The first time my Chi got "sugar shock," I was terrified. Here are signs and symptoms to watch for, as well as a few ways to avoid it.
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.
© 2013 JoLynn Potocki
Connie Durbin on October 22, 2019:
I wished i had known this i lost our baby toby two weeks ago, he was 12 weeks old and started this. We tried but he didnt make it, but will have a better idel now, thanks for the information
Angela Dreher on May 08, 2019:
My Chihuahua has low sugar and has seizures....the maple syrup works...but another thing that works is sugar water...Every morning before I go to work I give him a syringe filled with sugar water .I made up some sugar water and put it a water bottle in my fridge...I give it a good shake to mix it and then put it in the syringe..my dog loves it ...It's nice and cold and sweet...haven't had any issues with seizures since and he was having them often before I started this...it works.
Christina on January 08, 2019:
Our applehead "Samba" experienced this not too long ago. I felt so helpless but my brother in law knew what was wrong immediately. Thank you so much for your article and advice. Its already helped us out.
Hinkle norma on January 07, 2019:
This is a great thing to know I wish I could had know how to no m yo baby boy buddie had parvo m ok w I'm ahead if some thing should happen signed Ms Hinkle Reno NV.
Kathy on May 22, 2018:
i wish i had seen this before my baby was 2mos.i had her a week an she past away sunday night from a sugar problem she was fine then just got sick all at once my heart is broken i loves her so much. now i no an its to late for my baby.
Teddy on May 03, 2018:
This article saved my sanity today! It was only a little over an hour ago that I read this and at the time I was worrying over my dog, Sophia, who was heartworm positive when we brought her home from the shelter. We've had her less than 2 months and she's 4 years old but you wouldn't think it if you met her. They'd only done the treatment a few days before we brought her home and she was on strict "bed" rest. We let her play a little but calmed her after a few minutes because we didn't want her to start coughing. So, we've only recently begun to see how playful and energetic she is. Not anxious energy (only thunder and riding in the car frighten her.) She's curious, fun, lighthearted, loving, absolutely adorable and even though out of my family of 4 only my daughter wanted a chihuahua (my husband specifically said "NO CHIHUAHUAS" but that was before he held 9 lbs of shivering love in his arms the 30 minute drive home.) Within 72 hours of bringing her home, we were all hopelessly besotted with her. We had lost my beloved dog, Pippin, in October of last year. I'd had him for almost 13 years and I didn't want another dog. Oh, how wrong I was.
So I was absolutely terrified when she began to act lethargic and glassy-eyed earlier around 3 pm. By 6 pm she was trembling intermittently and moving slowly and uninterested in anything. Our other dog, a spaniel/terrier mix, was the smallest dog I'd ever had by a mile. My family has always had German shepherds, labs, great Danes! So, yeah, huuuuge leap for us. I knew it wasn't heartworms and she wasn't in pain or vomiting or any signs that she was sick. I stumbled upon this article when trying to find what might be wrong. I am so grateful to you! She wasn't so far gone that she couldn't walk, and when I tried to feed her honey, she said, "Ew, what's this stuff." (Her sister was happy to lick it off my fingers and off Sophia's brow where I'd accidentally smeared some.) So, I fed her a can of dog food rather than dry & ten minutes later she was my Sophia again.
So a thousand good wishes for you and many blessings and hugs and thank yous!!
Hi Courtney! on April 29, 2018:
I am not a vet and the best thing I can tell you is if you see your dog is in a seizure stage - get to your vet immediately. I have had more than one person tell me they rubbed their dog's gums with corn syrup or maple syrup when the dog was unable to even lick and in both cases the vet told the owners that action may have saved their dog's life. I would never recommend handling this situation on your own, though. Always involve your vet.
Courtney Landaverde on April 16, 2018:
How long will it take for the seizure last
JoLynn Potocki (author) from Toledo, OH on January 29, 2018:
Lynn, I am just seeing this and I am so sorry you had to go through that scary situation!
Lynn on November 26, 2017:
Thank you so much this is extremely helpful. This is whats happen to our little man and we had no idea. Very thankful for your article:)
cindy gearhart on July 07, 2016:
thanks this was very helpfull.
Kayleigh on September 12, 2014:
Thank you for this. My Chihuahua has had severely low sugar for a few days now and the vet wants to put him to sleep because they can't find the cause. They say it will affect his brain if he keeps having regular bouts of low sugar so I'm looking for ways to keep it up.
It just so happens I have a jar of honey in the cupboard from when my little brother came to stay (I despise honey lol) So I will try that.
He isn't eating at all though so I am having to syringe feed him 5ml of prescription diet every hour and also syringe feed him a glucose solution.
