From birth to at least 12 weeks, toy breed puppies such as papillons are at high risk of fatal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The risk declines as the puppy grows. To reduce his risk, your papillon puppy should stay with the breeder until he is at least 12 weeks old.
Tiny puppies such as papillons are at risk of potentially fatal low blood sugar episodes during the first weeks of life because they lack the body fat required to store glucose for release as needed. Brains need glucose to function. Stress, such as from weaning or teething, can bring on problems with low blood sugar. Episodes also may occur if the tiny papillon pup is exhausted from play or goes too long without more food. The puppy also needs extra warmth and protection from parasites and fleas. The risk of toy breed hypoglycemia diminishes as the puppy puts on weight.
Signs of low blood sugar in a papillon puppy include onset of listlessness, weakness and trembling. He may have an uncoordinated gait and low body temperature. Not all puppies will exhibit the same symptoms in the same order. The puppy may progress to seizures or lose consciousness if early signs go undetected.
Onset of hypoglycemia is an emergency. Untreated, it can be fatal, but it is generally easily treatable if an episode is caught in the early stages. Because papillon puppies are at considerable risk for low blood sugar, your puppy's veterinarian or breeder may advise you to keep a high-calorie supplement such as Nutri-Cal or a basic source of sugar such as Karo syrup or pancake syrup on hand at all times. Consult with your veterinarian about proper administration of a source of sugar to your puppy in an emergency. Multiple episodes of hypoglycemia, particularly if they are allowed to become severe, may cause brain damage.
Papillon and other toy breed puppies need be fed as many as six small meals a day to prevent the possibility of a hypoglycemic episode. Inspect your puppy’s teeth as they develop, and be certain that the food you give him is soft enough for him to eat easily. Papillons puppies should have constant access to soft, dry food and water at all times. Minimizing stress and giving your baby papillon plenty of time to rest and recuperate after activity will help keep him happy and healthy.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.