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Canine Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a sudden fall in the concentration of glucose in the blood below normal levels. The body uses glucose as its primary energy source. The brain, for example, is completely dependent upon glucose to function. The liver is responsible for manufacturing glucose and for storing it in a usable form, for release into the blood stream as needed. Muscle tissues store some of the important materials used in this process.

Hypoglycemia Must Be Treated

Transient Juvenile Hypoglycemia, which is brought on by fasting, is common in toy dog breeds, such as Yorkshire Terrier, Toy Poodle, Pomeranian and other toy dog breeds, and usually seen in puppies 5 to 16 weeks of age. Stress, low body temperature, poor nutrition, sudden change in feed, water and schedule patterns, infections, and premature birth may precipitate the onset of hypoglycemia. Some puppies, bred exclusively for tiny size ("teacup Yorkies", "teacup Chihuahua"), are even more predisposed to transient juvenile hypoglycemia since insufficient muscle mass may make it difficult for the body to store the glucose and keep its blood sugar properly regulated.

Signs of Hypoglycemia

Most common clinical signs of hypoglycemia are drowsiness, shivering, collapsing, disorientation, seizures, listlessness, depression, muscle weakness and tremors. Lee Weston, author of the article about hypoglycemia (Pomeranian Club of Canada) says that "the entire sequence of clinical signs is not always seen, so close observation of your pet and knowing when your dog is going into a distressed state can mean the difference between life and death of your dog. Immediate treatment by a veterinarian is imperative, as recurrence of, or prolonged attacks, can cause permanent damage to the brain."

It has been proven experimentally that eight hours fasting in a Yorkshire Terrier puppy can result in marked variation of blood glucose, showing both hypo- and hyperglycemia. Frequent feeding of a high-energy, protein-rich diet to both mother and puppies may prevent toy-breed puppies from developing hypoglycemia and may help them to overcome periods with a decreased intake of energy.

Hypoglycemia Can Be Caused by Xylitol

Puppies and dogs can develop severe hypoglycemia after consuming sugar-free gum sweetened with the sugar-alcohol xylitol. In humans, xylitol has little to no effect on plasma insulin or glucose levels, but in dogs xylitol is a strong promoter of insulin release and can cause severe hypoglycemia with collapse and seizures. With the increased appearance of xylitol-sweetened products in the US, xylitol toxicosis in dogs may become more common. Sometimes, a dog will outgrow this condition.


Cutting permanent teeth is critical for dental health alignment and bite examination in the show ring.  Toy Breed puppies need special attention because when breeders miniaturized the canine, the jaw bone had to compensate.  Toy breed dogs often have short muzzles and misaligned or retained baby teeth are common.  Poor dentition leads to gum infection which can cause heart problems.  Diane shares her many years of experience with teething in Toy Breeds.

Teeth & Dental Care In Toy Dogs

by Diane Finch 
with excerpts from “TNT” Top Notch Toys Magazine April 2004

Toy breed teeth and dental care are not the same as the larger dog breeds.  Toy breeds do not always loose their baby teeth so they must be pulled and they need to be pulled at the appropriate time.  My experience has taught me that few vets are knowledgeable about canine dentistry (only 6 board certified in canine dentistry in the U.S.) and Toy breeds seem to present a few more challenges.



Basically, toy breeds' lower jaw grows faster than the upper jaw.  This causes the bite to go undershot (the lower teeth protrude beyond the upper teeth – a reverse scissor bite or worse).  A scissor bite is a “man-made” bite and the even bite is a natural bite.  So according to one of the six board certified vets in canine dentistry, we have created our own problems with bites/teeth. 

If a bite on a 12 week old puppy seems to be going off – (1) undershot; (2) overshot; or wry mouth, the appropriate teeth need to be removed  – either upper and lower jaw or the teeth in the jaw that are binding.  If the bite is undershot, then remove the upper jaw teeth; if the bite is overshot, remove the lower jaw teeth; if the bite is wry*, the canines should be removed because they are locking in place the way the teeth are coming in. 

  Removing those baby teeth allows the adult set to come down into place like they should.  Because toy breeds seem to have those baby teeth anchored in so tight, they often mess up a bite severely.  Baby teeth can make adult teeth come out, making the teeth more forward (almost horizontal**) rather than straight up and down (vertical) and can cause the permanent adult teeth to appear inside the parameters of the teeth line (almost roof of the mouth).


Extract the appropriate teeth of a questionable bite at 10 to 12 weeks of age.  Remove the baby teeth as soon as you see a bite starting to go off and certainly all baby teeth should be out by 6 months of age.  The canine teeth don’t normally come out till the dog is 9 months of age but if the bite looks like it is off, the proper jaw’s canines should be removed. 

Also remember that if you do not remove baby teeth, the bite could go undershot since the lower jaw naturally grows faster than the upper jaw – sometimes it takes up to a year and sometimes a year and a half to correct on it’s own.  If the dog is a valuable show dog, you run a risk of a messed up bite if you do nothing or your vet doesn’t know what to do or advises you to just watch the bite.  It is safer to pull the teeth at the appropriate times.  A vet using isoflorine is best and no other medication, and one that can keep small kittens alive during surgery is what you need to find to do your dental work on toy breeds.  If a vet says he/she is an expert on canine dentistry, ask to see board certification for having received education in this specific field and check to see if that expertise also includes experience with toy breeds. 

*If the bite is a wry mouth, that is considered a “severe” problem and all the baby teeth on that side need to be pulled – even the back teeth.  In slight under or over bites, remove only the front teeth and certainly remove the baby canines if they are binding any incorrect bite because they don’t normally come out on their own (if they come out at all) till 9 months of age.  If the over or under bite is severe (quite a wide gap), then remove all the teeth in the appropriate jaw. 

**If the bite is almost horizontal or “parrot bite,” you may have a depletion (leeching) of the calcium from the bones (particularly noticeable in the extremities and teeth) going on in your puppy.  Feeding a balance (I stress BALANCE) of calcium/phosphorus and getting the baby teeth out (all of them because this is a severe condition) will correct that bite if the dog had a correct bite at 8 weeks (young puppy).  I give OsteoForm from ages 3 - 4 months to 9 months or longer and it is especially necessary in puppies who have big growth spurts.   

I pass this information on as what I have learned the hard way and it has taken me years to learn it through trial and error (way too many errors) so that you will not have to learn the hard way as I have and you will save many wonderful puppies that would have been lost as stars in the show ring. 


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