Facts and Information on Canine Hypoglycemia
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Facts and Information on Canine Hypoglycemia

If you notice a dog with listlessness, chances are this is a sign of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. There are other various causes for the condition which is easily treated once diagnosed.

A condition that results in low blood sugar is call Hypoglycemia and  can affect anyone, humans and animals alike.  Smaller and younger dogs are more susceptible to hypoglycemia though the older and larger dog can be affected by the condition,  because of an illness such as liver disease.

Some of the causes of hypoglycemia are stress, cold, malnutrition, infection and intestinal parasites. The most common cause is an abnormal function of the hormones that regulate blood sugar. Other causes include the inability of the body to store proper amounts of glucose, a tumor of the pancreas that produces excess insulin, liver disease, overwhelming infection, an overdose of insulin used to treat diabetes and Addison's disease, which is a deficiency in hormones produced by the adrenal glands.

There are certain tests performed to determine any underlying causes of hypoglycemia. The brain is completely dependent upon glucose to function, and the liver is responsible for manufacturing glucose. The glucose is then stored in a usable form, for release into the bloodstream as needed. These tests will show the results of blood proteins, liver enzymes, kidney function, electrolytes, cholesterol, muscle enzymes and glucose. Liver disease may cause an increase in some liver enzymes. Chronic liver disease may cause a decrease in glucose, cholesterol, albumin and urea.

The first step is a thorough examination, plus a complete medical history. Diagnosis for hypoglycemia involves blood tests and analyses that measure the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The results of the tests indicate how well your dog's organs are functioning and other possible underlying conditions that may be causing your dog's hypoglycemia. Liver disease is a common cause of hyperglycemia in older dogs. A serum biochemistry panel test is taken to analyze the chemical composition of blood serum, which indicates how well particular organ systems are functioning. Other tests may include a urinalysis, fecal test, bile exam and X-rays. Your veterinarian needs the results of all of the tests in order to effectively treat your dog’s hypoglycemia.

Treatment involves getting the glucose level at the appropriate level, on the advice of your veterinarian. Hypoglycemia and liver disease can be treated and controlled through dietary adjustments such as proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats and other nutrients. Another important fact is to frequently feed your dog a high quality food to keep glucose at the correct levels. Treatment may involve a placement of an intravenous catheter and administering an electrolyte salt solution that also contains dextrose. Glucose home tests can be done to keep track of your dog’s sugar levels. If you notice your dog getting weak or passing out, consider rubbing a small amount of Karo syrup on his gums to stabilize his glucose. Of course, treatment and prognosis depend on the severity of the hypoglycemia and the underlying causes.

If you have a small or toy breed, take precautions in preventing the onset of hypoglycemia and any of the underlying causes. Adding a drop of honey or Karo syrup to his food once a week or as needed (when your dog appears to get listless) can keep his glucose level from dropping. However, whether you have a small or large dog, providing a nutritional balanced diet, regular vet visits with recommended care and vaccinations will keep your dog in tip-top shape. If you have concerns about hypoglycemia in your dog, whether they involve size, breeding or health issues, discuss the situation with your veterinarian.


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