The Maltese is a member of the toy group and typically weighs between 3 and 7 pounds. Because of their small size, puppies should not leave the breeder before they are 12 weeks old, since a move can cause them to become stressed and stop eating, according to the American Maltese Association. Maltese, as with many toy breeds, are more susceptible to hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, than other breeds. If they don't eat regularly they can can easily die. This is a particularly big problem in young puppies, but can affect older pups and adult dogs as well. Feeding them a good diet on a regular basis is essential for keeping them healthy.
Select a good brand of premium dry dog food that does not contain a lot of filler or additives. The American Maltese Association suggests that you ask your veterinarian for a brand recommendation, and advises you should never use a generic brand of food. Another excellent resource is the breeder from whom you got your dog, especially if you are just bringing home a new puppy, since Maltese will do best if they continue to eat the food they are used to when they move to a new home. Leave dry food out where it will be accessible to hungry dogs anytime. Use puppy food for young Maltese and adult kibble for older ones, if your dogs are grazers and prefer to eat a little at a time, as some dogs do.
If you prefer to feed your Maltese canned food only, find a food that is balanced and complete. While you may wish to use canned food for each scheduled meal, fed once or twice each day, it is still important to leave out dry dog food so that your pet can snack at any time of the day or night, thus avoiding the chance of incurring hypoglycemia. Instead of canned dog food, try meat baby foods, which is especially helpful for young puppies or sick dogs, since they will often eat this even when they won’t eat other foods.
For owners who prefer a more natural diet, you can formulate one from ingredients purchased at the grocery store. Such diets may include raw chicken necks, ground up along with the raw bones for a smaller dog like your Maltese, chopped vegetables, cooked beef or chicken, boiled beef liver, cottage cheese and a vitamin supplement. Dr. Tamara Hebbler, a veterinarian with a holistic practice in California called Healing Hope, believes raw foods are best for dogs and a cooked diet of any kind is less desirable. A raw diet usually consists of about 65 to 85 percent meat, 5 to 10 percent organ meat, 20 to 30 percent raw vegetables, up to 10 percent cooked grains or potatoes, and up to 5 percent fruit and nuts. If you choose either a raw diet or to cook food for your Maltese, always follow food handling precautions such as keeping the ingredients refrigerated and always clean up with hot, soapy water.
Foods to Avoid
Maltese have tiny stomachs and sensitive digestive systems, and they can become ill if fed the wrong foods. The American Maltese Association says that you should never feed your Maltese table scraps or cooked bones, but only a high-quality dog food. Cooked bones can be harmful to dogs since they often splinter or have sharp ends. In addition, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists many foods that no dog should ever eat. Some of the common foods on this list are raisins, onions, chocolate, macadamia nuts, alcohol and avocados. Due to the small size of this breed, even a tiny amount of these toxic foods can kill a Maltese dog.
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