Hypoglycemia is the medical term used to describe abnormally low levels
of blood glucose. Blood
glucose, which is another term for blood sugar, is regulated by
insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by cells that are
called "beta cells", that is part of the endocrine
pancreas. Dogs that
go into hypoglycemia suffer from weakness, they can collapse,
and/or go into seizures.
Some toy breeds suffer from hypoglycemia as a
metabolic disorder. Sometimes in hunting dogs hypoglycemia
occurs at the beginning of the hunting season and is usually the
result of poor conditioning and can also be related to poor
It is imperative that owners of breeds of dog that are susceptible to
attacks be aware of some of the clinical signs of the onset of
an attack of hypoglycemia. These signs can include the dog
becoming noticeably confused, disoriented, becomes drowsy at
unusual times, shivers, and/or staggers about.
In an advanced stage the dog collapses and goes into an
unconscious state. The
entire sequence of clinical signs is not always seen, so close
observation of your pet and knowing when your dog is going into
a distressed state can mean the difference between life and
death of your dog. Immediate
treatment by a veterinarian is imperative, as recurrence of, or
prolonged attacks, can cause permanent damage to the brain.
Sometimes a dog will outgrow this condition since it affects puppies 5
to 16 weeks of age most commonly. However, if the dog is high strung, or has a lot of nervous
energy, the dog will need to be watched carefully, and kept in a
calm state. Some
instances that precipates an attack might be: the puppy being
placed in a new home, or while being shipped.
It may occur if a puppy misses a meal, becomes chilled,
or becomes exhausted from too much play.
What can you do for
your dog if you notice the early signs of hypoglycemia?
The best product to keep on hand is Nutrical, available
from your veterinarian. In an emergency, sugar water, corn
syrup, or even honey will work. A few licks may be all you need
if the dog is still conscious. You should call your veterinarian
as soon as possible. If
your dog becomes unconscious, have someone call your vet, and
get the dog to the vet immediately.
Place the dog on a rigid surface for transport, and have
a rider check to make sure the dog has not inhaled its own
secretions, or has strangled on its tongue.
If you are fortunate enough to have a veterinarian diagnose your dog
with hypoglycemia before any serious attacks occur, have the
veterinarian go over symptoms, first aid for your dog, and any
other emergency procedures that you may need to know.