Hypoglycemia In Dogs

When dogs develop a condition known as hypoglycemia, it means their blood sugar levels have become critically and dangerously low. Very often this happens when dogs suffer from diabetes and have been given too much insulin. Glucose is the body's main source of energy so when this gets too low, dogs have extremely low levels of energy which could even result in them losing consciousness and passing out.

What Causes Hypoglycemia?

A dog can suffer low levels of sugar in their blood for reasons other than suffering from diabetes. However, it is not a primary health disorder, but rather a secondary condition that develops because of some other underlying health issue. A dog's brain needs to receive glucose for it to function correctly and the reason for this is that the brain is unable to store or create glucose itself. When the levels fall dangerously low, this is when things start to go wrong and they develop hypoglycemia. It is a condition that requires immediate veterinary intervention because if left for too long, it can prove fatal.

Signs to Watch Out For

When a dog starts developing hypoglycemia, they show definite signs of there being something wrong with them. The symptoms to watch out for include the following:

  • A lack of appetite leading to dogs developing anorexia
  • An increase in appetite
  • Unstable on their feet, dogs have blurred vision
  • Dogs appear confused and disoriented
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Very occasionally a dog will suffer a seizure
  • Restlessness/anxiety
  • Shivering and tremors
  • Palpitations - heart

The problem is the symptoms above are not just specific to hypoglycemia which means a dog could be suffering from some other health disorder which is why it's so important for tests to be carried out as soon as possible so a correct diagnosis can be established followed by an appropriate treatment.

Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to see a dog's full medical history and then carry out a thorough physical examination which would include testing a dog's blood sugar level. However, if the condition goes unnoticed until a dog collapses, it's essential that owners get the right sort of advice on how to help their pets from a qualified vet even if this means following their instructions over the telephone. A vet would then need to do a home visit to stabilise a dog's condition before they are taken to the surgery.

Other tests a vet would need to carry out might include the following once a dog's condition has been stabilised:

  • A complete blood profile
  • A chemical blood profile
  • A complete blood count
  • A urinalysis

Treating the Condition

When it comes to treating hypoglycemia in dogs, the first thing a vet would need to do is raise their blood sugar levels as a matter of urgency after which time, the vet would need to treat the underlying cause. However, any initial treatment would depend on the symptoms a dog is showing. If caught early enough, by giving sugar or glucose to a dog might be enough to get their blood sugar levels up again. If the symptoms are more severed and a dog is not able to take any sugar by mouth, they would need to be given glucose by injection or intravenously as a matter of urgency or it could prove fatal.

Living with a Dog with Recurring Hypoglycemia

Dogs that suffer from hypoglycemia on a recurrent basis, need to be fed a careful diet to help reduce the risk of the condition recurring. It's extremely important that owners be prepared for when a dog develops the condition bearing in mind that time is of the essence when it comes to treating a dog with hypoglycemia because it can be a life-threatening disorder if not caught early enough.


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