Hypoglycemia - Sugar Shock
There is nothing more exciting and beautiful than the bond that you and your new puppy will build throughout your life together. We feel it is part of our responsibility to make sure that we share a few things with you so that the life you build with your puppy is a long and happy one! With this being said, one concern that comes with owning a small breed dog is hypoglycemia. Your health guarantee does NOT cover hypoglycemia so it is imperative you read the following information closely.
What is Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar (sometimes called "sugar shock"), is a condition when the blood sugar level drops to an extremely low level due to lack of food or by using up all stored energy without it being replenished. Normally, hormones stimulate the breakdown of stored glycogen to supply the brain and body with energy, but in small breeds there is a possibility of this process not occurring fast enough, which is when hypoglycemia occurs. Hypoglycemia can be corrected but if left untreated it can be fatal to your puppy.
Causes of Hypoglycemia
A few causes of hypoglycemia are stress (like moving to a new home), cold, overexertion without energy replenishment, intestinal parasites, malnutrition and too much time between meals. Puppies less than 3 months old are more susceptible to hypoglycemia because their bodies have not fully developed the ability to regulate blood glucose concentration and have a higher requirement for glucose. Teacup and tiny Toy breeds are prone to hypoglycemia because they have such tiny digestive systems. They can only store a small amount of food (energy) in their stomach at one time. Their liver and pancreas, which are necessary for digestion and sugar balance, are also small and usually underdeveloped as well. But as they grow, so do their major organs, making them more able to utilize and to process the food that they eat so it can sustain them for longer periods of time.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can occur without warning in a healthy puppy and can be a very scary thing! So it is best to know what to look for. Your puppy may exhibit one or more of these signs:
vomiting on an empty stomach (clear liquid), acting listless, weak, loss of appetite, unusually tired, walking unsteadily, muscle twitching, shakiness, seizures, falling over, stiffening up, laying on their side paddling their feet or comatose.
Treatment of Hypoglycemia
If your puppy becomes hypoglycemic, it is very important that you stay calm and react IMMEDIATELY. If the puppy is not given some quick form of nutrition containing sugar (i.e. Nutri-Cal, honey, sugar, glucose, Kayro syrup or a sugar containing product) to raise their blood sugar immediately, coma and/or possibly death could result. Time is of the essence, so grab whatever sugar product is closest to you. If you see that your puppy has not eaten in a while and vomits without acting sick, give them Nutri-Cal or Kayro syrup immediately; more than likely they are showing early signs of sugar shock. If the puppy is unable to swallow do not force liquids down their throat as it can get into the lungs and cause asphyxiation. If the puppy is too weak to swallow and take the honey or Nutri-Cal on its own, put the sugar product on your finger and rub it on the roof of its mouth. If necessary, pry their mouth open. It may be necessary to give several doses.
Note: We keep a product called Pet Nutri-Drops on hand. It allows nutrition to bypass digestion and be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, which is very handy if a puppy is too unresponsive to swallow on their own.
After being given something sweet, your puppy should show some type of improvement and be more alert and responsive within 10-15 minutes. After your puppy feels a little better, remember to give them a protein filled meal (any good meat-based dog food or meat baby food will do.) to level out their blood sugar.
IMPORTANT: If your puppy does not respond with any improvement within 10-15 minutes, or appears comatose or unresponsive, take them to the closest veterinarian immediately. In severe cases, if their blood sugar has dropped too far, it is sometimes necessary for them to receive glucose (dextrose) given by shot or IV. Make sure that you tell your vet that you suspect that your puppy is in hypoglycemic shock and specifically ask for a shot of Dextrose before he does anything else. Unfortunately many veterinarians are not familiar with treating tiny puppies and/or have never seen a case of hypoglycemia and many puppies have died needlessly while the vet wastes precious time performing routine tests and looking for other things.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO DO AS IT COULD MEAN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE OR DEATH FOR YOUR PUPPY.
REMEMBER: Every minute counts! First step: sugar product. If your puppy is comatose or unresponsive do not give liquids that he can choke on or won't be able to swallow. Instead, rub a coating of honey or Nutri-Cal around in his tongue and mouth. If your puppy is still unresponsive after 10-15 minutes take them to the vet. It is crucial that you tell your vet you believe they are experiencing sugar shock so as to not waste time.
Hypoglycemia After Care
How to care for your puppy after a hypoglycemic incident is important. Every puppy responds differently after a sugar low. The sooner they are treated after the onset of symptoms the faster they will bounce back. Many pups are back to their old selves and running around and playing in a few minutes or a few hours after an attack. But if your puppy has had a very severe case or was comatose before treatment, it could take several hours and even as much as several days for your puppy to be back to normal. Remember low blood sugar causes their tiny bodies to totally shut down, so many pups act very depressed or groggy and some will not eat on their own after a severe attack. To help your puppy recuperate:
1. It is very important to make sure that they get food in their stomach to prevent them from going into sugar shock again. If they are not eating on their own, you must hand feed them. We use a few teaspoons of Gerber strained beef, chicken or turkey all meat baby food, a few drops of honey and about a two inch strip of Nutri-Cal in a small cup; microwave for 10 seconds or so until the Nutri-Cal melts, stir and give 3 -6 cc's by mouth with a syringe or eye dropper. If your puppy is not eating on his own you need to repeat every 2 to 4 hours until he will take food himself. There is also a terrific new product out called Rebound Liquid Diet. It is a liquid diet that is 100% nutritionally complete and is great as an added supplement for hypoglycemic pups that are not eating well.
2. Keep your puppy warm. When a puppy has low blood sugar, their body temperature drops very low. It is important to gradually warm your puppy. Wrap them in a towel or put them on a low temperature heating pad until they are well enough to keep their own temperature up.
We recommend giving your new puppy a 1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon of live culture vanilla flavored yogurt once or twice a day for the first week or two. Not only does the yogurt taste good and give them extra nutrition, the good bacteria it contains can help prevent problems and sometimes even cure or prevent bacterial infections that can arise from the stress of going to a new home.
We hope that these tips will help you and your new fur baby have a long and healthy life together!