If your new puppy weighs four pounds or less, one important health condition to be aware of is Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, can be triggered by stress, over excitement, or missing a meal. While treatable, it is important to know what to look for and to act quickly if you see any of the signs of Hypoglycemia in your pup.
Occurring mostly in toy breeds between six and 16 weeks of age, the syndrome is triggered by stressors like travel, introductions to new or large numbers of people, too much play or attention, a change in environment, or simply the overall adjustment into a new home.
Symptoms include (but are not limited to) a decrease in energy, loss of appetite, listlessness, overly cold or hot body temperature, vomiting and diarrhea. Your puppy may show one or more of these symptoms if his blood sugar is dropping. Remember, your puppy's blood sugar level is his main energy source, and if it gets too low, medical intervention may be necessary.
Luckily, there are easy ways to prevent hypoglycemic attacks and reoccurring attacks. For the first two weeks, it's your crucial responsibility to make sure your puppy is eating regular, frequent meals throughout the day. Have dry food available at all times and feed him canned food at least two times a day.
A sugar supplement can also help prevent or decrease the severity of an already-occurring hypoglycemic attack. Nutri-Cal by Vetoquinol is a high-calorie flavored gel ideal for boosting your puppy's blood sugar, especially if he is a finicky eater. For dogs eating properly, give 1.5 teaspoons of Nutri-Cal per 10 pounds of the dog's body weight daily. For dogs not eating well, give one tablespoon of Nutri-Cal per 10 pounds of dog's body weight daily. Most puppies will lick the supplement off your finger, but you may also put a drop directly on the puppy's tongue or roof of mouth. You should never force your puppy to swallow pills or supplements, nor should you push the supplement too far back in the mouth.
Nutri-Cal can be purchased from your local pet store or online and should be part of your preparation tool kit prior to bringing puppy home. In the event you're unable to get some in time, a fine temporary alternative is honey or Karo syrup in the interim. Adding Pedialyte to your dog's water (one teaspoon of Pedialyte per pint of water) is also a good idea to prevent dehydration, which can worsen the symptoms of Hypoglycemia.
Should your puppy show the symptoms listed above or less common symptoms like weakness, foaming around the mouth, dry tacky gums, staggering gait, fatigue, tremors or muscular weakness, start the following at-home treatment right away: If puppy is awake and able to swallow, administer the Nutri-Cal. Once your puppy seems more alert, provide a small amount of water. Continue to administer Nutri-Cal and water every 30 minutes until your puppy becomes more alert and starts to move about. If there is no response within 30 minutes, bring your pup to an emergency vet clinic.
Lastly, to maintain a calm household and keep stress levels low, take appropriate precautions such as limiting your puppy's playtime to controlled intervals, having a minimal amount of people in the home, not leaving the puppy alone and keeping your puppy crated or gated within a small space until they get used to their larger surroundings and/or are house-trained.