Chihuahua Blood Sugar Problems
What Is Hypoglycemia in Chihuahuas?
Chihuahuas, like many small breeds, have trouble regulating their blood sugar. The first time my Chi suffered an episode of low sugar, I really did not know what was wrong. He was 7 months old and had a pretty typical day. Then a short time after playing, he started walking like he was drunk. It was as though he had no control over his legs. He threw up foam and then basically fell over. I was beside myself; how did we go from playing one minute to this scene the next?
I have always had at least one dog in my life, but my Chihuahua, Norbit, was my first small breed of dog, and I was not savvy to the hypoglycemia thing. It was on a Sunday, so we wrapped Norbit up in a blanket and went to the emergency vet. They took one look and said my dog had been poisoned. I said that was really impossible, as he literally spent zero time unattended. I knew for certain my dog hadn't chewed on anything but his toys. Then another vet tech on duty said, "He is in sugar shock." She had several rescue Chihuahuas at home herself, and she said low blood sugar wasn't uncommon in small breeds.
She put some Karo syrup on a flat wooden stick and he just stared at it glassy-eyed like he had no idea how to lick. So she put roughly a teaspoon of the syrup in a syringe and—while explaining I should never do this at home as he could choke—he gently pushed the syrup right down this throat. He was seriously right as rain in a very short time. It was extremely frightening, however, and I vowed to do my best to keep my dog from ever experiencing this again by learning why it happened and what I could do to prevent it.
What Symptoms Will My Chihuahua Have?
In the case of my dog, his low blood sugar was caused by a play session that went on a little too long and too hard. Who can say no when a puppy keeps wanting to play? That was my mistake and I definitely learned from it.
I found from talking to my vet that a chihuahua with low blood sugar may:
- Wobble when either standing or sitting.
- If laying down your dog may have trouble lifting his head.
- Your dog may have a blank stare with glassy eyes.
- Often dogs in sugar shock tilt their heads to one side as if their head is very heavy on one side.
- As the low blood sugar progresses, your dog may shake badly, drool and froth at the mouth.
- Obvious signs of being disoriented.
Home Treatment of Hypoglycemia for Your Chihuahua
These tips for home treatment are only to get your Chihuahua up and about. Always follow up with your veterinarian. It's important to make sure there are no other outstanding medical issues that may have the same symptoms as low blood sugar such as tumors, bacterial infections, pancreatic issues and other serious medical conditions.
Feed Your Chi Something Sweet
Your goal here is to raise your dog's blood sugar, so something sweet is in order. You can use honey, Karo syrup, or maple syrup. Also, I've used vanilla ice cream. As hypoglycemia can progress quickly and become life-threatening for your pooch, it's important to act fast.
Note: Whatever method you choose to raise your dog's sugar level, don't just put honey in his mouth. He could choke. If he will lick it off your fingers, great. If not, you can rub honey, syrups or ice cream on your dog's gums. Be careful, disoriented dogs can bite.
If your dog has passed into the severe stage of low blood sugar and is having focal seizures or unconscious, keep rubbing syrup on their gums on the way to the vet; it may be life-saving for your pet. It doesn't take much. On the few occasions my 10-lb chihuahua has gone into sugar shock, it's taken just a couple of teaspoons of honey to bring him around.
Give Them Regular Food as Soon as Possible
After your dog becomes alert, he should eat as soon as possible so his blood sugar can become stable. You can give your dog regular food or treats; whatever you can get him interested in eating is fine.
Note: If your pup seems reluctant to eat, you can add a little honey or ice cream to their bowl to entice them to eat.
Last Word About Low Blood Sugar and Your Chihuahua
You can almost entirely avoid bouts of hypoglycemia by feeding your dog regularly and according to Dr. Greg Martinez DVM, since a lot of commercial dog foods are high in grain products, those foods actually set your dog up for low blood sugar. By switching to a low-glycemic dog food, you can help your Chi maintain a more constant sugar level.
My vet advised me to feed my dog more than twice a day. So I just took his total amount of food and divided it up into smaller servings and if we do happen to have a play session that he over-exerts himself, and he loves to play hard, I make sure he eats a snack afterwards and it's kept the low blood sugar incidents at bay along with more frequent, smaller meals.
Also, if you have a Chihuahua or other small breed, make sure you have honey, Karo syrup, or vanilla ice cream at the ready. My vet also recommended a supplement called Nutri-Cal, which is a high-calorie supplement that provides extra energy. I hope you never have to experience this with your dog, but if you do, now you know how to handle it.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2013 JoLynn Potocki