Hypoglycemia in small breeds of dog.

Hypoglycemia is a common problem in small breed puppies (and kittens) and it refers to the condition of the body when it is low in blood sugar.  All young animals are unable to store energy in the same way that adults can, so while adults are able to maintain blood glucose levels in times of stress or during fasting – the bodies of young animals cannot yet do this, even when they are healthy.

Puppies of small breeds such as Chihuahuas or Pomeranians are at most risk of hypoglycemia because they can be so small, that they have little in the way of fat stores.  Because fat equals fuel for a tiny puppy, if there is not enough – their blood sugar levels can fall.  Adults have larger fat stores which can produce the required energy when blood sugar is low.  The liver also plays a part too, since while adults have fully functioning livers, a puppy has an immature organ which cannot produce enough sugar in times of need – which leads to hypoglycemia.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Symptoms are not always easy to spot, especially in young puppies but it is important to be aware of possible signs of low blood sugar, especially if you own a small breed puppy.  Where blood sugar become low, the puppies heart rate and breathing will slow down and this will usually be followed by other symptoms;

  • Disorientation
  • Appearing very sleepy
  • Walking in a ‘drunk’ fashion
  • Shaking, trembling or shivering.
  • Head tilting.
  • Seizure
  • Complete unconsciousness.

Without immediate veterinary attention it is possible the puppy could die.  However, if you catch symptoms early there are things you can do at home to alleviate the effects.  It is, however, very important take your puppy to the vet at the earliest opportunity.

When blood sugar levels drop it is much more difficult for puppies to regulate their temperature, so wrap him in a warm blanket.

Offer the puppy some food – this is very important.  Offer a small amount of something really tasty and smelly, such as canned dog food.  If your dog appears ‘drunk’ and wobbly you can try a teaspoonful of honey.

If your pup appears to be having a seizure or seems unconscious, you can rub a little honey on the inside of the gums – in this case it is imperative the pup is taken immediately to the vet.

Preventing hypoglycemia.

Always make sure the puppy is fed several meals across the day.  Tiny toy dogs cannot eat large quantities in one sitting; but more importantly a number of small meals throughout the day will help to keep blood sugar at a stable level.  For small puppies, snacking is good; so good quality treats are fine and an ideal opportunity for training and games.

The only thing to watch out for is that the puppy doesn’t get too fat in the process!