Hypoglycemia is a syndrome that
occurs primarily in toy breeds between 6 and 12 weeks of age. A hypoglycemic
attack is often precipitated by stress. The typical signs are listlessness,
depression, staggering gait, muscular weakness, and tremors-especially of the
face. Puppies with a severe drop in blood sugar develop seizures or become stuporous
and go into a coma. Death can follow. This particular sequence of symptoms is
not always seen. though. For example, some puppies exhibit only weakness or a
wobbly gait. Occasionally a puppy who seemed just fine is found in coma.
Episodes of hypoglycemia often occur without warning-for example, when a
puppy is stressed by shipping. Other common causes of acute hypoglycemia are
missing a meal, chilling, becoming exhausted from too much play, or having an
upset stomach. These events place an added strain on the energy reserves of the
Hypoglycemia can occur in adult hunting dogs
as a consequence of sustained exercise and depletion of liver glycogen. It is
important to feed these dogs before hunting and to increase the protein content
of their diets. Hypoglycemia in diabetic dogs is caused by insulin overdose. Unexplained
hypoglycemia that occurs in older dogs is likely to be caused by an
insulin-secreting tumor of the pancreas.
Prolonged or repeated hypoglycemic attacks in toy breed puppies can cause
brain damage. Puppies with frequent attacks should undergo veterinary testing
to rule out an underlying problem, such as liver shunt, infection, or an enzyme
or hormone deficiency.
Treatment: The treatment of an acute attack is aimed at restoring the blood
sugar. Begin immediately. If the puppy is awake and able to swallow, give corn
syrup or sugar water by syringe, or rub corn syrup, honey, or glucose paste on the gums. You should see improvement in 30 minutes. If not,
call your veterinarian.
If the pup is unconscious, do not give an oral solution because it will be
inhaled. Rub corn syrup, honey, or glucose paste on the gums and proceed at
once to your veterinarian. This puppy will require an intravenous dextrose
solution and may need to be treated for brain swelling.