Your adorable Yorkie puppy is so sweet, you might nickname her "Sugar." However, like many toy breeds, your Yorkie could suffer from low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. That's because tiny-breed dogs are prone to difficulties that reduce food intake, which in turn causes their blood sugar to drop.
According to VeterinaryPartner.com, the teeth of little breeds such as the Yorkie develop later than those of larger pups, making chewing food more difficult. Their tiny bodies can also experience trouble maintaining the correct temperature. If a Yorkie's body doesn't produce enough sugar, in the form of glucose, to create energy, hypoglycemia develops. In older Yorkies, low blood sugar can result from a poor diet, missed meals, excessive cold or exercise, or stress. Whatever the cause, it's not to be taken lightly.
Hypoglycemia most often affects Yorkie puppies, generally from the age of 5 weeks to 4 months of age. However, it can strike older dogs. Symptoms include drowsiness—especially evident in a young, active pup—muscle weakness, staggering, disorientation, depression and shivering. More severe signs include seizures and collapse. Take your Yorkie to the vet immediately if he displays any of these symptoms. Your dog could die without prompt treatment. In an emergency you can rub corn syrup or cake icing gel on his gums to get sugar quickly into his system.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your vet will run tests to make sure additional issues aren't affecting your Yorkie. Since liver shunt is very common in Yorkie puppies and can cause hypoglycemic episodes, your vet wants to find out if it's the cause. For that, she'll run a blood test for liver function. Liver shunt requires surgery. For hypoglycemia, your vet might give your Yorkie dextrose intravenously. She might also provide you with glucose paste for administration in case of another hypoglycemic event.
If your Yorkie suffers from hypoglycemia, your vet might put him on a strict feeding schedule. Rather than feeding once or twice daily, you might divide your dog's daily ration into four feedings. Your vet will recommend a high-quality food containing lots of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Don't let your Yorkie get tired out with exercise, or too cold. Look on the bright side—you can buy him some attractive winter coats "for medical purposes."
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.