While Labradors have topped the American Kennel Club’s list of popular dogs for more than two decades, small dogs are gaining ground. Out of the top ten breeds, four – Yorkshire terriers, Dachshunds, Poodles (the category includes standards and miniatures), and Shih Tzus — are small breeds. The dog that made the largest jump in popularity 2009? The Havanese, which weighs between seven and 13 pounds.

Small dogs make great companions for a reason. Many are smart, personable and ideally sized for apartment living. But small dogs do come with special needs, and owners should be aware of them. For example, due to the small size of their mouths, dogs under 20 pounds have a greater risk of dental problems.

small dog breeds

Owners of small dogs should be extra diligent about their pets’ oral hygiene. Scheduling regular check-ups can help vets catch problems in tooth and jaw development. Those with puppies should pay attention when their dogs start losing their milk teeth. If adult teeth don’t emerge from the gums, there could be a problem requiring a vet visit.

Adult dog owners should examine their dogs’ gums for signs of infection, like discoloration or bleeding. Abnormalities may be signs of periodontal disease, which requires treatment by a veterinarian.

Prevention is just as important as detection. Brushing pets’ teeth daily is one of the best ways to maintain oral health, but many dogs won’t tolerate brushing. For dogs that are temperamental about pet owners or vets touching their teeth, a simple and effective solution can be found using a new type of probiotics, that has been designed specifically for the oral care needs of dogs and cats. These probiotics can be used in addition to brushing or as a stand-alone oral care routine if brushing is not an option. Owners simply sprinkle the odorless, tasteless product on their pets’ food, making it the easiest step toward protecting pets’ mouths.