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Neonatal Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia results when the circulating blood glucose drops below the specified limits of normal, also referred to as low blood sugar. This can be a common occurrence in very young puppies and kittens. Toy breed puppies (Yorkies, Toy Poodles, Maltese, etc.) are the most frequently affected type of dog, but any very young puppy or kitten can be affected.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia in the early stages are extreme lethargy, weakness, and trembling. As the blood sugar level drops, more severe symptoms can develop such as vomiting, seizures, coma, and even death. It is important to seek veterinary care if you notice any of these symptoms in a young puppy or kitten. If hypoglycemia is suspected at home, pet owners can apply a high-sugar substance, such as karo syrup, honey, or maple syrup, to the gums of the pet and immediately see a veterinarian.

Causes of hypoglycemia can vary. Sometimes, in extremely small puppies and kittens, it can result from missed meals or inadequate nutrition. Toy breed puppies can develop hypoglycemia despite normal eating. In other neonates, hypoglycemia can be a sign of a more serious underlying disease; often viral infections, portosystemic shunt, or other new born illnesses. 

If your puppy or kitten is diagnosed with hypoglycemia, your veterinarian will recommend additional diagnostic testing and hospitalized care. Testing includes bloodwork and sometimes x-rays or ultrasound. Treatment in the hospital includes IV fluids supplemented with dextrose until the patient is reliably eating and maintaining his own blood glucose levels. Hypoglycemia can be a recurrent problem in toy breed puppies until they reach an adequate body weight. If you suspect hypoglycemia, contact a veterinarian immediately.