They may be small, but small dogs have enormous characters - no wonder they make up over half of the UK's top ten dog breeds .
On average, small dog breeds live 10 to 15 years, much longer than their larger cousins . It's not uncommon for some small dogs like Jack Russell Terriers or Border Terriers to live to 18 years - the lifespan we'd expect of a cat rather than a dog!
It's heartwarming to know that our little pups could be with us for so long, but those extra years come with a downside. These long-lived pooches are considered geriatric longer than a larger breed dog, and their joints need extra support to carry them through those extra years.
Osteoarthritis and other joint ailments can be extremely painful for your dog, and years of hobbling around is no fun. But no fear! There are many ways to keep your small dog mobile and supporting their joint health for many happy, active years.
The pet supplement industry is full of myths and exaggerated claims, making it very difficult to understand which supplement is best for your small dog. Look for a shared supplement with quality clinical research that is peer-reviewed and free to read.
The ingredients should be readily bioavailable (so your dog only needs a small amount to see results). Some supplements claim to be very effective, but you actually need large amounts to see clinical changes.
Regularly feeding your dog an effective and clinically proven joint supplement can be life-changing. With the right supplementation, you can see a difference in a matter of weeks!
For dogs that already have osteoarthritis, studies have shown that losing as little as 5% of body weight can improve lameness scores and help dogs lead a more comfortable life.
Keeping your small dog at a healthy weight isn't all about diets and restricted feeding (although they are important). It can be fun for both of you!
Try these ideas to increase your dog's activity level and keep him moving.
Go on adventures
- This is one of the most obvious ways to improve mobility, but according to the PDSA's most recent PAW report, there is still a small percentage of dogs that never walk, or walk them only once a week. Even if your dog suffers from walking difficulties due to age or injury, a short step out is an advantage. If you're looking to increase the time you walk your dog, do so gradually over a few weeks and avoid walking after a meal or when it's hot.
Scatter Feeding and Puzzle Feeders
- One of the easiest ways to increase your small dog's activity level is by using puzzle bowls and litter feeding. Not only is this good for increasing activity levels and helping your dog lose weight, it's also fun for your dog and helps with mental agility.
- Having objects on the floor for your dog to step over, such as broomsticks, will increase the range of motion of your dog's joints beyond what they would normally do during the day. This keeps them fit and stretches their limbs, creating more freedom of movement in the joints and preventing them from becoming stiff.
Professional and home rehabilitation therapy
- Who doesn't love a massage? Your dog will appreciate a little pampering too, and therapy is incredibly effective at helping and maintaining your dog's mobility. We encourage you to seek professional assistance from a qualified therapist, but there are exercises you can do with your dog at home. (Always check with your veterinarian or rehabilitation team to make sure these exercises are appropriate for your dog.)
- Static stretches can help loosen up a dog that suffers from mobility issues. As with any new exercise or workout, make sure you use a tasty treat and start small to stretch over longer periods of time. If your dog shows signs of discomfort or unwillingness to continue, stop and try again another day. Gently driving your dog's limbs through a "passive range of motion" can help gently stretch the limbs without extending them beyond a normal range of motion. Try these simple stretching exercises at home.
- Get your dog to move from lying to sitting to standing and back again. Although these exercises are simple, they help build strength in the movements your dog relies on every day.
- If your dog is struggling, you may need to help gently lift him under his belly to help him stand up, paying attention to your dog's comfort. Always have a tasty (but healthy) treat with you.
- Veterinary rehabilitation therapists support dogs throughout their lives, especially after an injury. As your dog gets older, therapists can use a variety of techniques and tools to help your dog remain active and more comfortable.
- Read more about how a rehabilitation therapist can support your dog here .
Small dogs bring boundless energy and love into your home, and it's heartbreaking to see them slow down as they get older. But age doesn't mean you can't still have tons of fun together. With these tips, you and your mini pooch can stay active and continue your adventure together.
Want to learn more about what causes mobility issues in small dogs? Read our article here .
Find out how Antinol has helped other small breed dogs on their mobility journey here .
Why not start with Bella's story? You can find it here .
Learn more about Antinol and how it can support your small dog's long-term joint health here .