Hypoglycemia In Small Breed Puppies
What is Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia or “low blood sugar” refers to a low level of glucose in the bloodstream. If the sugar in the bloodstream becomes too low, the body starts to show symptoms of not having enough energy to operate. The brain especially is in need of a constant supply of glucose to function.
Why are puppies at risk for low blood sugar?
Puppies, especially those under 3 months of age, have not fully developed their ability to regulate their blood glucose (sugar) levels. Toy and miniature breeds are especially susceptible to this problem, including but not limited to:
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Toy Poodles
Predisposing factors for hypoglycemia can include:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Low body temperature
- Intestinal parasites
- Other ailments.
Clinical signs of Hypoglycemia in puppies
The signs of low blood sugar can be vague. It’s important to watch out for them especially if your puppy is a tiny breed that’s most susceptible.
Be alert for any one or a combination of the following atypical behaviors and symptoms:
- Becoming very sleepy
- A wobbly “drunk” gait
- “Glassy” and unfocused eyes
- Head tilted to one side
How to Prevent Low Blood Sugar in Puppies
Providing proper nutrition on a routine schedule is crucial to preventing low blood sugar in puppies. Small breed puppies should be fed 3 to 4 times a day. Ensure that you are feeding a commercial puppy diet that is formulated for growth.
As other ailments can predispose to Hypoglycemia, any signs of illness must be attended to. If your puppy is presenting with any of the following symptoms, waste no time in seeing the vet.
- Appetite loss
Lastly, make sure to keep your puppy nice and warm at home.
Treatment for Hypoglycemia in Puppies
If your puppy is conscious but showing signs of hypoglycemia (see above), start by offering tasty food that he or she will want to eat. If your puppy will not eat, a fingertip of Nutrical may make all the difference. This product is frequently provided by veterinarians and breeders for use in toy breed puppies. It consists of a malt flavored paste with sugar and vitamins. Some puppies will readily lap it off your fingers and others will only take it if it’s smeared on the roof of their mouth. In most cases, the puppy will respond very quickly to treatment, within 5-10 minutes.
If your puppy is listless, comatose, or seizing, a small amount of Karo syrup can be rubbed on the gums for first aid. It will absorb through the gums so swallowing it is not necessary. Beyond this, the puppy should immediately be taken to an animal hospital for treatment.
With any signs of hypoglycemia, make sure your pup is warm by wrapping them in a blanket. When the blood sugar drops, puppies can no longer regulate their body temperature. It’s important to keep the dog warm until it’s glucose level rises.
When to Contact a Vet
A hypoglycemic puppy is almost always an emergency situation. If caught relatively early, the prognosis for a hypoglycemic animal is good. If presented after seizing for a prolonged period or comatose, the prognosis worsens.
- Initial IV dextrose boluses
- Warming to a normal body temperature
- IV fluids with a constant rate of infusion of dextrose
- other supportive treatments
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