What is Hypoglycemia?
Commonly called "low blood sugar," hypoglycemia can be a life-threatening emergency in dogs, especially in puppies of toy breeds. It also affects hard working hunting dogs and pregnant dogs.
How does my dog get Hypoglycemia?
Dogs store energy reserves in the form of glycogen, but very young or small dogs are often unable to store enough energy as glycogen. When they don’t eat often enough, or if they use a lot of energy from playing or being stressed, the body depletes its stores of glycogen and has to start breaking down body fat for energy. But because small puppies or especially lean dogs don’t have much body fat, that supply doesn’t last long, and the body runs out of sufficient energy. The brain depends on this energy, and is one of the first systems to fail.
How do I know if my dog has Hypoglycemia?
Suspect hypoglycemia if your dog, especially if a small puppy, or if a lean dog that is working hard without eating, is abnormally sleepy, dull, weak, and uncoordinated. He may not even eat when offered food, so don't think that because he's not hungry he's not hypoglycemic. In severe cases, collapse and seizures may occur. A blood glucose test can identify a low blood sugar although the cause may not be immediately evident.
What can I do about Hypoglycemia?
This is an emergency. Without an energy source, the condition can progress to the point the puppy has seizures, loses consciousness and dies. Call your veterinarian. You may need to go there for intravenous glucose. Keep him warm. You may try to feed him a food high in simple sugars, such as corn syrup. If he can’t eat, rub it on his gums but don’t try to force it down his throat. He should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. There are a variety underlying causes of hypoglycemia that can only be determined by testing done by your veterinarian.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Hypoglycemia?
Feed your young toy breed puppy often, at least every four hours during the daytime. Keep him warm and quiet if he must go longer between meals. Meals should be fairly high in protein, fat and complex carbohydrates. Avoid foods with simple sugars, such as sweets and semi-moist foods, unless he already has signs of hypoglycemia. The same is true for your lean working dog: feed him small meals often and avoid simple sugars.
Are there certain breeds that get Hypoglycemia more often?
Toy breed dogs, especially puppies, are most susceptible. Lean hunting dogs that are being worked hard are also susceptible.