For the Love of Vets

For the Love of Vets

Recognizing and Treating Hypoglycemia Emergencies in Dogs

Erin Steeves

If you have a dog who has been diagnosed with diabetes, then you know how important it is for you to continually monitor his or her blood sugar, diet, and activity levels. But sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, a dog with diabetes may still develop severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Because this is a severe and often immediate emergency, you need to know how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar and understand how an animal hospital will treat such a condition.

Signs of Hypoglycemia

The predominant sign of hypoglycemia in dogs tends to be lethargy. Your dog won't just seem a little tired; he or she will probably not want to move much at all. Some forms of lethargy may come with periods of restlessness during which the dog seems really antsy, anxious, and will not want to sit still. However, most dogs have a weak and staggering gait as they roam about anxiously.

Seizures and muscle twitches can also occur with hypoglycemia. Then, as the condition worsens, your dog may become unconscious or slip into a coma. Hypoglycemia can be deadly, and sadly, some people do not realize something is wrong with their dog until it's too late to fix it.

Treating Hypoglycemia

If you think your dog may be having a hypoglycemic drop, the first thing you should do is rub some corn syrup or honey in their mouth. This should help get their blood sugar levels up high enough to at least get them out of the serious danger zone.

Then, call the animal hospital. If your normal animal hospital is not open, call the emergency vet, and be prepared to drive your dog there right away.

At the animal hospital, the vet will take a blood sample to determine your dog's blood sugar and insulin levels. They can then administer a sugar solution via IV to bring your dog's levels back into a normal range. From there, they will assess your dog's condition and determine whether there may be any lasting damage to the kidneys, brain, or other organs that need to be dealt with. Most dogs will need to stay overnight in the animal hospital for at least a night for observation after a hypoglycemia emergency.

Once your dog has recovered, the vet will work with you on strategies to prevent this from happening again. This may involve making changes to your dog's diet or insulin schedule.

Hypoglycemia in dogs can be really scary, but if you get your furry friend to the animal hospital promptly, treatment is available and effective.


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For the Love of Vets

Did you know that when a veterinarian graduates from veterinary school, they must take an oath before they are allowed to practice? This is similar to the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take upon graduating from medical school. The new vets promise that they will work to relieve animal suffering and promote the overall health of pets. They also promise to uphold their profession with dignity. If you have ever taken your pet to the vet, you've probably seen a vet live this oath firsthand. You can be confident your pet is in good hands. Learn more about vets and the wonderful work they do in the articles curated here.