How To Recognize And Manage Hypoglycemia In Diabetic Dogs

How To Recognize And Manage Hypoglycemia In Diabetic Dogs

Caring for a diabetic dog requires pet parents to learn more about diabetes, and all of the dangers that come with it.

Most pet parents think that high blood sugar is bad.

But, wait until you learn about what low blood sugar or hypoglycemia can do to a dog.

Here is how to recognize and manage hypoglycemia in diabetic dogs.

What Is Hypoglycemia in Dogs

How To Recognize And Manage Hypoglycemia In Diabetic Dogs

Hypoglycemia is a condition where the blood sugar levels of the dog are too low. Smaller breeds are more prone to hypoglycemia because they do not have adequate places in their bodies to store the sugar and they have high metabolic rates that quickly use up any sugar in their bloodstream.

All of that makes them crash or have hypoglycemic events if they don’t have sugar constantly throughout the day.

A dog has hypoglycemia when their blood sugar levels have dropped below 50 mg/dl (3mmol/L). At this point, their body and brain are deprived of food (glucose) which can lead to a life-threatening condition.

To better understand hypoglycemia in dogs, we have to go back to insulin.

Insulin is a naturally produced hormone in dogs that allows glucose to be absorbed by their muscles.

When glucose is present in the dog’s bloodstream (after eating), the body should produce insulin, or insulin should be injected (for diabetic dogs) to convert glucose to energy.

Injecting too much insulin is often the most common cause of low blood sugar in diabetic dogs.

When a dog has hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, their bodies and brains are actually starving of a main source of fuel (glucose).

When I said injecting too much insulin leads to hypoglycemia, let me explain it in detail.

You might be giving the exact same dose, but your diabetic dog didn’t eat their breakfast.

At this point, there is more insulin in their bloodstream than there is glucose.

This will lead to low blood sugar.

What Causes Hypoglycemia in Diabetic Dogs?

Hypoglycemia is caused when the diabetic dog is exposed to a large dose of insulin injection, decreased food consumption, and increased exercise.

High dose of insulin

When a diabetic dog receives a high dose of insulin, this automatically leads to hypoglycemia.

Too much insulin in their body can decrease their glucose levels to a dangerously low level.

This is why it is important to understand the insulin requirements of diabetic dogs and act accordingly.

Monitoring their food intake is also super important, which leads me to my next point.

Didn’t finish their meal

When a diabetic dog doesn’t finish their meal and received the usual dose of insulin, it can cause hypoglycemia.

The insulin dosage is determined by the amount of food that a dog eats in a day (in two separate meals).

If your dog is not feeling like himself and is maybe sick from something unrelated to diabetes, and doesn’t have an appetite, you shouldn’t give them the full insulin dose.

Instead, you should call your vet and explain the situation and your vet will suggest a smaller dose until your pup is feeling better.

Too much exercise

Exercising lowers blood sugar levels in dogs.

So, let’s say that your diabetic dog ate as it should, received the proper dose of insulin, but ran for 5 miles instead of walking for one mile as the vet might have suggested.

In a scenario like that where dogs get more exercise than needed, getting hypoglycemia is often the result.

This is why it is important to also keep an eye on the amount of exercise they get.

If your vet said to walk one mile, you better walk one mile.

(Related: How To Properly Treat Your Diabetic Dog (Insulin Injection, Diet, and Exercise Tips)

How To Recognize Hypoglycemia in Diabetic Dogs

Recognizing hypoglycemia in diabetic dogs is very important.

Here are the most common symptoms of hypoglycemia in diabetic dogs:

  • Constantly tired and confused
  • Unusually sleep or inactive
  • Excessive drinking and urinating
  • Seizures
  • A low reading on the glucometer (below 50 mg/dl)

The most obvious way to determine if your diabetic dog has hypoglycemia is to check their glucose levels with a glucometer.

If you are not sure how here is a guide on How To Monitor Your Dog’s Blood Sugar [The Proper Way].

Let’s say that you ran out of batteries or do not have test strips.

How will you be able to recognize hypoglycemia in your diabetic dog?

When a diabetic dog has hypoglycemia, it will often feel tired and confused, sleepy and inactive, will drink more water and urinate frequently, and might even have seizures (this happens when the sugar level is below 10 mg/dl).

So, if your diabetic dog is feeling not like himself, you should talk to your veterinarian about changing either the insulin dose, increasing their food portion, or decreasing their exercise.

How To Manage Hypoglycemia in Diabetic Dogs

When you have a dog with hypoglycemia, you can put any type of sugar on their gums to try to get their blood sugar up.

If the dog is conscious enough, it can lick the sugar by itself.

Here are some household items that can be used to manage hypoglycemia in dogs:

  • Honey
  • Karo syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Granulated sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Nutri-cal

(Related: 7 Homemade Diabetic Dog-Friendly Treats and Snacks)

Small puppies often suffer from hypoglycemia because they are tiny breeds.

Dogs carry glycogen in their muscles and in their livers.

When they are puppies, they just don’t have enough muscle mass and their liver isn’t really competent and keeping up those blood glucose levels.

When a small breed dog has low blood sugar constantly, as almost all small breeds do, you should add a bit of sugar to each meal.

Many vets will recommend using Nutri-cal in each meal to avoid any unnecessary crashing in between meals.

However, when a diabetic dog has low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, you need to give them sugar to get them going but also investigate how it got to this point.

A diagnosed diabetic dog has recalculated lifestyle. This means that they have a determined food amount and type, insulin dosage, and exercise requirements.

The only way a diabetic dog with therapy can have low blood sugar is if you either gave it a bit more insulin, they didn’t finish their food, or the exercise was longer than regular.

In any case, rub some sugar on their gums and give your vet a call.

In Conclusion

Recognizing and managing hypoglycemia in diabetic dogs can save their life.

Make sure that you pay attention to this article just in case you need it sometimes.

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