Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia in dogs is a condition that can affect any breed but most commonly strikes small breeds. Knowing how to spot and treat this condition can help keep your dogs healthy!
What is Low Blood Sugar or Hypoglycemia in Dogs
Hypoglycemia in dogs occurs when there is a drop in blood sugar levels. Sugar in the blood is regulated by the pancreas through insulin production. In some cases, low blood sugar occurs when not much sugar is ingested at a time, and the cells then remove as much sugar from the blood for use as energy as they can. When there is not enough left, the cells cannot function properly. In cases of diabetes or other pancreatic issues, there may be a problem with insulin production or uptake, a hormone that allows the cells and body to regulate the amount of sugar brought into the blood and cells.
Signs of low blood sugar in pets often include extreme lethargy and tiredness and a lack of interest in doing any activity. Dogs may also begin to look for food if possible to bring their levels up. Or they may eat without seeming to improve their energy levels. Dogs with underlying pancreatic issues may also experience increased thirst or urination as their bodies try to regulate the hormones needed. In severe cases, giving too much insulin may trigger hypoglycemia, and prolonged hypoglycemia may result in a seizure.
Small breed dogs are very prone to hypoglycemia as they require a large amount of energy, sometimes more than they can intake just eating one or two meals a day. Very small dogs, such as young puppies or teacup breeds, tend to be the most affected by this.
Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Hypoglycemia
In small dogs (and large dogs that may be experiencing the issue), hypoglycemia can most easily be prevented by feeding smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Very small puppies or teacup breeds may require up to 5 small meals throughout the day to maintain levels versus the usual 1-2 daily for most adult dogs. This smaller meal routine helps by supplying a constant stream of energy and nutrition throughout the day and reduces the need to overeat meals.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Hypoglycemia
If you suspect that your puppy or dog has hypoglycemia and there is no underlying health issue, it means your dog needs a simple boost of a sugar water solution to get him active again. Dissolving some sugar into water and then feeding with a syringe or eyedropper can help give very small dogs an energy boost that will allow them to perk back up, eat a meal, and resume normal activity. Rubbing corn syrup or sugar directly on the gums can also help. The added water can also help relieve some minor dehydration which can cause similar symptoms. If symptoms do not improve within 30 minutes, however, it could indicate a more serious emergency and veterinary care should be sought.
Rubbing corn syrup or sugar directly on the gums can also help. The water can also help relieve some minor dehydration, which can cause similar symptoms. If symptoms do not improve within 30 minutes, however, it could indicate a more serious emergency and veterinary care should be sought.
If the hypoglycemia symptoms are frequent or caused due to an underlying illness, making an appointment with a local veterinarian is recommended. Your vet can perform some tests, such as blood work or X-rays, in addition to a physical exam to help determine if there is a cause behind the episodes that may need further treatment. Your vet may also recommend increasing your dog’s meal frequency to help combat episodes or switch to a higher energy, more calorie dense food to provide enough nutrition. In the case of pancreatic issues, treatment with insulin or other medications may be beneficial.
Natural Remedies For Treating Low Blood Sugar
The best natural remedy for treating hypoglycemia is to feed a balanced diet to your furry friend that provides enough proteins, fats, and energy for your dog’s activity level. Highly active dogs and growing puppies will need more of these nutrients to address their higher energy needs. By feeding these foods and smaller meals more often, you can keep blood sugar levels regulated without extra care.
In acute cases, sugar water or corn syrup can help. If symptoms continue, working with a vet or holistic veterinarian can provide some more natural remedies for treating the underlying cause of hypoglycemia.