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Hypoglycemia of Toy Breed Dogs

Hypoglycemia is a common problem in small breed dogs.

Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. It can occur in a few different situations, including:

  • Diabetes mellitus when the dog gets too much insulin.
  • Overexertion (too much exercise without enough food—most common in hunting or other working dogs)
  • Insulinoma
  • Xylitol toxicity
  • Hypoglycemia of small breed dogs.

In the case of small breed dogs, hypoglycemia is common and is directly related to the dog's tininess.

What Causes Toy Dog Hypoglycemia?

Dogs that are toy sized as adults are extremely tiny as puppies. Because of that, they have a hard time maintaining a normal body temperature. They also don't have teeth until later in life than other breeds, so it's difficult for them to take in enough nutrition. Those two factors can lead to hypoglycemia, a serious low blood sugar level.

Additionally, toy breed puppies don't have enough stamina to easily withstand issues like intestinal parasites, fleas, or diarrhea, so if they have any of those issues, hypoglycemia is more likely to occur than in bigger breeds.

Along the same lines, parvovirus, distemper, and kennel cough can be more serious in toy breed puppies because they can cause inappetence which quickly becomes hypoglycemia.

Signs of Hypoglycemia in Toy Breed Dogs

The signs of hypoglycemia of toy breed dogs generally happen in puppies less than five or six months of age and can include:

  • Wobbliness
  • Tremors
  • Extreme listlessness or even stupor
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures

What to Do If You Think Your Puppy Is Hypoglycemic

If your puppy is showing any of the signs above, it is an emergency, and you should make your way to a veterinarian as fast as possible. As you do so, it's a good idea to try and get some food into the puppy if she's conscious. Use a favorite food or treat or a supplement like NutriCal, which is high in sugar.

If the puppy won't take the food or is unconscious, try putting honey or Karo syrup on the puppy's gums where it can be absorbed and hopefully help bring up the blood sugar level.

Keep the puppy warm as you make your way to the veterinary hospital, where the staff will check a blood sugar level and work on getting the pup some intravenous glucose.

How to Avoid Hypoglycemia in Your Toy Breed Puppy

It may not be possible to avoid hypoglycemia in your puppy, and you should be prepared by knowing the signs and having NutriCal or Karo syrup on hand. However, there are some things you should do if you have a toy breed dog. They can easily mean the difference between life and death.

  • Be ever watchful for signs of hypoglycemia.
  • Be ready to react by keeping NutriCal or Karo syrup on hand and accessible at all times, even if you are on the go with your puppy.
  • Feed softened food until your puppy's molars and premolars (the big teeth in the back) come in.
  • Always provide a nice warm spot for your puppy and be mindful of her getting too cold.
  • Be sure your puppy eats at least four to six small meals a day to help keep her blood sugar level up.

The Special Case of Liver Shunts in Dogs

A liver shunt happens when there is a congenital malformation of the liver circulation.

Blood normally travels from the intestines through the liver, where it's cleaned and then circulated to the rest of the body. In the case of a liver shunt, the liver is by-passed, so toxins build up in the blood stream. Hypoglycemia is a hallmark of this condition, and it's common in Yorkshire terriers as well as some non-toy breeds. So, if you have a Yorkie, your veterinarian may run some additional tests after an episode of hypoglycemia to rule out a liver shunt (also called a portosystemic shunt). Learn more: "Liver Shunts in Dogs."

You May Also Like These Articles:

Liver Shunts in Dogs

Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs

Dog Diarrhea

Vomiting in Dogs

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