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Hypoglycemia in Chihuahuas

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Hypoglycemia in ChihuahuasAll pet owners need to know the basics of animal care in order to ensure a healthy life for their pets and themselves. One of the common problems owners of toy breed dogs need to know about is hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia is the scientific term that means “low blood sugar“. You are probably aware of this phenomenon in people with diabetes and the condition is quite similar in dogs. Low blood sugar levels can be quite dangerous in dogs because glucose (sugar) is needed by the brain to operate properly. When glucose levels drop too low, serious consequences can follow.

In dogs, hypoglycemia is especially an issue for toy breeds like the Chihuahua. This is because Chihuahuas have been bred to be small, so they have a naturally low body mass. The small body mass means that they cannot store sugar properly, there is simply not enough body fat. So, a responsible dog owner needs to be aware of the serious risk of hypoglycemia in these small breeds.

Beyond the natural tendencies to hypoglycemia, there are several, preventable causes. The modern dog food diet, like much of the modern diet for people, tends to be high in grains. Grains get converted by the body into sugar. So, a diet high in grains means the body is working overtime trying to store sugar. This leads to the body crashing afterward because of the high sugar levels and greater hunger. This creates a vicious cycle where the body is simply unable to regulate a steady level of glucose. The ultimate result of this is obesity.

Hypoglycemia in dogs

Malnourishment can also cause hypoglycemia. For a small breed like the Chihuahua, even missing one or two meals can cause low blood sugar levels. Again, this is because they have such a small body mass already. They need a consistent and steady diet to maintain healthy levels of sugar.

Other Causes of Hypoglycemia in Chihuahuas

While young chihuahuas can experience low blood sugar from not eating, there are many causes of low blood sugar in all dogs. 

Here is a list of potential causes of hypoglycemia:

  • Toxicity – xylitol products are the most commonly implicated toxins that cause low blood sugar. Xylitol can be found in a variety of human products such as gum, toothpaste, and even peanut butter. 
  • Liver disease – the liver is responsible for mobilizing stored glucose from the body’s natural reserve. This is impaired when the liver is damaged and blood sugar levels can begin to drop.
  • Cancer – Insulinoma or cancer of the pancreas can cause too much insulin to be released, leading to low blood sugar. Other cancers like hepatocellular carcinomas and mammary gland adenocarcinoma can also cause dangerously low blood sugar levels
  • Severe infections – severe systemic infections can deplete the body’s reserves of blood sugar and cause levels to drop quickly. 
  • Insulin overdose – diabetic patients can become hypoglycemic quickly if insulin is overdosed or not administered with a proper meal. 
  • Hormonal disease – diseases of the pituitary or adrenals glands can lead to the body being unable to regulate blood sugar appropriately 

To know whether your dog is suffering from low blood sugar, there are a few things you should look out for. If you notice your dog is weak, having trouble walking, or experiencing dizziness, this might be a sign of hypoglycemia. In addition to this, look for signs of unusual drowsiness, unresponsiveness, or tiredness. Chihuahuas are a naturally active breed, so any changes in mood like this should raise some red flags. In serious cases, dogs suffering from low blood sugar might experience convulsions, seizures, comas, or paralysis.

If your dog experiences these serious signs of hypoglycemia, get them to a vet immediately. In less severe cases, begin by giving your dog a small dose of sugar with honey or corn syrup. This can easily be done with an eye-dropper or by rubbing the honey on his or her gums. Slowly give them a bit more and if their condition does not improve within an hour, contact your vet.

Low Blood Sugar in Chihuahuas

Otherwise, the best way to avoid hypoglycemia is preventative care. Dogs should always have access to fresh, clean water. Diets should consist of high-quality nutrients. Small dogs need to eat smaller meals throughout the day-especially puppies. Consult your vet on the exact amounts and times.

With some simple care, low blood sugar can easily be avoided and you and your dog can have a lasting, long relationship!

Click to find about other chihuahua health problems.

