Hypoglycemia

Pictured is a Yorkshire Terrier; as with all ultra small dogs, they are susceptible to hypoglycemia until over 2 lbs. in weight.


It can happen quite quickly. Your small puppy seems off, kind of sleepy, a bit “stumbly”. Is he having a bad day? Maybe, but especially if he is under two pounds, it could be hypoglycemia.

This can occur in stressed or very active dogs, and occurs especially in small puppies. Symptoms are a sudden loss of coordination, sleepiness, lack of appetite and general weakness. Left untreated, it can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness and death.

Hypoglycemia is caused by a sudden drop in glucose or sugar in the dog's system. Some breeds, such as Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Affenpinschers, Miniature Pinchers, Maltese and Papillons can be so small that they have difficulty in storing sufficient glucose.

Babies are especially susceptible as they have very little fat deposits, and the condition may also be connected to an immaturity in liver cells.

The magic number concerning hypoglygemia and puppies is two pounds. Until your fully weaned puppy is over two pounds, he should be fed at least every 4 hours and be given a quarter teaspoon of high calorie paste twice a day.

Feed him one quarter of his daily kibble ration at each meal with a teaspoon of canned food well mixed in and warm water to barely cover. Remove the food after :30 but have available dry kibble and plenty of water at all times.

If you suspect hypoglycemia, call your vet. If you can’t reach your vet right away, rub a small amount of Karo syrup on your puppy’s gums to revive him.

If your puppy has had a hypoglycemic episode, be sure to get him checked at your vet for a condition called liver shunt, as the symptoms can be similar.

But What Is Liver Shunt?

In many areas of life, a shunt can be a good thing. With railroad tracks for example, a shunt can bypass a congested train yard to deliver the passengers to the station swiftly. But when a shunt bypasses a vital body function, it's trouble. The liver’s function is to filter and remove toxins from the blood.

In a liver shunt, the blood bypasses the liver and is diverted to another vessel, allowing toxins to build up throughout the body.

Puppies with liver shunts tend to be small for their age (yet another reason why not to buy a so-called “tea-cup’ sized dog).

Some other signs of shunts are excessive drinking and frequent urination. Shortly after eating the dog may appear depressed, sleepy or even have a seizure. These signs are caused by ammonia, which is a by-product of digestion, reaching the brain instead of being cleared out by the liver.

Prognosis for liver shunts depends on it's location, severity and when it's found. Congenital shunts are good candidates for surgery if diagnosed early. Otherwise they must be dealt with medically.

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