Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in Toy Breed Dogs

The creation of different dog breeds represents centuries of selective breeding to create true lines of dogs Typical examples of these very small dogs are Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrie, Maltese, Toy Poodle, and Pomeranian. Of course, there are many other breeds not mentioned here. 

Before You Adopt a Toy Breed, Consider:

  • You may need to feed this animal 4-6 times daily as a puppy. 
  • Soft or very small puppy foods are often needed as these puppies may not be able to eat large kibble.
  • They need extra warmth
  • Puppies of this size do not tolerate fleas.
  • They are too small to have any blood to give away to blood sucking parasites and cannot tolerate being anemic.
  • They need to be adequately dewormed and checked over for any signs of infectious disease. Diarrhea is common for puppies but a very tiny puppy cannot withstand the dehydration that accompanies diarrhea.
  • A genetic factor of in toy breed lines is liver shunts. Be prepared that your puppy may have one and require expensive medical care

Puppies should be at least 8 weeks old for adoption. Ten weeks is even better when it comes to micro-dogs like these.

Preventing Problems

So you already have a toy breed puppy. Remember how sensitive to problems these puppies are so if your puppy is coughing, has diarrhea, is vomiting, has appetite loss (especially appetite loss!) or seems listless waste no time in seeing the vet.

Be sure your puppy is eating and well. If possible, look in your puppy’s mouth and see if there are any teeth. In particular, look for the molars and premolars along the sides of the mouth. These are teeth needed for chewing and they may come in late. This will not stop your puppy from lapping up soft food. Be sure the food you are using is soft enough and that your puppy will reliably eat it.

Nutrical: A Handy Supplement

This product is frequently provided by both veterinarians and breeders for use in toy breed puppies. It consists basically of a malt-flavored paste with sugar and vitamins. Some puppies will readily lap it off fingers and others will only take it if it is smeared on the roof of the mouth. If a puppy seems listless, the first thing to do is attempt feeding. If the puppy will not eat, a finger tip of Nutrical may make all the difference.

What to Do if you Think your Puppy Is Hypoglycemic

Potentially, hypoglycemia is an emergency. The puppy will be listless maybe even uncoordinated. If the puppy is conscious, start by offering delicious food that he or she will want to eat. This may be all you have to do to avert catastrophe if the puppy will accept the meal. If you have Nutrical® as described above, this would be a great time to use it. In an extreme case, the puppy will become cold, will lose consciousness and begin to have seizures. For first aid, a small amount of Karo syrup can be rubbed on the gums. (It will absorb through the gums; actual swallowing is not necessary). Beyond this and especially if the puppy does not fully regain its normal playful attitude, the puppy should be rushed to an animal hospital for treatment.

In the hospital, the puppy will be warmed and a blood sugar level checked. If intravenous access is possible, dextrose will be infused directly into the blood stream. Response is generally rapid once sugar is supplied in this way and a sugar drip or regular sugar injections will be continued. But the puppy has to reliably eat before he can go home. Anticipate the need for 24 hour care and expect a few days of care.

Complicating Factors

Bacterial infection
Bacteria can be tremendous consumers of glucose (blood sugar). For this reason, hypoglycemic puppies frequently are given antibiotics.

Portosystemic (Liver) shunt
This is a problem for the Yorkshire terrier in particular. In this congenital malformation of the liver circulation, blood travels from the GI tract to the general circulation by-passing the liver. The liver does not develop properly and has abnormal function. One of the liver’s functions is to maintain the body’s blood sugar level. An abnormal liver leads to low blood sugar. This condition can frequently be cured with surgery. A liver function blood test is an easy way to rule this condition out as a complicating factor.

Parasitism/Diarrhea/Stress
Stress from any cause increases the body’s demand for sugar. This is why it is especially important to insure the general health of the toy breed puppy. When there are stressors, maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is all the more difficult.

Sometimes there is more to hypoglycemia than just low blood sugar. While being extra small and extra young is enough to drop blood sugar, sometimes there is more to the story.

When your puppy comes home after a hypoglycemic episode, it is important to watch food intake and be aware of any changes in energy level. As the puppy gets bigger, risk factors diminish. Teeth get stronger, body fat stores develop, and the immune system matures. Eventually, hypoglycemia risks become minimal and the puppy can continue life as any other puppy, playing, chewing things up, and learning the behavior control necessary to be a good house pet.

About the author: Hilary Granson

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