Cathy signature Chi

woman kneeling in front of a dog outside in snow

Paula Simons


This article has been reviewed, fact-checked, and approved by Dr. Paula Simons DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.

David L Payne Thompson

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

I'm looking for a Chihuahua a puppy or a young one I already have one who needs a Play mate female if possible thanks David Thompson 1864-865-1155


Thursday 4th of February 2021

I just lost my chihuahua Monday evening! He went through a small part of last year not feeling well due to his teeth but we got him to the vet and on antibiotics and pain meds until we could get all the money we needed to get his teeth pulled. After getting the medication into his system he was back to his old silly self jumping forward ... Sunday he was having issues like barely moving and not eating on his own. Once he got some food in his system by being hand fed he snapped out of it. Monday morning before he passed away, he was eating drinking and walking on his own. When my son got home around 5pm he found him on the floor with no heart beat, nothing :( ... My question is does it sound like he had low blood sugar?? We didn't have the money to take him to the vets on Sunday or we would of. He was my baby and I feel so guilty he passed away ... :( Please no judgements from anyone ... We are all struggling right now.

lorie bartchard

Friday 23rd of July 2021

@Cathy, When they pull teeth on dogs or humans they're is a great possibility of getting a blood clot, perhaps your pup had one and it traveled to its heart.


Thursday 4th of February 2021

Of course no judgements Robin. Getting teeth pulled can cost thousands of dollars and most of us would be in the same situation. It does sound like low blood sugar but without an autopsy you will never know for sure. I'm so sorry you lost your precious fur baby.


Monday 28th of December 2020

My 5 year old chichi has a lump on the bottom below her belly on her back leg please I need help to finding out what is happening to my baby girl I feel so sorry for her an I don't know what to do. I don't like the way this looks and it has gotten bigger over the last 6 months. Please can any one help me .


Monday 28th of December 2020

Is she in pain with it? I would get it checked by a vet. It could be nothing but then again, it could be something serious. My terri-poo had one that turned out to be cancerous. He was fine after it was removed.

Christine Dilks

Monday 7th of September 2020

I have a cross chi with jack russell when we have to go out to shops and leave him at home as we are leaving he goes mental and tries to grab our trouser legs tried everything to calm him down but to no avail any advice please


Tuesday 17th of January 2023

@Cathy,Hi I was just curious about giving CBD to my Chihuahua he's 7years old has type 1 diabetes and has enlarged liver,

Will CBD Effect the blood glucose levels ? I home test Glucose curve Ketones pH sticks


Sunday 4th of September 2022


Great advice! I know my reply is coming 2 years later, but CBD is working wonders for my old girl's anxiety and some physical health issues. My holistic vet is having her take it to help with non-epileptic seizures and so far-so good!

It also works for fireworks!


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

Mine have never been that bad but I always tried to make me leaving a positive thing by giving them a special little treat when I leave. That may not work for yours as he seems to have severe separation anxiety, I'd try some CBD oil for dogs an hour before you need to leave.

Linda Thurber

Saturday 30th of June 2018

I have a 10 yr old tea cup chi. He has hypoglycemia and had his whole life. He will not eat dog food. Ever. I have had to feed him chicken and vegetables and he won't eat rice. It has been a struggle to get him to eat. If he does not his blood sugar will dip and he gets really bad. He has had to go to the vet 3 times. I have learned what works. Protein always gets him started feeling better. Over the years he started to eat a little better and now he is 6.5 pounds. Heavy for a tea cup. He has a luxating patella and I need him to lose wright. I have no idea how. He can barely walk his leg is so bad. If he does not eat the protein he will go into a bad state. Any advice? My vet has not really ever helped me with this.


Saturday 30th of June 2018

That's a tough one Linda and I'm not sure I will be of much help either.

Do you have access to a pool that he can swim in with you? Water exercise is great for those with problems like that because he wouldn't be putting any weight on his leg.

Also for his food, I'd measure out what he needs for the day and portion it out in small amounts (a few bites each) and feed him every few hours to keep his blood sugar level.