What is it?
The brain needs a steady supply of glucose to function properly. Hypoglycemia is a medical term for critically low levels of sugar in the blood.
What Causes it?
Hypoglycemia may be caused by blood loss or other medical conditions. The most common cause is the side effects of drugs that are being used to treat diabetes. However, it can be a genetic condition in some small breed dogs. The breeds most likely to be affected by the genetic condition are:
Other causes may be:
- Liver shunt
- Chronic diarrhea
- Bacterial infections
- Parasitic infections
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DOG HAS IT?
I can tell you from experience that the symptoms can be very scary. When I got my very first Chihuahua he was just 9 weeks old and very tiny. One day I noticed that he just didn’t look right. He looked glassy-eyed and seemed to be staring without seeing anything. I picked him up and he was very wobbly. When I put him on the floor he couldn’t walk. He would stagger, then fall over and he couldn’t stand back up.
Believe me, this was one of the most frightening experiences I had ever had as a dog owner. I knew that whatever it was, it was serious! I rushed him to our local animal hospital. They took him in the back and when they brought him back out again he was perfectly fine and it was as if nothing had ever been wrong. They told me it was hypoglycemia and to feed him small amounts often to make sure his blood sugar level remained steady. Since this is a twenty-four-hour veterinary hospital, needless to say, it cost me a pretty penny.
Then when I got my second Chihuahua it happened two more times with two more trips to the local animal hospital and a huge bill. The next time it happened our regular vet’s office was open and we went there. My vet then told me what to do at home when it happened. And what he told me could have saved me hundreds of dollars in vet bills the last three times it had happened.
These are the symptoms to look for:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased hunger
- Blurred vision
- Disorientation and confusion
- Weakness, low energy, loss of consciousness
- Seizures (if left untreated)
- Tremor or shivering
- Sudden collapse
- Extreme lethargy (not wanting to wake up from a nap)
- Excessive drooling or a “foaming at the mouth” appearance
In the small breed dogs mentioned above, it happens more often when they are puppies. Puppies bodies are less able to control the blood sugar levels but usually outgrow it. It can, however, occur in adult dogs.
If you notice any of the above symptoms you should IMMEDIATELY administer some sugar or honey to your dog. It is a good idea to keep a syringe where you can get to it quickly. Fill the syringe with sugar water or honey and administer it orally. I always keep Karo Syrup around and it works great. You should also make sure you take these things with you if you travel with your dog (s). It is a good idea to rub sugar on the gums because it is absorbed into the blood stream faster. Recovery often happens immediately, however, it can also take a little time for them to recover. If this happens, administer the honey/sugar water/Karo syrup at 15 to 30-minute intervals. Food should be offered at similar intervals until the dog begins to eat and is acting normally.
Make sure your dog is warm at all times. If your dog is a puppy feed him or her small amounts often throughout the day to help keep blood sugar levels steady. Nutri-Cal-4-25-oz-paste is a good thing to keep around for puppies.
As always, be sure to have him evaluated by a veterinarian to make sure there are no underlying causes.
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your question in the comments below.
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