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WHAT IS HYPOGLYCEMIA?
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a common problem with all toy breed puppies. Veterinarians unfamiliar with toys often mis-diagnose the condition as viral hepatitis or encephalitis. As a toy breeder or pet owner, it is important to recognize the symptoms and know how to treat it. Hypoglycemia is easily treatable in the early stages, but fatal if allowed to progress. Many puppies are lost needlessly to hypoglycemia because of ignorance on the part of their owner or veterinarian.
The first sign of hypoglycemia is the puppy slowing down and then acting listless. The puppy will then begin to tremble or shiver. This is a reaction caused as the brain is starved of glucose. The trembling is followed by a blank stare and the puppy lying on its side. It may also experience convulsions. After a time, the puppy will become comatose. Its body will go limp, lifeless, and the tongue and gums will turn a grayish-blue colour. The body temperature will be subnormal. The puppy may even appear to be dead.
If caught in the early stages, treatment is simple. Rub Nutri-Cal (Caro syrup will do if you don't have Nutri-Cal) on the puppy's gums, under the tongue, and on the roof of the mouth. Caution: do NOT use honey. Get a heating pad or heating blanket and slowly warm the puppy back to normal body temperature. If the puppy responds, all is well. Feed a quality canned food right away; you may want to mix it with egg yolk. Monitor the puppy to ensure the condition does not recur. Be sure to eliminate the stress that caused the episode, if possible.
If caught in the advanced stages, treatment is more complicated. Always assume that the puppy is alive. Rub the Nutri-Cal or Caro in the mouth, and insert a small amount in the rectum. Slowly warm the puppy to normal (101-102 degrees F), and keep it continuously warm with light heat. If it still does not respond, carefully eyedropper dextrose solution or Caro water into the mouth, a little at a time. Call your vet and inform him that you have a hypoglycemic puppy. He will prepare a warmed dextrose solution to inject subcutaneously and may put your puppy on an IV drip. Request a fecal exam. Your puppy may have intestinal parasites such as worms, coccidia, or giardia that need to be eliminated immediately. A bacterial or viral infection may also be present, and antibiotic treatment necessary.
If your puppy has been given glucose injections, it is probably a good idea to treat him with antibiotics so that infection does not occur. Your vet will likely recommend a prescription canned food such as a/d togive as your puppy recovers. you can finger feed the a/d 'as is' from the can and add Pedialyte with a dropper. Give B vitamins to stimulate appetite. As your puppy improves he will begin to eat on his own and then you can gradually phase back in his regular food.
It is important to understand that just because a puppy has an episode of hypoglycemia, it does not mean the puppy is truly hypoglycemic. True hypoglycemia is a chronic condition caused by an overproduction of inulin by the pancreas. Even though the pancreas may normally function properly, toy puppies can still have an isolated hypoglycemic episode in reaction to stress. Hypoglycemic incidents are almost always preceded by a stress of some kind. Some examples of common stresses include: weaning, teething, vaccinations, a change in environment, shipping, over-handling, cold temperatures, intestinal parasites, infections, anorexia, etc. Many puppies simply play too hard and stress their system, or forget to eat. I have heard of young males experiencing hypoglycemia when a female in heat is around. They become so worked up over the female that they do not eat and their blood sugar drops.
Tiny dogs often do not have the fat reserves to supply adequate glucose in times of stress, or when they do not eat regularly. Hypoglycemia most often occurs when the puppy has not eaten recently and still show signs of hypoglycemia if his system is stressed and the food has not been digested and assimilated. It is important to 'free feed' toy puppies a high quality food. Toy puppies simply have too high of an energy level to be restricted to scheduled feedings. Most do fine if switched to scheduled feedings when they reach adulthood, but they must have access to food and water at all times when they are puppies. If you like to give your puppy canned food, you can schedule the feeding of the canned, but allow access to kibble at all times.
A summary of important reminders:
1) Always keep Nutri-Cal or Caro corn syrup on hand. this is the quickest way to revive a hypoglycemic puppy.
2) If you ever see your puppy becoming llistless, or laying on his side and acting unresponsive, IMMEDIATELY rub the Nutir-Cal or Caro on his gums, under the tongue, and on the roof of the mouth. Slowly warm him to normal body temperature with a heating pad. Feed him as soon as he responds. Call your vet if the puppy does not quickly respond.
3) Keep the puupy from chilling, free of parasites, and minimize stress.
4)See that your puppy eats often and maintains a proper body weight.
5) Do not over-handle your puppy. Be sure to allow him rest time and 'alone time'. Like all babies, puppies need to have a regular schedule of rest, meals, play, and potty.