It is a common problem for small dogs, particularly Chihuahuas, and affects puppies more than adult dogs.
When the natural blood sugar levels drop, a Chis body attempts to get more energy by using up fat stored around the liver.
When this store of fat is depleted, your Chi will lose energy rapidly and become progressively weaker. Ultimately this lack of blood sugar can cause coma and death. Chihuahuas have a very small fat layer around their liver making them particularly susceptible to hypoglycaemia.
Signs and Symptoms
When you bring a new Chihuahua puppy into your home you are most likely thinking about all the good times you are going to have. Thoughts of games, Chihuahua clothes and other Chihuahua gifts swim through your head. Many owners even have plans for the first birthday party while their pup is still only a matter of months old!
This is all normal and part of the excitement of getting a Chi. However, the reality of dealing with the health issues that can sometimes come with a Chihuahua puppy are not all fun and games. Hopefully you are one of the lucky owners who never have to worry about hypoglycaemia but just in case you do there are a few signs and symptoms to be aware of.
Many Chihuahua puppies that have a problem with low blood sugar grow out of the condition after 16 weeks of age when their liver becomes more fully developed. Stress can be a major factor in the onset of a hypoglycaemic attack as well so once your Chihuahua puppy matures and becomes better able to handle stress the danger is lessened.
After you bring your puppy home be on the alert for signs of depression, lethargy or a sudden decrease in energy. Some puppies will stagger and fall down and appear to be drunk or sleepy. While this may look funny it could be the beginning of a hypoglycaemic attack. Your pup may soon progress to seizures, followed by a comatose state and ultimately death.
What To Do If You Chi Is Having An Attack
It is vitally important to get your Chihuahua to the veterinarian immediately. They may need to inject a glucose solution into your Chi’s vein to raise the blood sugar levels. If your Chi is still conscious before you leave home, try rubbing a little corn syrup on his or her gums. This will slowly be swallowed and help raise the sugar levels prior to leaving home.
Your veterinarian may want to do some diagnostic testing to make sure that your Chi is suffering from hypoglycaemia and not some other disorder such as diabetes. It is best to know exactly what you are dealing with from the start, rather than wait until several attack have occurred.
Causes of Hypoglycaemic Attacks
Stress is a major cause of low blood sugar for Chihuahuas. Their most vulnerable time is before the age of 16 weeks and during that time they are put through a number of stressful experiences. Leaving their mother and siblings, going to a new home, visiting the vet for the first time, receiving vaccinations and getting their first bath and nail trim. These may not seem like anything major to you but to a diminutive Chi they can be incredibly stressful.
Stress by itself is a problem but it also often causes Chihuahuas to go off their food. This is a very dangerous situation. Chi puppies need to eat several small frequent meals throughout the day to help regulate their blood sugar. If stress causes them to miss a couple of meals this can seriously affect their sugar levels and bring about the onset of an attack.
Some people believe that puppies with a large parasite burden are also at risk for hypoglycaemia. As the worms in their gut reduce the amount of nourishment a Chi puppy gets from its food this makes sense. A situation similar to skipping meals is set up. Deworming your new puppy is very important.
Try to remember to be watchful with your new puppy and feed small frequent meals to prevent a drop in blood sugar. Don’t overwhelm your puppy with new situations and take them to the vet if you see any signs of hypoglycaemia.