Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar. The most common form of hypoglycemia occurs in puppies up to 4-months-old and is called “Transient Juvenile Hypoglycemia,” which can be easily reversed with proper nutrition. Hypoglycemia will never disappear on its own and puppies that exhibit symptoms must be treated immediately.
Most Likely Victims of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is most prevalent in toy breed puppies that are not eating a lot of food and that can often be over-active. Even a brief period of fasting by a toy breed puppy that is very active can trigger a hypoglycemic attack. But although puppies of very small and toy breeds are more prone to Transient Juvenile Hypoglycemia, dogs of any breed can develop the condition.
A lack of interest in food is one of the first indications of hypoglycemia. Other symptoms include grey or white gums (which indicate a lack of circulation) and “tenting” of the skin (if you pull up your dog’s skin and it stays up rather than flattening out, he is dehydrated and probably not eating enough). If not treated right away, later symptoms include weakness, behavior changes, confusion, wobbliness, and/or seizures. In rare cases it could be fatal.
If you notice any of the symptoms described above, you should immediately feed your dog and also give it Nutri-Cal or Karo syrup, forcing it to eat if necessary. Make sure to discuss this procedure with your vet, who can demonstrate proper technique. Eating food that is easily digested will reverse minor symptoms, but intravenous glucose administration is required in more severe cases.
Owners must make sure their new puppies eat at least 4-5 times a day and avoid over-exercise. Older dogs should be on a regular feeding schedule and exercise regimen. Prevention also means that owners should monitor for possible symptoms. If these simple precautions are taken, however, hypoglycemia is easily preventable.