Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, is common in toy breed dogs and puppies. Because small Toy Aussie puppies carry little body fat or reserves, if they become overly stressed, miss a meal, over exercise, etc….they may experience a dangerous drop in glucose (sugar) in their blood. This drop causes the puppy to become weak, lethargic, nauseous and generally unwell. Hypoglycemia is LIFE THREATENING if left untreated. You must intervene and get your puppy’s sugars up and stabilized. When a puppy experiences a hypoglycemic episode, his or her brain is literally starved for glucose (sugar) and the brain begins shutting down.
Hypoglycemia is not a disease and it’s not contagious, it’s a condition that can happen to any small dog, regardless of health or age. It’s most common in puppies up to 4 months old.
Please-make sure your puppy eats more than just a couple of times a day. Once they leave I cannot continue to make sure they’re eating right and getting enough sleep. Just remember, they are babies. Giving them sugar is a band aid it help to keep them going and will help with the low blood sugar but it also is a fake positive when and if you take your puppy to the vet. While giving your puppy sugar it will help for a couple days but without sufficient food and water intake the puppy is still being starved.
The puppy may exhibit some or all of the following:
Appearing weak, disoriented, acting “drunk”, not responsive when you call his or name. Vomiting. Can’t stand up or walk well. Trembling or being nervous, uneasy or agitated. Most will seem very lethargic and listless. Advanced hypoglycemia can include seizures, brain damage, loss of consciousness and if left untreated, coma and death.
Most hypoglycemia cases can be treated at home, however you must seek immediate veterinary care if the puppy loses consciousness, experiences a seizure, is non-responsive to at home treatment, or if you don’t know the cause of the episode. If you are aware that your puppy missed a meal or was over exercised, then providing at home care is acceptable as long as your responds immediately to care.
AT HOME TREATMENT
#1) DO NOT PANIC
These little dogs bounce back fast when treated properly, so keep calm, follow the steps below and please, call me if you need some reassurance. It can be scary to see your little puppy suffering from low blood sugar, but they recover very quickly in almost all cases, so take a deep breath!
It is imperative to keep Nutri-cal (or something similar) on hand at all times. This can be picked up at your local vet over the counter. It is a high calorie diet in a low volume form. It gives them the sugar and other great supplements they need quickly. This gel is absorbed through the gums quickly to get sugar into the bloodstream and glucose to the brain.
If you do not have Nutri-cal, you may use any color Karo Syrup (very small amount) or honey works well too and can be given in advance of a hypoglycemic episode if you know your puppy is under stress, not eating well, was over exercised, etc…Do not over-do it on treatment or you could upset the puppy’s stomach or cause loose stools. You don’t want the puppy’s sugar level to sky rocket. That can cause them to become diabetic and that is just as bad.
Keep your puppy warm and put a couple of pea sized drops of gel in his or her mouth (by force if you have to-unless he is having a seizure)…..every 20 minutes or so until the puppy “perks up” and starts to show interest in food. At this point, about anything they will willingly eat is fine. (Using common sense!) You should see a huge improvement within 30-60 minutes. Step 1 baby food in beef or chicken is easy to force feed if it comes to having to force feed them. I also recommend that you get some pumpkin baby food as well.
Good examples of things you can offer a puppy who is a picky eater is yogurt (something with live cultures such as Activia). If they don’t dive right in, stir some honey in to the yogurt…they can’t resist! Sandwich meat or cream of chicken noodle soup (if they like this, soak puppy food in it!). Fluids are also important. Lots of water. Sugar or honey water is a good thing to try.
If he won’t eat, give him some time and glucose…remember, he is nauseous from the hypoglycemia. It’s okay if he/she vomits the food up at first, but he should be able to keep it down within the first few hours. Monitor the puppy closely, continue to keep him warm and watch to see how he does. If there is little or no improvement, take him to your vet as soon as possible. If he relapses for an unknown reason, it’s to the vet.
If the at home care is working you’ll see your puppy “perk up”, eat the soft food well and begin acting normal again within a 1-2 hours. Do not let him or her run around or exercise for a day or two. Keep him or her warm, calm, quiet, well fed and monitored very closely for a relapse. Keep the puppy with you when you sleep and check him or her every two hours or so (in a small laundry basket in bed with you works well).
AT THE VET
If your puppy needs to be taken to the vet because he is unconscious, has experienced a seizure or is not improving, here is what to expect.
