The Dangers of Low Blood Sugar

Eating Puppies

Two of Fern’s puppies learning to eat solid food


Wait Baby

If you read much about the safest age to bring a toy or extra small miniature-sized dog home you will likely notice the age is much later than the safest age to bring home a miniature or standard sized dog. Ever wonder why? Why is it ok to bring a puppy home at 7-8 weeks of age if the dog will mature to 18 pounds but downright dangerous to bring a puppy home before 10-12 weeks of age if the dog will mature to 8 pounds? Can a future size difference of ten pounds really make that much of a difference?


Absolutely. And one major reason for the delay in leaving mom is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This might make the casual reader think “Oh, come on. Really? So if the puppy gets hungry and a bit dizzy-acting we’ll give him some kibble. What is the big deal?”


The Danger

Well it really is a big deal, really truly. Hypoglycemia can rapidly deteriorate the condition of your puppy and will (not can, WILL) lead to seizures and death if not remedied appropriately and immediately and then you must continually (and carefully) maintain a proper balance in that puppy. A weakened puppy remains more prone to repeat attacks. It is also known that a dog (or person) that has suffered a seizure is more prone to having a repeat seizure for the rest of his/her life.


A puppy with low blood sugar can very easily fall or stumble or even lose consciousness and cause serious soft tissue damage when it strikes something on his way to the floor. A small puppy can bleed to death extremely quickly and facial wounds bleed exceptionally fast. I can’t imagine how upsetting it must be to walk into a room and see your bloody, weak and possibly seizing puppy lying on the floor!


Don’t Starve the Dog

If you think that it must be only an idiot (or possibly worse: a cruel, abusive idiot) who ignores his hungry dog or puppy long enough for hypoglycemia to set in you’d also be sorely mistaken. Many puppies and dogs can actually refuse to eat perfectly healthy, high quality food. This especially happens to stressed out puppies brought to new homes for the first time. These guys can easily go off their feed and it does not take long for hypoglycemia to take hold of their tiny, vulnerable baby bodies. Furthermore the symptoms of hypoglycemia are not that easily noticed until the blood sugar has reached a critical level.


If you think it is as simple as offering a dog some food and everything gets better, think again. Often the symptoms of hypoglycemia make the sufferer feel very nauseated and uncomfortable. Your now-sick dog or puppy is not going to voluntarily eat anything at this point and indeed may even be incapable of such an act.


Dogs Need Blood Sugar?

I’ve also heard people comment “Well, dogs are carnivores, so why is their blood sugar level important?”  Dogs do require sugar in the form of glucose for their brains to function. Their muscles and other systems will also use glucose. The important distinction is that the brain MUST use glucose. The same is true with humans. The brain needs glucose to function.


Carnivores, as you would expect, have a lovely way to create their own glucose pretty quickly from the non-carbohydrate animals they eat. A sick dog or a baby dog or a dog that has something heavily taxing her system and not enough food intake can have such a sharp decrease in blood glucose over such a short time frame that it can cause collapse and death before the body is able to turn stored body fat into fuel for the brain to properly run body systems. (Yikes).


A puppy has such an immature little baby body. Their little systems don’t hardly know what they are doing. Young puppies also don’t come pre-loaded with gorgeous rolls of baby fat the same way that human babies do, either. In order for those immature little systems to get all the glucose they need to fuel those adorable and disproportionately large heads baby mammals are blessed with the ability to consume a lovely carbohydrate rich food: milk. Puppies, while carnivores, actually do receive quite a large amount of carbohydrates from their mother’s milk and do require their consumption for a time.


After weaning your puppy is going to have an adjustment period where he will have to consume easy to digest food (as mom would be regurgitating food for him) on a frequent basis. Toy sized dogs are far from “natural” beings. The original, wild canine is much larger and those pups are able to have more space between feedings. Because of this newly weaned puppies that are small in size are especially susceptible to low blood sugar. Without the necessary glucose the puppy’s little brain will suffer. This is not something you want to put your pup, or yourself through.


The early symptoms of hypoglycemia can be very difficult to spot. This is especially true for a family with a new puppy. Remember you have no baseline of normal behavior to compare your new puppy’s behavior to! How do you know that your puppy is acting a bit “off” if you aren’t accustomed to how your puppy acts? You should call your breeder if you have any concerns but nothing obvious enough to warrant a trip to your vet. A good breeder will know exactly how your individual puppy acts on a normal basis and will be able to help you decide what the next course of action should be. When in doubt call your veterinarian and go in for an exam. Better safe than sorry.



Your puppy could be showing mild easy-to-miss symptoms

  • as minor as being sleepy
  • perhaps a tiny bit off balance
  • Since puppies are new to this whole walking, running, hopping thing they tend to fall down occasionally already, so minor dizziness can be easy to miss in a new puppy.
  • Furthermore puppies already sleep quite a lot as they are doing so much growing. A new owner might not realize the listless puppy is anything other than a sleepy baby animal.


The early signs of hypoglycemia include:

  • listlessness or sleepiness
  • ataxia (uncoordinated movements)
  • pacing
  • uneasiness
  • panting


This can quickly progress into a more serious situation which could include

  • tremors of the face and body
  • tachycardia (rapidly beating heart)
  • tachypnea (abnormally rapid breathing); you might notice drooling or foaming at the mouth as the dog won’t have time between breaths to swallow saliva
  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • coma
  • death


Once the serious symptoms of critical hypoglycemia hit (and these are terrifying indeed) there is precious little time to rectify the situation before very serious damage can occur. The tiny toy puppy can die very quickly from seemingly minor conditions like short-term hypoglycemia (or dehydration).


Puppy weaning mix


If your puppy is showing signs of hypoglycemia you will need to know what to do. Click HERE so that you have the knowledge beforehand.


In summation hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition for your puppy. If you have a toy breed puppy or a very small miniature puppy it is especially critical to pay attention for the signs, but regardless of what kind of baby dog you have you must ensure your puppy is consuming adequate amounts of quality food at regular intervals sufficient to keep him stable and healthy. In order to know the right amounts of food at the right frequency please consult knowledgeable breeders and a veterinarian.


For a non-toy Cockapoo puppy it is best to feed the little guy in at least 3-5 small meals a day until 10-12 weeks, at which time a healthy puppy can begin eating 2-3 times per day and around 6 months old the puppy can eat only 2 meals a day. At about a year of age a Cockapoo can certainly be fed only once per day although there are many good reasons to continue feeding twice per day or more often. Always take into consideration your own dog’s health, activity level, the digestibility of the food being offered (carbohydrate rich kibble isn’t providing the right kind of sustaining energy or as many calories as they should be getting, while taking space in a small baby’s tummy, removing desire and capacity for needed nutrients and calories.)

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