Symptoms of Hypoglycemia in Dogs

Hypoglycemia is a condition also known as low blood sugar. The normal blood sugar in dogs is between 80 and 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of blood. When the values fall below the normal values, the dog will suffer from hypoglycemia. The symptoms of hypoglycemia include shaking, seizures or even coma. It's important to recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar, so as to be able to administer glucose or sugar and prevent any complications.

Causes of Low Blood Sugar in Dogs

A low concentration of glucose in the blood may be caused by stress, low temperatures, poor nutrition or intestinal parasites that deprive the dog of the essential nutrients. Other less common causes include Addison's disease, tumors (especially those located on the pancreas), hormonal imbalances or fasting before strenuous activities.

Juvenile hypoglycemia can occur in puppies less than 3 months of age, and some dog breeds are more affected. Young puppies don't have the ability to properly regulate their blood sugar and are also in need of glucose.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

The symptoms of low blood sugar will vary according to the severity of the glucose drop and the underlying cause. The most common signs of hypoglycemia include:

  • Lack of appetite, which is due to a general weakness and the lack of energy
  • Lethargy and sleepiness
  • Shaking, which may be due to hypothermia; a dog that has a low glucose level will also have difficulty adjusting his body temperature and will be cold
  • Twitching muscles
  • Dilated pupils
  • Behavioral changes; an active dog will suddenly become lethargic and uninterested
  • Slow movements; the dog may have difficulty moving and a lack of coordination

If the hypoglycemia is severe, the dog may suffer from seizures, temporary blindness and even coma.

Diagnosing Hypoglycemia

A diagnosis is needed to determine the cause of the low blood sugar and possibly prevent it in the future. The vet will perform a physical examination and will measure the blood glucose, and may run some other blood and urine tests.

Treating Hypoglycemia

If you notice any symptoms of low blood sugar, you should immediately administer 1 tbsp of honey or maple syrup to your pet. Make sure the pet ingests the honey or the syrup. If you place the honey under the dog's tongue or rub it on his gums, the sugar will get into the blood flow even faster. You should administer 1 tbsp of honey or syrup once every 6 hours, until the dog is stable. You should also visit the vet to determine the underlying cause and get suitable treatment.

In cases of severe hypoglycemia when the dog has seizures, the vet may also administer intravenous injections with glucose.

Your dog should live in a warm environment and when younger, you should provide extra blankets to prevent juvenile hypoglycemia. Get all the needed vaccinations and administer preventive de-wormers. Feed your dog quality food and according to the vet's guidelines. Feed him several times per day when he's a puppy and once or twice per day after he becomes an adult.