The vet techs will whisk the puppy to the back while you fill out paperwork (be prepared for an emergency exam fee). The vet will want to start to check the glucose levels and then immediately start a GLUCOSE DRIP (which is an IV into the puppy) which delivers glucose directly into the bloodstream. This is the quickest and best way to get the puppy stable and prevent seizures, brain damage, coma and death.
After getting the puppy stable, they’ll want to run hundreds of dollars in tests. We recommend starting with one or two and working your way slowly to find out what caused the episode (if you don’t know already).
Remember: you are the boss. You are the paying customer. You have the final say in what they do and don’t do. In addition to the glucose test and glucose drip, we recommend starting with a FECAL CHECK to look for parasites that may have caused the puppy to lose his appetite which resulted in the episode. If parasites are found (worms, cocci or giardia), then treatment should begin when the vet says it’s safe. If nothing is found (or the puppy is exhibiting other symptoms) then a PARVO test is next on the list. Parvo is almost always fatal, even in large breed puppies/adults. It can be kinder to euthanize a Parvo toy breed puppy than to drag out it’s suffering. Keep your puppy UTD on vaccines and off public grasses/sidewalks until he is 4+mths old and fully vaccinated. Remember! Just because a puppy is vaccinated does not mean they are 100% safe! Precautions should still be taken to avoid putting your puppy in contact with Parvo.
We are very serious about keeping our vaccines up to date and to keep our place very clean but your vet will need to rule it out. And we’re going to talk about parvo for a minute.
A puppy can contract parvo from someone who’s been in contact with parvo, even unknowingly. Walk behind someone at Walmart that has a parvo puppy at home and you can carry it home on your shoes. Yes it’s that easy. Vet clinics are a hot spot for parvo. Where do people take their sick dogs? To the vet! Do not touch anything. Do not ever put your puppy down at the vet clinic. Avoid anyone other than the vet and select staff handling your puppy. Careless vet techs that have handled parvo puppies earlier in the day can give your puppy parvo. Be educated and aware. Pet stores are also a horrible place to take your puppy. If you must go, again…do not put your puppy down and do not let people handle your puppy until it’s fully vaccinated. (2 weeks after 12 wk shot) A polite way to ask people not to touch your puppy is to just tell them that your puppy is not fully vaccinated yet and you are doing your best to make sure he doesn’t get sick. Gas stations. This is where we stop to take a break ourselves. So does everyone else with a dog. As convenient as it is-never let your puppy down in a high traffic area like this. Instead-stop in the back of a restaurant parking lot if you must. Or on the side of the road. Think of the least likely spot everyone else has taken their dogs potty. Picking up your puppy from the airport. 9 out of 10 people that pick up their puppy from the airport take them out of the crate and immediately put them on the ground and let them walk around and potty. When these people (100’s a week) take their puppies out of the crate from wherever they came from-they have no idea if the puppy is healthy or not. It can appear healthy and be carrying (and spreading) parvo or other plenty of other things for that matter. Your puppy can hold it for a few more minutes. An accident in the car or even on you is better than parvo! If you have never experienced parvo or do not know much about it, I highly recommend that you do a google search about how serious and deadly it is. How easy it is to catch and pass around.
Back to hypoglycemia, if the parvo and fecal check come back negative, then the vet will want to run a blood panel. Some toy breed dogs can have liver or kidney problems that can result in hypoglycemic episodes. We’ve never had a test come back positive (or had any puppy we’ve placed who has been treated come back positive) but it’s the next step in testing to be sure.
There are other tests, but these are the most common ones to expect.
The bottom line is that although low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is common and easily treated in toy breeds (if caught early), your vet will most likely want to run (and have you pay for) lots and lots of tests. Low blood sugar can happen to a healthy puppy who missed a meal, is stressed, over exercised, etc…..so don’t let your vet push you around. Do your research, be informed and get a second opinion if you’re not sure.
As always, if you have any doubts or want an opinion from someone who’s experienced-call me! Do not ever hesitate when you are worried about your baby to call me. I want to be your first call when you’re worried and your last call after everything has settled back down to normal.
My cell phone is 435-590-1301. You can call or text. If it’s important and I miss you, please call again!
We are available 24/7 for questions, concerns and emergencies related to hypoglycemia, parvo or just the general wellness of your new family member. But not just when they are puppies, throughout their lives any questions or concerns I would be happy to help at any time.