Hypoglycemia in Chihuahuas

What it is, why it happens and how to prevent and treat it


(Low Blood Sugar)

This is a central nervous system disorder caused by low sugar. It occurs mainly in toy breeds between six and twelve weeks of age.

Often it is precipitated by stress.

The first signs are those of listlessness and depression. They are followed by muscular weakness, tremors (especially in the facial muscles) and later convulsions, coma and death. The entire sequence is not always seen. The dog may appear to be depressed or may be weak, wobbly and jerky; or the puppy may be found in a coma.

Hypoglycemia can occur without warning when a puppy is placed in a new home, or while being shipped. It might appear after a puppy misses a meal, chills, becomes exhausted from too much playing or has a digestive upset. These upsets place an added strain on the energy reserves of the liver and bring on symptoms (if the dog is susceptible).

Puppies that are weaned on rice and hamburger are more likely to develop hypoglycemia. Their diet is deficient in certain ingredients needed to sustain the liver. Never purchase a dog or puppy that isn't on a path to eating standard, high-quality dog kibble.

A similar condition occurs in adult hunting dogs when hunting. Care should be taken to feed these dogs before hunting and increase the protein in their diet.

Treatment is directed at restoring blood levels of glucose. Begin at once. Prolonged or repeated attacks can cause permanent damage to the brain. If a puppy is awake, give Karo syrup, honey or sugar in water by mouth. You should begin to see improvement in thirty minutes. When unconscious, a puppy will have to be given a dextrose solution intravenously. It may be necessary to treat for swelling of the brain.

A veterinarian should be called at once.

Prevent recurrent attacks by feeding a high-quality kibble diet. The only 'supplements' that we recommend as needed and prescribed by your Veterinarian is BeneBac and Omega Red Krill (300 mg for our adults that use it).

Breeders should wean puppies on a balanced diet. We use and highly recommend a GMO-FREE diet for your dog. We use Hills Science

Diet puppy and dog food (kibble primarily) and also recommend Dr. Gary's Best Breed (www.bestbreed.com) who are GMO-FREE. Food supplements should not exceed 10 percent of the total ration. Owners of Toy puppies should not overtire them or allow them to chill. 

A condition exists in which hypoglycemia is persistent of periodic. It is caused by an enzyme deficiency and is not responsive to treatment.
*Portions were taken from the Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook 

Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M. and James M. Giffin, M.D.

© Working Dog Chihuahuas by Midwest, 2007