Toy Breed Hypoglycemia
Some toy breeds (such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Toy Poodles and Pomeranian) are prone to hypoglycemia due to a metabolic disorder. If you have a toy breed dog, it is better to feed her 3 small meals a day to avoid hypoglycemia.
Puppies, especially toy breed puppies less than 5 months of age, are predisposed to developing hypoglycemia because they are less able to store and mobilize glucose the way that adult dogs do. Also, toy breed puppies have more brain mass per body weight compared to other breeds and therefore need more glucose for brain function.
In puppies, certain situations can bring on a hypoglycemic attack. For example, when the puppy misses a meal, becomes chilled, or is suffering from exhaustion, or anxiety.
Sometimes when a puppy gets older, she will outgrow this condition since canine hypoglycemia mostly affects puppies 5 to 16 weeks of age. However, if the dog is high strung, or has a lot of nervous energy, she has to be kept in a calm state as much as possible.
First Aid for Dogs with Hypoglycemia
If your dog is prone to hypoglycemia, you should always be prepared to deal with the onset of the condition.
As mentioned above, hypoglycemia is very dangerous and can kill if left without treatment, so immediately veterinary treatment is essential. However, before getting to the vet there are several things that you can do to prevent the condition from deteriorating:
The first thing to do is to get the blood glucose back to a safe level. This can be done by giving your dog a source of sugar such as syrup, honey, or jam by mouth.
Always have corn or maple syrup available. Give one teaspoon of syrup to a small dog, and one tablespoon of syrup to a large dog.
If your dog is already unconscious, rub the syrup on the gums and under the tongue.
Keep your dog warm because low blood sugar will cause hypothermia.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia in Dogs
Dogs with extremely low blood glucose usually show the following signs:
Lethargy and weakness
Confusion and disorientation
Restlessness and agitation
IIn severe cases, the dog may become unconscious and sometimes die.
The severity of the symptoms depends on the level of the blood glucose and how fast the blood glucose level drops. If left untreated, a dog showing mild symptoms of hypoglycemia can deteriorate rapidly. Immediate veterinary treatment is essential - dogs suffering from prolonged hypoglycemia or repeated occurrences of the condition can have permanent damage to their brains.
Coccidiosis is an intestinal track disease in animals caused by coccidian infection, which is caused by parasitic protozoon. This disease spreads from one animal to the next by contact with infected feces or ingestion of infected tissue. Diarrhea, which may become bloody in severe cases, is the primary symptom. Most animals infected with coccidian are asymptomatic; however, young or immune-compromised animals may suffer severe symptoms and my die.
While coccidian organisms can infect a wide variety of animals, including humans, birds, and livestock, they are usually species specific. One well-known exception is toxoplasmosis caused by Toxoplasma gondii. People often first encounter coccidian when they acquire a young puppy or kitten that is infected. The infectious organisms are canine/feline-specific and are not contagious to humans.
Young puppies are often infected with coccidian and often develop active Coccidiosis, even puppies obtained from diligent professional breeders. Infected puppies almost always have received the parasite from their mother’s feces. Typically, healthy adult animals shedding the parasite’s oocytes in their feces will be asymptomatic because of their developed immune systems. However, under-developed immune systems make puppies more susceptible. Further, stressors, such as new owners, travel, weather changes, and unsanitary conditions are believed to activate infections in susceptible animals.
Symptoms in young dogs are universal: at some point around 2-3 months of age, an infected dog develops persistently loose stools. This diarrhea proceeds to stool containing liquid, thick mucus, and light colored fecal matter. As the infection progresses, spots of blood may become apparent in the stool, and sudden bowel movements may surprise both dog and owner. Other symptoms may include poor appetite, vomiting, and dehydration. In some cases badly infected pups die. Coccidia infection is so common that any pup under 4 months old with these symptoms can almost surely be assumed to have Coccidiosis.
Fortunately, the treatment is inexpensive, extremely effective, and routine. A veterinarian can easily diagnose this disease under a low-powered microscope. One of many easily administered and inexpensive drugs will be prescribed and, in the course of just a few days, an infection will be eliminated or perhaps reduced to such a level that the dog’s immune system can make its own progress against the infection. Even when an infection has progressed sufficiently that blood is present in the feces, permanent damage to the gastrointestinal system is rare, and the dog will most likely make a complete recovery without long-lasting negative effects.
Coccidiosis and Hypoglycemia are not covered by any Heath Guarantee as are unpredictable. They are not a genetic or preventable disease (e.g., Distemper, Parvovirus, etc.). A veterinary supplied Heath Certificate is also not a guarantee the puppy will not develop either of these issues, since both are most likely to develop after the puppy arrives at their new home.
Other Possible Issues
Open Fontanel: Many Chihuahuas, especially the larger apple-head types, will have an open fontanel (AKA molera), which is on the top of their scull. Most of these will close to a very small size by adulthood, and some will close completely. However, while your dog is young it’s very important to know that any sudden hit to their head can cause sudden death. This is why it's important not to leave your puppy unattended around children, larger dogs, or on furniture that is more than a few inches off the ground. Your chi can also break its legs very easily if left on high objects. They don't realize how far down it is and will try to jump if you don't keep your hands on them. The molera should not be considered a flaw, as stated in the AKC standard. It is more common than not in show type Chihuahuas.
Luxating Patellas- Patellar luxation (loose or dislocated knees) can sometimes be detected at a young age. Due to the Chihuahua’s diminutive size, this is another issue that is somewhat hard to totally stay away from, especially in the teeny tiny babies because their bones are so small and fragile. However, slight luxation may never cause your dog any problems; however, severe luxation can sometimes require surgery. You can ask your vet what preventatives to take, if he/she diagnoses your puppy with luxating patellas. A dog should never be allowed to become obese, as this can certainly up the risk for surgery and other issues later in life. If your puppy has luxating patellas, they will probably give you a rating scale for each patella that will be 1-4 (1 being the slightest and 4 being the most severe). You can read more information on patella luxation here.