While all pugs love a good meal, not all of them love to exercise, and this breed can easily develop some extra junk in the trunk. Pug puppies, like other toy breeds, can fall victim to hypoglycemia—low levels of blood sugar, sometimes related to diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms
Toy breeds like pugs are more likely to show signs of hypoglycemia when they're puppies, so it's good to know the signs of dangerously low blood sugar. For example, your pug may seem listless or lethargic instead of playful and happy. His muscles may seem weak and his footing unsure, and he may even appear to be disoriented. If he froths at his mouth or has a seizure, those can also be signs of a hypoglycemic attack.
Causes of Hypoglycemia
Toy breeds have delicate constitutions, and they are more susceptible to hypoglycemia. Not eating enough, or burning too much energy from play, exercise or trying to stay warm in a cold environment can lead to hypoglycemia. It can also happen as a result of severe stress. Older pugs may become hypoglycemic as a result of diabetes, which may develop because of obesity.
Watching Your Weight
Unhealthy weight and obesity can lead to diabetes, and pugs are a breed at risk. As they grow older, pugs can overeat and become lethargic, spending much of the day napping or sitting in an owner's lap. If your pug develops diabetes, he's more likely to suffer from hypoglycemia as well.
The Puppy Period
Between 6 and 12 weeks of age is when your pug is at greatest risk of developing hypoglycemia—especially stress-related hypoglycemia. If you can, avoid putting him in potentially stressful situations during this period. Make sure that he is always warm enough, that he eats as much as he should and that his exercise sessions aren't too long or rigorous. If you suspect that your pug has had a hypoglycemic attack, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Dangers and Treatments
Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs in episodes, which may include the acute attacks during which your pug shows the signs and symptoms. If his hypoglycemic attack is severe enough that he drops to the floor and seizes, whether it happens once for a prolonged period or several times over the course of his life, it can cause permanent brain damage. Whether your pug has one attack or they repeat, he needs to see a vet. The vet may recommend something as simple as a change to his diet and exercise routine, but hypoglycemia may also be symptomatic of a larger problem, like an infection or imbalanced hormones.
If your pug suffers a hypoglycemic attack, which may include some or all of the symptoms described here, he needs immediate treatment. If he is awake, use a syringe to feed him sugar water. Alternatively, rub honey or glucose paste on his gums—he should stabilize within half an hour. If he is unconscious, just rub the honey or glucose paste on his gums. A pug that is unconscious or not showing signs of improvement after half an hour needs to see a vet immediately for emergency treatment.
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.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.