Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is a condition in which the blood glucose level drops below the normal range. This can be triggered by a number of things, including over activity, digestive upset, poor nutrition, not eating (such as when a dog is ill), and intestinal parasites. Other stressful events can also trigger an episode of hypoglycemia as well.
Toy breeds are most susceptible to hypoglycemia due to liver glucose storage/utilization problems. Puppies under three or four months of age are also vulnerable as they are not yet able to regulate their blood sugar.
Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar in Dogs
Symptoms of low blood sugar in a dog include:
- Lack of appetite
- Muscle coordination issues
- Loss of consciousness
Diagnosing Low Blood Sugar in Dogs
Sometimes it can be difficult to diagnose the cause of low blood sugar in a dog. It can be caused by a number of things, including Addison's disease (a disorder of the adrenal glands), liver disease, an insulin-producing tumor, and complications of diabetes.
If your dog has symptoms of low blood sugar, your vet will take a blood sample to test his sugar level. If his sugar is low, your vet will probably take more blood to test for various conditions that might be causing the problem. Your vet may need to do other tests as well, such as an ultrasound of the liver to check for liver disease, in order to make a diagnosis. It may take some time and several different tests for your vet to arrive at the correct diagnosis.
Treating Canine Low Blood Sugar
Medical treatment options will vary based on the exact diagnosis.
However, if your dog is experiencing a severe attack of hyperglycemia, you need to take immediate action. Give him or her something with sugar in it. Good choices include karo syrup, sugar water, honey, or Nutrical.
Nutrical is a supplement that comes in a tube and contains vitamins as well as sugar. If your dog is having a seizure or is unconscious you should not give him food or water, but you can rub karo syrup or Nutrical on his gums. He will absorb the sugar. This can be life-saving in an emergency! Then get your dog to the vet as quickly as possible.
Hypoglycemia in a Dog
Richards, Mike, DVM
Low Blood Sugar in Puppies