Raising Tiny Dogs

I was talking to a friend last week who has a litter of three Chihuahuas - they were 11 weeks old, and the biggest one was only 1.5 pounds! Raising a puppy that is less than two pounds takes a special skill and desire. Most do not want to have “teacup” dogs, but occasionally we get one in a litter. A recent conversation with a breeder who specializes in tiny dogs made me realize how little information is available.

The less-than-two-pound puppy needs to get on food and stay on food. They wean later in life, often near 8 weeks. Eating is not different from other puppies, but with tiny puppies, they have little body mass for backup. They need multiple meals a day, and missing a meal makes them prone to hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is best prevented with high calorie supplements, two or three times a day, with soft food and granular vitamins several times a day. They should also have small kibble dry food in front of them at all times. There are several supplements that are helpful with weaning, and I would not hesitate to put them into your regimen:

  • Forti-Cal nutritional supplement – Give it to them twice a day minimum, and be sure to feed them afterwards. The vitamins are what are important here; the calories are just a plus. It can also be used for fast energy and strength if you do see hypoglycemia. Forti-Cal is not just helpful at weaning; it should be used for several months after sale, as well.
  • Rice baby cereal keeps bulk in the diet and needs to be used after the puppy is hypoglycemic. A three-day course is best, twice a day. The cereal moves easily through a syringe and you can add Forti-Cal and granular vitamins to it if you want. This helps keep the intestine moving and the appetite up. If they are on a lot of high calorie supplements, vitamins are important.
  • Puppies are born with a sterile gut – no bacteria. During the first few days, the mother will seed the puppy with good bacteria (probiotics) while cleaning and mothering them, giving them the ammo to fight against invading bacteria. That's why it's important to give probiotics to orphans or problem puppies the first few days and whenever they have GI upset. It's also helpful during weaning to prevent diarrhea. All products are helpful so choose your favorite. I like GI Synbiotics and give it daily when needed.
  • Stay away from prophylactic antibiotics! Antibiotics interrupt the GI flora and good bacteria they need. If absolutely needed, you can use them - but not without a reason.

The tiny dog demands special care and attention to thrive. By providing enough nutrients, you can consistently raise healthy dogs and make sure they'll provide someone with a new best friend!

For tips and information on how to give vaccines to tiny dogs, read Vaccinating Tiny Dogs.


If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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