his condition. A wet dog food is another way to get more fluid in his diet, and you can see in this video how much he enjoys Cesar!

Even without health issues, small dogs have special needs for their diets. They have small mouths and prefer small kibbles and treats. You can ensure that you are getting the best foods for your small dog by choosing brands ike CESAR®, IAMS® and PEDIGREE® who all offer specialized recipes for small dogs. Cesar® has “H:” shaped kibble specially designed for easy pick up and IAMS® and Pedigree® kibble designed for smaller jaws and easier to chew.


Small dogs can be more selective on what they want to eat. Leaf is a perfect example of this! He hates his prescription dog food, but we can entice him by adding some wet food in with it. All dogs, big and small, need proper oral care that includes brushing and choosing food and treats that support proper oral care.


One of my lucky readers will win the prize pack shown above. It includes:

Food: For optimum health, small dogs should be fed food developed for them, like recipes from Cesar®, IAMS® and PEDIGREE®. Small dogs need dry food designed to be easy to pick up and easy to chew and wet food that tastes good. More info is in the key messages!

Bowl: When you feed your small dog, you want the size of the bowl to match the size of your dog. And don’t forget to always have a dedicated water bowl that’s the right size and full of water to keep your small dog hydrated all day long.

Dog Bed: Small dog – small bed! A bed that’s too large for your dog can leave him/her feeling insecure. A bed that’s just large enough for your dog to stretch out on. Smaller dogs are also much more likely to get chilly, so it’s important to find a bed that keeps drafts to a minimum.

Poncho: In the spring and summer, your dog will likely want to play outside more, but it can be wet and rainy. To keep them warm and dry, a dog poncho is the perfect accessory. If they do get a bit wet, use a microfiber towel just for them to dry them off.

Toys: When you play with your small dog, it’s important their toys match their size. This toy launcher for small dogs provides a no slobber game of fetch with hands-free ball pick up and the mini balls are just right for your small dog’s mouth.

Treats: After playtime, treats are important but the size and way you give them is important too. This treat toy features an adjustable opening to allow you to stuff treats/kibble inside and helps turn potentially destructive chewing behaviour into positive playtime.

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Influencer at Kidsumers
Sheri McDonald is a family lifestyle blogger who has been sharing her parenting and travel adventures online for the past eight years. You can find her discovering the world with her children when she's not at home enjoying a good book.


Lifestyle Blogger. Traveler. Writer. Social Media Marketer. @SunwingVacay #Kidcations Expert Panel. Member of ITWA @PTBAssoc IG: familyenroute
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