Small Town News


Extra vigilance and care are needed for healthy tiny pets

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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So many people are getting little dogs today, some so tiny they're not much bigger than a small bunny and considerably smaller than some of the hares that feed the coyotes and predator birds.

Little dogs are wonderful companions to people who have the right circumstances but half-acre-plus properties in which these tiny ones are free to roam are not ideal and hold staggering risks to the tiny ones in the canine world. All dogs need our care and protection but little dogs and puppies hold extra concerns and warrant extra caution.

Many little dogs have no idea that they are vulnerable. Some little dogs have the good sense to stay close to their humans and seek protection, but many have attitudes that get them in serious trouble if left unchecked. They can also be oblivious to the dangers around them. Licking a toad might seem like fun to them, but the results could be devastating and even fatal.

Some of the wild animals in our towns have become so accustomed to being around people that they have become bold, finding their way into backyards and walking down suburban streets. If you have a little dog, consider that your four or five-foot fence may keep your dog from getting out, but it won't keep predators from getting in.

Extremely little dogs really are best as house pets. There are just too many dangers for them to be outdoors and off leash. When unattended, keep their outside world confined to a small, fenced area where they can't get out and no outside predators can get in. Often this means covering the area with chicken wire or some other protective covering.

Keep all areas free of debris where spiders and vermin can nest. We have some venomous snakes, toxic toads, unpleasant spiders and stinging, biting bugs around here. A spider bite that makes a big dog sick can kill a little dog. It's poison going into a lot less body so be sure to keep your house and yard cleared of hiding places. If your pet is small enough to get under the furniture, make a habit of cleaning there, too.

Use common sense and caution in allowing your dogs to roam on large properties. Keeping a little dog safe usually means constant supervision or confinement to restricted areas. They should never be tethered outdoors where they could easily fall prey to birds, wild animals or other dogs. Even large dogs are vulnerable when they re tethered.

Walking and hiking with a little dog should be controlled. It's tempting to let them run around enjoying the great outdoors. But leash laws aside, unless you're in a controlled environment like a dog park with an area or time slot for little dogs, save the wild running around for home patio and play dates with friends.

If you do let your dog off leash in a dog park or play group or for any reason, make sure it is trained reliably to recall. It's important for any dog, regardless of size, to learn to come on command and to do so at all times, under all circumstances. It's particularly important for little dogs that don't have the ability to defend themselves against larger animals. Things can happen quickly and suddenly.

Don't let your floor get cluttered with bits and pieces of every day life. Children in particular tend to drop things on the floor and leave them there. Plastic toys that can be chewed up, crayons, bits of ribbon or paints from art projects are all things that can be harmful.

Teach children to be gentle with all animals. Rough handling is not appropriate and can make an animal bite or scratch. It can also cause injury to the animal. Puppies, kittens and small dogs are the most vulnerable but no animal should be handled roughly.

Little hairless breeds feel the cold easily and can dehydrate quickly in the heat so make sure you have a temperature controlled environment for them. In the summer, sometimes our air conditioned comfort is cold to them. If you see your little dog shivering, put it in a sweater or coat and make sure there's access to a warm, cozy bed.

Paws Around Town was written this week by Nadia Caillou, an animal care specialist and co-owner of a pet store in Sedona.

Copyright 2015 The Camp Verde Journal, Camp Verde, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: May 6, 2015

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