Hypoglycemia is defined as a low blood sugar concentration. As sugar (in the form of glucose) is the primary energy source in the body, low blood sugar levels will ultimately affect organ and brain function. It is especially dangerous in tiny breed puppies as they do not have body mass storage. They need to eat in order to maintain healthy glucose levels. Sometimes puppies may not eat due to being in a new environment, due to stress, due to not liking a particular type of food, or due to an illness. Whatever the cause or the failure to eat, it can be dangerous as it may lead to hypoglycemia and if left untreated can be life threatening.
Symptoms usually start with the first couple of items listed below and can progress to the ones on the bottom of the list:
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy (low energy)
- Pale Discoloration of gums
- Slow response time
- Unusual behaviour
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Lack of coordination
- Partial paralysis of hindquarters
- Exercise intolerance
- Involuntary twitching
The good news is that there are many ways to help puppies prevent hypoglycemia or treat it during an episode.
If you notice your puppy is exhibiting some of the above symptoms, immediately do the following:
- Wrap puppy in a blanket to get him warm
- Offer puppy something to eat
- Make the food offering appealing such as canned food with a strong yummy smell
- If he will not eat on his own then administer a sugar supplement by placing a small amount of dark Kayro syrup on your finger and rubbing it in the roof of your puppy's mouth and on his gums. You can also use Nutrical or Doc Roy's Forti Cal which not only provide the gluclose but also contain vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids. Nutrical can be purchased at most pet supply stores and Doc Roy's Forti Cal can be purchased very reasonably at RevivalAmimalHealth.com.
- Once your puppy starts to improve, offer food again. If the puppy still will not eat, try mixing some canned food with water and make it soupy enough to give him through a syringe or dropper.
- If the puppy does show signs or seizures or looses consciousness, take him to your nearest emergency vet immediately.
Prevention is the key to combating hypoglycemia in small breed puppies. Steps that can be taken to prevent an episode may include:
- Adding a supplement such as Doc Roy's Forti Cal to the puppy's water for daily sipping
- Scheduling several small meals daily rather than limiting to just one or 2 large meals
- Leaving dry kibble out all day so the puppy can graze
- Offer a puzzle toy snack ball for the puppy to play with and receive snacks from during the day