He is still crashing though, did your vet give you any other tips for getting his sugar up? My Mum has gone to buy ice cream so I will try that too. I just really don't want them to put him down, he is only 2 years old :(
Katy on September 04, 2014:
Thank you my maltese Bo is going through this right now and this helped a lot. Saving this article.
More information about the micro teacup Chihuahua breeders
You can find breeders and places for buying a teacup Chihuahua very easily, because both are at a large abundance. Moreover – the more spots for selling, the more different types of Chihuahuas.
However, your biggest task, though, is to distinguish the trustworthy Chihuahua breeder from the fraud.
We really hope that this article was helpful for you to understand more about the Teacup Chihuahuas. These puppies are so amazing, loving and great, but their bigger versions are the same! Remember, though, that the smaller puppies need the bigger cares!
What Foods Are Bad, Poisonous, & Toxic to Chihuahuas? 25 Bad Foods!
As a Chihuahua owner, you will know only too well how delicate their little stomachs can be. They are renowned for being sick after certain foods, and far more than other breeds might be. It’s not always possible to keep your dog from reacting badly to certain foods, but you can eliminate a lot of sickness by not letting them eat foods that are bad for Chihuahuas.
I recommend you print this list off and stick it your refrigerator… some of the foods I list that your dog should avoid, aren’t just bad for your Chihuahua, they could even be fatal. Some will poison your dog and are foods that are toxic to Chihuahuas.
Because of this, I’ve put the most poisonous foods to Chihuahuas first on the list. It explains why they are toxic and even how much they might eat before you call a vet.
Bottom line though if your Chihuahua eats anything they shouldn’t, don’t wait to read notes like this on the Internet – call your vet!
So, if you want to find out what food Chihuahuas can’t eat, plus some plants that are poisonous to them too – read on.
Inexperience: The Easiest Way New Puppy Parents Are Fooled by Low Blood Sugar
“But she was eating just fine.”
Doc Truli hears this every day. There are a few reasons a puppy that appears to be eating still gets hypoglycemia – low blood sugar. Most of these reasons have to do with husbandry, or the way you care for the new puppy. A very few of the reasons have to do with healthcare and disease of the puppy. This is why most pet stores and less-then-reputable breeders will not honor a health guarantee if the illness is hypoglycemia–Hypoglycemia is almost always preventable in a healthy puppy.
So, the easiest way you are fooled and let your new puppy get hypoglycemia is inexperience. You either never cared for a small breed puppy before, or your previous dog was “always healthy,” and you never really had to pay attention, because your perfect dog was an “easy keeper” and never seemed to need special care or attention to detail.
Addison disease, also called hypoadrenocorticism, is caused by a deficiency of adrenal gland hormones. It is most common in young to middle-aged dogs. The cause is usually not known, but an autoimmune condition in which the body destroys some of its own tissue is likely. The adrenal gland can also be destroyed by other conditions, including medications used to treat Cushing disease and cancer in other parts of the body. Secretion of aldosterone, the main mineralocorticoid hormone, is reduced, which affects the levels of potassium, sodium, and chloride in the blood. Potassium gradually builds up in the blood and, in severe cases, may cause the heart to slow down or beat irregularly. Some dogs have such a slow heart rate (50 beats per minute or lower) that they can become weak or go into shock. Decreased production of glucocorticoids (such as cortisol) results in moderately low blood sugar. Dogs with atypical Addison disease can have low blood levels of cortisol but normal levels of sodium, potassium, and chloride.
Signs of Addison disease include repeated episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration, and a gradual loss of body condition. Weight loss is often severe. Although signs can be hard to identify while Addison disease is developing, severe consequences, such as shock and evidence of kidney failure, can develop suddenly. The condition may be inherited in Standard Poodles, West Highland White Terriers, Great Danes, Bearded Collies, Portuguese Water Dogs, and a variety of other breeds. Although the disease can be seen in any breed, sex, or age, it is most common in young, female, adult dogs.
A veterinarian can make a tentative diagnosis based on the history, signs, and certain laboratory abnormalities, such as very low levels of sodium and very high levels of potassium in the blood. The diagnosis is confirmed by specific evaluation of adrenal function. This is done by measuring the level of cortisol in the blood, treating the dog with adrenocorticotropin (a hormone that stimulates the adrenal gland in healthy animals), and then measuring the level of cortisol in the blood a second time. Affected dogs have low baseline cortisol levels, and there is little response to administration of adrenocorticotropin.
An adrenal crisis is a medical emergency and requires treatment with intravenous fluids to restore levels of body fluids, salt, and sugar to normal. Hormone replacement treatment can often be started while the pet is being stabilized. Laboratory values are monitored regularly to assess response to treatment and adjust doses if needed. For longterm treatment, replacement hormones can be given by mouth or injection. Lifelong treatment is necessary.