Small dog – big problem by Nora Schmidt, DVM

Many of us get very excited when we head to a breeder or pet store to pick out a toy breed puppy to adopt – be it a yorkie, maltese, toy poodle, chihuahua or other variety. Loving, cuddling and caring for such a tiny, helpless creature brings out the nurturing instinct in all of us. Many breeders adopt these tiny puppies out at 5-8 weeks of age, when they weigh only one to two pounds. What people don’t realize is just how fragile these little pups are and how demanding their metabolisms are at this stage. A toy breed puppy needs to eat a high-quality puppy food every few hours in order to keep its blood sugar level up. If this puppy were to miss a meal or lose nutrients because it is vomiting or having diarrhea, its blood sugar would most likely drop to a critical level very quickly. This drop leaves us cradling a very weak, tired, floppy puppy in our arms. Sometimes this can progress to wobbly movement and even seizures. We rush to the car and drive to the nearest veterinary clinic.
Upon arrival at the veterinary clinic, our fading puppy will have its blood sugar checked, which only requires one drop of blood. When the blood sugar is found to be low, which is known as hypoglycemia, an IV catheter will be placed and an injection of dextrose (a type of sugar) will be given intravenously. If our puppy has been vomiting, having diarrhea or not eating, the veterinarian will run the appropriate diagnostics in order to be able to treat our pup successfully.  Any sick puppy or weak, tired puppy should be brought to the nearest veterinary clinic immediately.
People often ask what they can do for their tiny puppy when it is fading at home since feeling helpless to assist those we love is a terrible feeling.   If a toy breed puppy or dog ever appears weak and tired or wobbly, their owners can rub some corn syrup on the pup’s gums. This small amount of sugar should be enough to help stabilize the pup’s blood sugar for the short ride to a veterinarian’s office. If the puppy is sick or won’t eat, it should be brought to a veterinary clinic immediately. However, if a healthy pup has missed a meal but is interested in eating, it should be fed right after the corn syrup is rubbed on the gums. A good meal should hopefully help resolve the hypoglycemia.  There is also a product, Nutri-Cal, which is a nutrient-dense paste. Nutri-Cal is a must-have for anyone with a toy breed puppy as it can be applied into the pup’s mouth when a nutrient boost is needed.
Ideally, toy breed puppies should be adopted out to new homes at twelve weeks of age. At that age, they are more able to stabilize their own blood sugar, though the risk of hypoglycemia still exists. Regardless of what age a toy breed puppy is, a few simple rules should always be followed. Always make sure they are eating frequent, high-quality meals. Have corn syrup and Nutri-Cal at the ready in case of emergencies. And always make a trip to the vet immediately if the pup shows any signs of illness, including vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence or weakness. Adhering to these rules will help you and your toy breed pup spend many happy years together.



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