Many dog owners have noticed their pet’s energy level going down, their coat changing color, and their appetite disappearing over time. One of the more noticeable symptoms is that of low blood sugar. Usually, this is because of a sudden change in diet.
Perhaps your dog has just been switched from a high protein diet to a less desirable diet. While this can definitely be the reason for the problem, it does not explain the entire issue. In many cases, there is a medical reason for low blood sugar. This condition can be serious and should not be taken lightly.
What is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)?
Hypoglycemia is a common problem in puppies, especially in small dogs and puppies. It occurs when there is a problem with the pancreas or the liver. The result is a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream and a lack of energy to sustain the puppy’s body. This results in the lack of ability to concentrate and even sleepiness, and there are seizures. The lack of sugar can result in the loss of muscle tone.
Hypoglycemia is often caused by a diet change. If you feed your puppy a diet that is higher in protein than one that is higher in carbohydrates, your puppy will have a higher sugar level.
What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia in puppies?
The symptoms of hypoglycemia are most commonly seen in puppies of any breed. However, toy breeds, Chihuahuas, and some larger dogs are more likely to be affected. Some symptoms can be minor and some are life-threatening.
Usually a dog will begin to have symptoms that allude to low blood sugar between six months and three years. Some symptoms include:
Loss of energy – complete lack of energy or to where your dog can’t muster up the strength to move from their resting place
Malaise – lethargy, acting as if they are sick or depressed
Hiding – hiding away from family members in dark places such as closets or under furniture; this will happen more often than usual
Cold ears and nose – your dog’s ears and nose might feel colder to the touch than usual
Less hungry – when they are hungry, it is less often or not at all
Extreme hunger – when they do eat, it is with ferocious intensity; this happens very quickly
Attitude changes – this is where you will notice a difference in personality. Your dog might become more loud or rowdy overall
Sweating in dogs with black coats – normally only seen on the face in lighter colored dogs because of their facial hair. You can see that they are sweating by looking around their eyes. This symptom occurs in some incidences of low blood sugar
Seizures/convulsions – seizures may occur when blood sugar drops too low for too long. They may also occur if your dog’s blood sugar stays too high for too long
Weakness – this is where you will notice they are having trouble standing or walking
These symptoms should only last a few hours, but if it does not go away, then please visit the vet immediately. This could be something much more serious than low blood sugar.
How can you treat hypoglycemia in puppies?
ypoglycemia can be treated with intravenous fluids if you can find an owner who can provide them. Hypoglycemia can also be prevented by feeding a well-balanced diet. If you switch to a diet that has a higher percentage of carbohydrates, your puppy will have a higher sugar level.
If you can determine that your puppy has hypoglycemia, you must watch him carefully, and provide any medical treatment that may be needed. Most dogs will not have convulsions if treated early enough.
You should call your veterinarian as soon as possible when you suspect your puppy has hypoglycemia. The sooner treatment is begun, the better the chance of a healthy recovery.
When should you call a veterinarian about hypoglycemia in puppies?
If your puppy has an episode of hypoglycemia and begins to act differently, such as becomes dizzy or weak, vomiting, and appears to be in pain, it is important to seek emergency help as quickly as possible. A number of dogs will have a seizure and never regain consciousness.
Seizures in puppies are usually a result of hypoglycemia. The symptoms will most likely worsen if you delay treatment.
In puppies, hypoglycemia will not be serious enough to require immediate medical treatment. If you have been feeding your puppy a diet that is higher in protein than one that is higher in carbohydrates, or if you have changed your puppy’s diet to adult dog food, it is important to visit your veterinarian to make sure your puppy is still getting enough carbohydrates and protein. You may need to feed a more balanced diet, or you may need to increase the number of meals your puppy receives in a day to include carbohydrates. Your veterinarian will help you decide which diet is best for your puppy.
How to Prevent Hypoglycemia
Preventing hypoglycemia is more difficult than treating it. When a dog has hypoglycemia, it will not return if you continue to feed the puppy a diet higher in protein than one that is higher in carbohydrates. However, hypoglycemia can be prevented by feeding a well-balanced diet.
To determine if your puppy is eating a well-balanced diet, look at the numbers on his dog food. If you see higher numbers for the percentage of protein and carbohydrates in the food, your puppy has a higher carbohydrate percentage than recommended. Contact your vet if you do not see a recommended balance on the food.
Once you have determined that your puppy is eating a well-balanced diet, monitor his weight closely. When you notice a large weight gain, you may need to switch to adult dog food, but this should not be done too quickly. You may need to transition from puppy food to adult food over the course of several weeks.
To help prevent hypoglycemia, keep the following in mind:
- Have a well-balanced diet for your puppy.
- Determine if the diet has a higher percentage of protein or carbohydrates and make sure it is well-balanced.
- Increasing the number of meals you feed your puppy may help prevent hypoglycemia.
- Monitor his weight closely when switching from one food to another, especially from puppy food to adult dog food.