Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can happen to dogs as well as humans. The effects can be scary. Learn how to spot the signs of hypoglycemia and what to do if your dog’s blood sugar is low.
According to the Canadian Veterinary Journal, the signs of hypoglycemia can vary from dog to dog. However, the most common clinical signs of hypoglycemia in dogs are as follows.1
- Altered behavior
- Having seizures
- Syncope (fainting)
- Muscle twitching or tremors
- Refusing to exercise
- Impaired coordination
- Impaired vision
Dogs can also experience hypoglycemia unawareness. In other words, if a dog has low blood sugar episodes often, they might appear completely normal- even when their blood sugar is low.
If you think your dog’s blood sugar is low, the goal is to adjust your dog’s blood glucose levels as quickly as possible. Studies show that if your dog is having a serious hypoglycemic episode involving seizures, you may be able to rub corn syrup, fruit juice, or honey on your dog’s gums once the seizures have stopped.2 Next, VetStreet recommends giving your dog a meal of his or her normal food if your dog is eating.3
If you know your dog is diabetic, or prone to low blood sugar, ask your vet ahead of time what to do.
The next step for is to immediately visit your vet. Pet Health Network explains that your vet might treat the low blood sugar using oral or IV glucose supplements.4 Your vet may also perform blood tests, electrolyte tests, urine tests, and any other testing needed to determine why your dog’s blood sugar is low.
Hypoglycemia is not a disease — it’s a symptom. If your dog experiences a low blood sugar episode, it’s important to dig deeper and find the root cause so you can prevent it from happening again.
According to VCA Animal Hospital, your dog’s hypoglycemia could be caused by several other health issues. These issues might include.5
- Severe liver disease
- Congenital portosystemic liver shunts in puppies
- Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease)
- Severe bacterial infection (sepsis)
- Poor nutrition in toy breed puppies
- Extreme fatigue (seen in hunting dogs and high-performing sport dogs)
- Over-treatment (too much insulin) of diabetes mellitus
- Some types of tumors, especially insulinoma (a tumor of the pancreas)
- Xylitol toxicity from eating certain sugar free foods (gum, candies, peanut butter)
Low blood sugar can be especially dangerous in puppies and toy breeds. Puppies less than three months of age may experience juvenile hypoglycemia.6 Some breeds are also at a higher risk for hypoglycemia. They may experience scary symptoms like disorientation, tremors, or falling into a coma.
Your veterinarian is the best person to discuss hypoglycemia prevention strategies for dog. He or she will help make sure your dog’s underlying health conditions are controlled and managed as well as possible.
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