Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments

A beagle dog rests on the bed after a long walk

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Hypoglycemia in dogs is the condition of having low blood sugar, which results in symptoms that mostly relate to an affected dog’s energy level. It can be caused by underlying conditions or exposure to certain substances. When it becomes severe, it can cause pain, seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death in canines.

Sugar, which takes the form of glucose, provides energy for your dog’s entire body. When the blood sugar level is too low, it will eventually affect the organs and brain function. For that reason, it’s important to consult your veterinarian if you see signs that your dog might be hypoglycemic.

Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for hypoglycemia in dogs.

Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia In Dogs

Basset hound.

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Symptoms of hypoglycemia in dogs usually begin mildly with signs of low energy. However, these can progress to more dangerous symptoms quickly if left untreated. Sometimes symptoms come and go, while other times they are persistent.

If you spot some or all of the following signs that your dog is hypoglycemic, then you should take them to the vet immediately:

  • Lethargy
  • Slow response to stimuli
  • Weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Trembling
  • Irregular heart rate or breathing
  • Paralysis of the hind legs
  • Seizures
  • Blindness
  • Collapse or unconsciousness

Causes Of Hypoglycemia In Dogs

White American bulldog.

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Hypoglycemia in dogs can be caused by a number of underlying conditions or from exposure to certain substances. It results due to glucose being removed from the bloodstream, an inadequate amount of glucose from diet, or low production of glucose from glycogen stores by the liver.

Additionally, any condition that affects glucose levels could result in hypoglycemia.

Here are several known causes of hypoglycemia in dogs:

  • Excessive exercise
  • Poor diet, malnutrition, or starvation
  • Delayed meal time for puppies
  • Overdose of insulin
  • Eating artificial sweeteners
  • Consuming antifreeze
  • Body using too much glucose during pregnancy
  • Portosystemic shunts
  • Addison’s disease
  • Sepsis
  • Inflammation of the liver
  • Pancreatic tumor
  • Certain cancers, especially liver cancer, leukemia, and malignant melanoma

Treatments For Hypoglycemia In Dogs

Brittany spaniel eating its dinner one of its four meals a day whilst still a puppy

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Treatment for hypoglycemia in dogs aims to restore appropriate glucose levels in the blood stream. For dogs who have a hypoglycemic crisis resulting in seizures, a veterinarian might recommend that corn syrup, sugar, fruit juices, or honey be rubbed on the gums, followed up with a small meal once the seizures have stopped.

A veterinarian might continue to feed a dog small meals as they recover. If a hypoglycemic dog is not capable of eating, then the vet may administer intravenous fluid of concentrated dextrose.

Further treatment depends on the cause of the hypoglycemia. If it’s related to exercise or diet, then your veterinarian will prescribe lifestyle changes. They may also advise more frequent meals with high amounts of fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates.

If there is an underlying cause, it must be treated accordingly. Some conditions, such as pancreatic tumors, may require surgery. Others such as Addison’s disease can be managed with medication.

In cases where the hypoglycemia can’t be treated or managed any other way, a veterinarian may prescribe anticonvulsants or steroids.

Having an appropriate diet, especially throughout puppyhood, can help prevent hypoglycemia. Therefore, you should make sure your dog is getting the right nutrition, and discuss diet with your veterinarian.

Does your dog suffer from hypoglycemia? How do you treat it? Let us know in the comments below!