Effects of Hypoglycemia on Your Dog

Low blood sugar can affect our dogs and is more common than we think. Small pets are most often affected. Just as with humans that are diabetic, a small dog may need a little sugar to raise the blood sugar and avoid lethargic results.

Hypoglycemia is the result of low blood sugar and can affect our dogs. I can tell you firsthand that although older and larger dogs rarely get hypoglycemia, small dogs are more susceptible. I have a small Chihuahua who was affected with low blood sugar as a puppy. Some dogs can also get the condition due to an illness such as Liver Disease.

Some of the causes of hypoglycemia are stress, cold, malnutrition, infection and intestinal parasites. The most common cause is an abnormal function of the hormones that regulate blood sugar or the inability of the body to store proper amounts of glucose, a tumor of the pancreas that produces excess insulin, liver disease, overwhelming infection, an overdose of insulin used to treat diabetes, and Addison's disease which is a deficiency in hormones produced by the adrenal glands.

There are certain tests performed to determine any underlying causes of hypoglycemia. The brain is completely dependent upon glucose to function, and the liver is responsible for manufacturing glucose. The glucose is then stored in a usable form, for release into the blood stream as needed. These tests will show the results of blood proteins, liver enzymes, kidney function, electrolytes, cholesterol, muscle enzymes and glucose. Liver disease may cause an increase in some liver enzymes. Chronic liver disease may cause a decrease in glucose, cholesterol, albumin and urea.

The first step is a thorough examination plus a complete medical history. Diagnosis for Hypoglycemia, per the Vetinfo.com, involved blood tests and analysis which measures the red blood cells, white blood cells, and the platelets. The results of the tests indicate how well your dog's organs are functioning and other possible underlying conditions that may be causing your dog's hypoglycemia, such as liver disease, a common cause of hyperglycemia in older dogs. Other tests may be a serum biochemistry panel test to analyze the chemical composition of blood serum, which indicates how well particular organ systems are functioning, among other serum tests. He may also do a urinalysis, fecal test, bile exam, x-rays and more. Your veterinarian needs the results of all of the tests in order to effectively treat your dog's hypoglycemia.

Treatment involves getting the glucose level at the appropriate level, per the advice of your veterinarian. Hypoglycemia and liver disease can both be treated and controlled through dietary adjustments such as proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats and other nutrients. Another important fact is to feed your dog, frequently, a high quality food to keep glucose at the correct levels. Treatment may sometimes involve a placement of an intravenous catheter and administering an electrolyte salt solution that also contains dextrose. Glucose home tests can be done to keep track of your dog's sugar levels. If you notice your dog getting weak and/or passing out, you may want to rub a small amount of Karo Syrup on the gums to stabilize the glucose. Of course, treatment and prognosis depends on the severity of the hypoglycemia and the underlying causes. Discuss all options with your veterinarian so that you know how to care for your dog at home.

If you have a small or toy breed of dog such as I do, take precautions in preventing the onset of hypoglycemia and any of the underlying causes. Adding a drop of honey or Karo syrup to his food once a week can keep his glucose level from dropping. However, whether you have a small or large dog, providing a nutritional balanced diet, regular vet visits with recommended care and vaccinations will keep your dog in tip top shape. If you have concerns about hypoglycemia in your dog due to his size and/or breeding and health issues, be sure to discuss your anxieties with your veterinarian.