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2016 Specialty



Hypoglycemia in Puppies / Dogs

What is hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is the technical term for low blood sugar. Tissue, such as muscle, receives glucose from the blood to use as energy. Animals that become hypoglycemic have used up all the glucose in their blood become weak, comatose, and may even die. Hypoglycemia is not a disease, but simply the body’s response to a lack of glucose.

Which puppies are most likely to suffer from hypoglycemia?
Any puppy will become hypoglycemic if it quickly burns up more energy that it consumes. The puppies that are most at risk are the miniature and toy breeds such as Chihuahua, Yorkshire terriers, Maltese, and toy poodles.

  • Symptoms and Types—At first, your puppy will become very weak and lethargic. Your puppy may stagger or lie down and not want to move. Unless action is taken to correct the puppy’s low blood sugar, symptoms will become progressively worse. Your puppy will have a vacant, staring expression and will become unresponsive to stimuli such as calling its name or loud sounds. Your puppy will feel cool to the touch as its body temperature begins to drop. Without immediate action, the puppy will become comatose and die.
  • Causes —These breeds have small bodies have very small energy stores and cannot possibly eat enough in one meal to keep active all day long. Puppies can also become hypoglycemic from stress in their lives. When their environment is disrupted by moving, vacationing, travel, parties, marriage, or other stressors, a puppy stands a good chance of becoming hypoglycemic from the stress involved in such situations.
  • Diagnosis—Hypoglycemia is easy to diagnose from the results of routine blood work, which will identify low levels of glucose in the dog’s bloodstream. The difficult part of the diagnosis is determining why the dog is hypoglycemic. Most veterinarians will recommend taking a urine sample for a urinalysis and drawing blood samples for a complete blood count and a serum biochemistry profile.
  • Treatment—Fortunately, hypoglycemia can be prevented by feeding your puppy frequent small meals and by not allowing the puppy to over-exercise. It is also a good idea to treat your new puppy as you would an infant. When you put your puppy to bed, it is a good idea to keep it confined to a small space, such as a crate. Small breed puppies need never experience hypoglycemia if their owners are attentive and provide for the small puppy’s special needs.
  • Prevention—Puppies, like children, are very active and burn up a lot of energy. Because a puppy is small, it cannot possibly eat enough in one meal to fuel its body for an entire day. Puppies should be fed three to five small meals a day, preferably spread out evenly through the day. This helps maintain their blood sugar level at a fairly consistent level. In addition to the regular small meals, miniature and toy breed puppies should receive a small snack after a walk or play session. Do not encourage your puppy to over do it. Rest is equally important as exercise and play.

    NOTE: Prolonged, untreated hypoglycemia can cause blindness ranging from temporary/transient to permanent. This is a result of the death of cells in the occipital part of the cerebral cortex of the brain .

Other health problems can occur in your Maltese. If you notice anything unusual with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This webpage is for general information only and is not intended to be a medical guide.

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