Toy and teacup breeds are becoming very popular. These babies can often fit in the palm of our hands when full grown. They present themselves with wonderful attributes like other full size dogs, but have the portability due to their tiny size. When these dogs are babies, they are at significant risks for hypoglycemia. Please read further on tips to prevent toy breed hypoglycemia and how to appropriately respond should the situation arise. The most common toy breeds are Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Toy Poodles, and Pomeranians.
Toy breed dogs are even smaller as puppies. These tiny puppies tend to develop their baby teeth late and thus have trouble chewing kibbled foods. They also have a harder time maintaining body temperature, which promotes weakness. These factors combined result in reduced food intake and difficulty keeping up their blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) leads to listlessness, in-coordination, and even seizures.
Before you bring home your puppy
Make sure you are prepared to be around and available at most times during your new puppies earlier months. A young toy breed puppy is a project more so than any other type of puppy. You may need to feed and witness food intact 4-6 times daily. Soft puppy foods are often needed as these puppies may not be able to eat hard food at first. They need extra warmth and it is important that you make an appointment with your veterinarian for a well-baby check immediately after adopting your new puppy.
Puppies of this size do not tolerate infections well and it is best to treat/prevent anything while they are feeling well and thriving. Infections include fleas and intestinal parasites. They are simply too small to have any blood to give away to blood sucking parasites. They need to be adequately dewormed and checked over for any signs of infectious disease. Diarrhea is common for puppies but a very tiny puppy cannot withstand the dehydration that comes with diarrhea. Due to increased exposure, it is known that pet store puppies are at high risk for kennel cough. Parvovirus or Distemper are particular disasters for puppies of this size as well. Routine veterinary care and vaccinations are extremely important for these babies.
Preventing Problems with your new Toy Breed Puppy
Remember how sensitive to problems these puppies are. If your puppy is coughing, has diarrhea, is vomiting, has appetite loss, or seems listless, waste no time in seeing the vet.
Be sure your puppy is eating and well. There are tiny toy breed kibbles available at most toy stores. This kibble should be left out and available at all times. It is possible/likely your puppy will be unable to eat this kibble at first. You should be offering a canned variety every 4-6 hours and confirming these babies are eating well that often until directed otherwise by your veterinarian. Be sure the food you are using is soft enough and that your puppy will reliably eat it.
Nutrical: A Handy Supplement
This product is frequently provided by both veterinarians and breeders for use in toy breed puppies. It consists basically of a malt-flavored paste with sugar and vitamins. Some puppies will readily lap it off fingers and others will only take it if it is smeared on the roof of the mouth. If a puppy seems listless, the first thing to do is attempt feeding. If the puppy will not eat, a finger tip of Nutrical may make all the difference. You can also use Karo syrup in a bind.
What to Do if you Think your Puppy Is Hypoglycemic
Hypoglycemia can be an emergency. The puppy will be listless and maybe even uncoordinated. In an extreme case, the puppy will become cold, lose consciousness, and begin to have seizures. Immediately apply a small amount of Karo syrup (or honey) onto the puppies gums. It will absorb through the gums so swallowing is not necessary. Then the puppy should be rushed to your local veterinarian immediately or the closest an animal emergency hospital.
Upon immediate arrival in the hospital, the puppy will be warmed and a blood sugar level checked. Intravenous access will be obtained and dextrose (sugar water) will be infused directly into the blood stream. Response is generally rapid once sugar is supplied in this way and a sugar drip or regular sugar injections will be continued. But the puppy has to reliably eat and maintain its blood sugars and body temperature on its own before it can go home. Anticipate the need for 24-hour care and expect a few days of care.
Factors that predispose to hypoglycemic events
Often times, there is more to hypoglycemia than just low blood sugar. While being extra small and extra young is enough to drop blood sugar, sometimes there is more to the story which is why a routine early check up is important to avoid these complicating factors listed below:
- Bacterial infection
- Bacteria can be tremendous consumers of glucose (blood sugar). For this reason, hypoglycemic puppies frequently are given antibiotics.
- Congenital defects such as Portosystemic (Liver) shunts
- This is a common problem for certain breeds such as Yorkshire terriers. In this congenital malformation of the liver circulation, blood travels from the GI tract to the general circulation by-passing the liver. The liver does not develop properly and has abnormal function. One of the liver’s functions is to maintain the body’s blood sugar level. An abnormal liver leads to low blood sugar. This condition can frequently be cured with surgery.
- Parasitism (fleas, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, etc)
- Stress from any cause increases the body’s demand for sugar. This is why it is especially important to ensure the general health of the toy breed puppy. When stressors are present, maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is all the more difficult.
When your puppy comes home again after a hypoglycemic episode, it is important to watch food intake and be aware of any changes in energy level. As the puppy gets bigger, risk factors for hypoglycemia diminish. Their teeth get stronger, body fat stores develop, and the immune system matures. Eventually, hypoglycemia risks become minimal and the puppy can continue life as any other puppy.