Hypoglycemia in dogs

Is Your Dog In Danger Of Hypoglycemia?

Disclaimer: Our content is always reviewed and approved by a professional veterinarian. However, we recommend always reaching out to your dog's vet for any advice regarding your pup.

Is your dog at risk of hypoglycemia?

This is a question that may not have occurred to you before, but it’s important to know.

Hypoglycemia has many causes, but the most common one is insulin overdose. This means that diabetic dogs are at a greater risk for hypoglycemia than other dogs.

We’ll be diving into this dangerous condition and providing you with all the information you need to help your dog if he is suffering from hypoglycemia.

Let’s go!

The Dangers of Hypoglycemia

First things first: What is hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia essentially means low blood sugar. It can happen when the levels of blood sugar in your dog’s body drop below normal values.

The severity of the condition depends on how low the blood sugar levels are.

This can happen for many reasons, and we’ll touch on that in a bit, but first, you need to understand just how dangerous this condition is.

Did you know that if left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and even death?

Unfortunately, this is very true…

So, What Are The Symptoms of Hypoglycemia?

Some common signs that your dog is suffering from hypoglycemia are lethargy or reluctance to move, and in more extreme cases, collapse or seizures.

But let’s take a look at some more symptoms of this condition:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Trembling
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Increased thirst or/and urination
  • Slow response time
  • Irregular heart rate or breathing
  • Muscle spasms
  • Overall unusual behavior

You may only notice a few of these symptoms at first, but the condition worsens the longer it’s left untreated. If you don’t act quickly, you might find your dog collapsing or suffering from seizures.

What Causes Hypoglycemia?

Dogs experience hypoglycemia when their blood sugar levels have been lowered for some reason.

This could happen for many reasons, from an inappropriate diet to conditions like diabetes (provided the dog is insulin-dependent).

Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia in dogs:

  • Malnutrition or starvation
  • Overdosing of insulin
  • Excessive exercise
  • Long periods in-between meals
  • Ingestion of artificial sweeteners (like xylitol)
  • Liver cancer
  • Overuse of glucose during pregnancy
  • Pancreatic tumor

These are only a few examples.

What’s important is knowing how to recognize the signs of hypoglycemia and how to act when you think your dog might be suffering from it!

If your dog has diabetes and is skipping meals, insulin overdose is a real issue and can quickly lead to hypoglycemia. Be very aware of this issue if your furry friend suffers from diabetes.

What To Do If Your Dog Has Hypoglycemia

If you notice any of the symptoms of hypoglycemia and your dog is diabetic, the first thing to do is to feed him honey – put it directly in your pup’s mouth. The sugar in the honey will instantly help to raise blood sugar levels. 

Don’t take your dog to the vet right away because for a dog suffering from hypoglycemia, the added stress of going to the vet might make things much worse.

Instead, if you can, call your vet, and ask what you should do and if it’s safe or not to bring your dog in.

Once at the clinic, the vet will be able to quickly diagnose the condition by assessing your pup’s blood glucose levels. This can be done with a glucometer and a drop of blood.

This is, essentially, how hypoglycemia is diagnosed. After that, depending on what the vet suspects might be the cause for the condition, more complex tests can be required.

How Hypoglycemia is Treated

Treating hypoglycemia is done in two phases.

Phase 1

First, you deal with the problem in front of you: low blood sugar levels.

The initial treatment is focused on raising your dog’s blood sugar levels. How this is done will depend on the severity of the hypoglycemia.

If the condition is less severe, you can simply rub some glucose on your dog’s gums (the amount of glucose and how many times it needs to be administered will be dictated by your vet).

If the blood sugar levels are dangerously low, your pup might need an IV, so he might need to stay at the vet for a while while he undergoes this initial treatment.

Phase 2

Once the blood sugar levels are back up, it’s time to address the issue that caused them to drop in the first place.

This treatment will, of course, depend on what that issue is. As we saw, there could be many reasons behind your pup’s hypoglycemia.

Recovering From Hypoglycemia

Your dog might recover from hypoglycemia moderately fast. The same can’t be said for the underlying cause of this condition. Depending on what it is, it may be more difficult or take longer to treat.

Anyway, once your pup is back home and his blood sugar levels are back to normal, you need to monitor him and try to prevent the incident from happening again.

If the problem was too much time between meals, cut back on that time and feed your pup more frequently. If it was malnutrition, get your vet to make you an appropriate diet plan for your furry friend.

Your vet is your best friend here, so get his advice on what to do and how you can care for your pup in the best way possible.

Closing Thoughts

Hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition, and as an owner, you need to be aware of the symptoms so you can act fast.

Take special caution if your dog is diabetic because they are more at risk for developing this condition.

The key is talking to your dog’s vet as soon as you detect something.

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