Hypoglycemia - Sled Dog Society of Wales

HYPOGLYCEMIA

What is hypoglycemia:

Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar and is a condition in which there is a drastic, sudden drop in the level of blood sugar in your toy puppy. It is a puppy problem most often seen in toy breeds, such as Pomeranians. Hypoglycemia is usually brought on by stress or shock in some form. It usually occurs in puppies from 5 weeks to 6 months of age but CAN occur in mature toy breeds when they are subject to STRESS even playing too long or too hard with other dogs, kids, cats, pets, etc. It is most likely caused by the uneven spurts in growth of the internal organs of the puppy, especially the pancreas. The brain will receive incorrect signals from the pancreas and not send out a correct signal for the release of a proper amount of sugar in the bloodstream. This can happen especially during times of stress that can happen with rough play, long play or hard play. They may not eat or drink enough fluids, nor get enough calories.

A hypoglycemic puppy will appear lethargic, lose its balance, or fall over when sat up. He/she may appear limp and lifeless with the gums and tongue usually grayish blue in color. Often the eyes are unfocused and barely open. Temperature will be below normal and the puppy could be shivering and/or trembling in the early stages. As condition worsens, a hypoglycemic puppy either goes into a coma or convulsions. Hypoglycemia is a metabolic disorder and death will result, unless properly DIAGNOSED AND CARED FOR IMMEDIATELY.

As was mentioned earlier, Hypoglycemia is usually first triggered by a puppy not eating enough, not getting enough calories, not being offered palatable or high calorie food, playing too long, too hard or too rough without proper rest. Any significant stress, such as a routine trip to the veterinarian, change in homes, being left alone, being around strangers, or being handled for too long can potentially cause the blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels. Because of their tiny size, toy puppies cannot eat a lot at one time, and literally run out of fuel quickly. Toy puppies have a fast metabolism.  Puppies should be fed a high quality high calorie diet several times a day . Low environmental temperatures, infections, vaccinations, strenuous exercise such as being "played with" by young children who do not allow  puppy adequate rest time, or inadequate nutrition increase the risk even further. Puppies do not know when it is time to sleep or rest! They also can't tell you when they're cold, or put on a sweater. So, please keep the temperature comfortable for them. Stay alert for signs of shivering to let you know they are cold. The smaller size puppies will need more regulating with their food/temperature. They seem to have a faster metabolism and need to eat more often.

 

Treatment:

I am not a veterinarian and this article is intended to assist you in emergency care, should the need arise. The treatment I explain is what we use in mild  and or starting cases of hypoglycemia. If the puppy is in the middle of a convulsion or stiff only immediate veterinary help will help your puppy survive. Your puppy will  need intravenous fluids to restore his sugar balance.

The level of the blood sugar must be raised at once and the stress condition treated. Corn Syrup (any brand) must be given and if in late stages of an attack it will usually be given by force into the mouth on the tongue or roof of the mouth. You can give it to the puppy in a dropper mixed with water. Brown or white sugar will suffice until you can get corn syrup. Dip your wet finger into the sugar and rub it on the tongue and roof of the mouth or mix the sugar with water and use a dropper, making sure that your puppy or pom does not choke.  Doing this several times over a period of 20 minutes can relieve the first symptoms. Alternatively, you can administer Nutri-Cal or Nutri-Stat (a high calorie gel that can be rubbed on the gums or swabbed in the mouth with your finger), or INSTANT GLUCOSE (available for diabetics at your pharmacy). Instant glucose will reveive your puppy faster than corn syrup and/or Nutri-Cal. The procedure to administer any of these choices is the same. Do it several times over a period of 20 minutes. Additionally, if the puppy/dog seems cool/cold, you may need to place puppy on a heating pad that is covered with a towel. Make sure it is on a low setting and don't leave the puppy unattended in the event he/she begins to chew. Your puppy should revive within 20 -45 minutes, but if no signs of improvement occur after 45 minutes, please rush puppy to the veterinarian at once! THIS IS ONLY ADVICE and only a veterinarian can help a seriously hypoglycemic pup. If your pom or pom puppy does not respond, rush him/her immediately to the veterinarian.

Nutri-Cal/Nutristat can be found and purchased here. You should keep Nutri-cal or Nutrastat on hand and use it regularly to prevent a hypoglycemic attack up to 6 months of age. Make sure there is sugar water ( a cup of water with a spoonful of either sugar or corn syrup) available for you puppy for the 1st week after an attack.

Feeding recommendations for toy puppies at risk for hypoglycemia include: frequent feedings of high-carbohydrate (6-8 times a day), high protein and/or high fat foods. We will send home a small amount of food for you to feed your puppy. Corn syrup can be used also on a regular basis along with a small amount of sugar in their daily water.

For pups who have had recurrent or prolonged signs, monitoring the urine for ketones with a "dipstick" made for diabetics is helpful, since a return to "ketone negative status" signals a return to normalcy. If these measures don't correct the problem, a trip to the vet is necessary.  Intravenous feedings may be necessary and the vet will need to check the puppy for more serious problems.

Even if this never occurs to your puppy or adult, it is important that you know about this to aid your veterinarian in diagnosing the problem. This usually affects tiny toy puppies and most of them outgrow this danger by 6 months of age. However, it can happen to tiny Pomeranians, even as adults. Careful attention must be paid to the diet of any TINY TOY DOG.  It is NEVER enough to only feed your toy dog once a day. Please free feed and leave your pom puppy or adults food out at all times. :)

*If you desire to switch feed, this should be done on a gradual basis . It is important that your dog switch dog food gradually from his current dog food (what I send home) to avoid digestive upset or tummy trouble. To transition, mix your dog's current food with his new food. Over 7 days, gradually decrease the amount of the current dog food while increasing the amount of new dog food.

If you have any further questions or problems, please feel free to contact me!