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What is Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia refers to an abnormal decrease of glucose concentration in the blood, or more simply - low blood sugar levels.  A normal blood glucose value for healthy, non-diabetic dogs is 3.3-6.1 mmol/L.  Hypoglycemia occurs when excessive glucose consumption depletes the reserves of glucose in the body.  Hypoglycemia can be a result of endocrine or hepatic disorders, a higher energy requirement for glucose, lack of glucose due to fasting, or toxicity.  Hypoglycemia will leave dogs feeling weak and groggy.  If left untreated, unconsciousness followed by death will result.

Hypoglycemia is defined as a low blood sugar concentration.  As sugar (in the form of glucose) is the primary energy source in the body, low blood sugar levels will ultimately affect organ and brain function.

Hypoglycemia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $8,000

Average Cost

$4,000

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia in Dogs

Symptoms of hypoglycemia will usually begin with low energy and a delayed response time, if left to progress further these symptoms will develop into more serious signs such as seizures and collapse.  Potential symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy (low energy)
  • Slow response time
  • Unusual behaviour
  • Polyuria (increased urination)
  • Polydipsia (increased thirst)
  • Lack of coordination
  • Partial paralysis of hindquarters
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Trembling
  • Involuntary twitching
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
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Causes of Hypoglycemia in Dogs

Hypoglycemia can be the result of underlying endocrine or hepatic disorders, sudden increase in the use of glucose by the body, inadequate amounts of glucose, or toxicity.  Causes include:

  •  Abnormal growth of pancreatic cells
  • Cancer in the liver or gastrointestinal system
  • Inflammation of the liver
  • Portosystemic shunt
  • Glycogen-storage disease
  • Excessive strenuous exercise
  • Overuse of glucose in the body during pregnancy
  • Reduced intake of glucose due to starvation or malnutrition
  • Delayed time between meals in kittens and puppies (especially toy breeds)
  • Overdosing of insulin
  • Toxicity from ingestion of artificial sweeteners
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Diagnosis of Hypoglycemia in Dogs

When hypoglycemia is suspected on the basis of the above clinical signs and history, the veterinarian will first perform a complete physical exam.  This will be followed by a measurement of the current blood glucose value and potential ancillary tests to define the underlying causes of the condition. 

The initial blood glucose measurement is assessed using a glucometer (also called a glucose meter) and it is a quick easy test that only requires a small drop of blood from the patient.  This is beneficial for hypoglycaemic puppies and kittens as a large sample is not required. The result appears within a few seconds.  An ideal blood glucose value is 3.3-6.1 mmol/L, any reading that is lower than this indicates hypoglycaemia. 

Additional blood tests may be performed to evaluate organ function (specifically the kidney, liver, and pancreas), electrolyte imbalances, thyroid function, cortisol function, and other blood related conditions.  A urinalysis (urine test) may be performed to eliminate urinary infections or disease, as well as evaluate kidney function.

If the cause of hypoglycaemia is suspected to be related to cancer or tumour growth, then an ultrasound may be performed.

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Treatment of Hypoglycemia in Dogs

Initial treatment is aimed at correcting the hypoglycemic crisis by way of raising the blood sugar levels.  Depending on the severity and symptoms, this may be initially managed by rubbing glucose or corn syrup on the gums (a treatment which can be started by the owner at home).  If more aggressive therapy is required, the dog will be placed on a intravenous fluid infusion containing concentrated dextrose. Blood glucose levels will be reassessed after the initial treatment.

Ongoing treatment will focus on management of the underlying cause of disease.  If the hypoglycaemia has occurred due to fasting or over exercise, the condition will be resolved after a period of rest.  Dogs will usually be monitored for several hours at the veterinary hospital and then sent home with preventative discharge instructions.

If hypoglycaemia occurred due to a cancer, tumour, or portosystemic shunt then surgery could be necessary.  Inflammatory or endocrine disorders may be treated with medical management.  Toxicity is usually managed with supportive treatment.  Defining and treating the underlying cause is essential or hypoglycaemia will reoccur.

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Recovery of Hypoglycemia in Dogs

Once a patient is discharged after a hypoglycemic episode, it is important to continue home monitoring for signs of reoccurrence.  Dogs may be sent home with specific surgical discharge instructions or medications to treat the underlying conditions depending on what is performed in clinic.

For cases of strict hypoglycemia, special care should be taken in small breed puppies or kittens and highly active dogs to prevent reoccurrence.  For puppies and kittens, frequency of feeding should be increased to several small meals per day instead of one large meal.  For active dogs, it is advised to feed a moderate meal several hours before activity and to keep snacks readily available.  Care should also be taken to monitor dogs closely when there is a requirement for fasting, for example pre-operative periods.

Ultimately, prognosis and the expected time to a full recovery is dependent on the underlying conditions that have contributed to hypoglycemia.

 

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Cost of Hypoglycemia in Dogs

Treatment cost will vary greatly depending on the underlying conditions responsible for the hypoglycemic episode.  For an initial consultation, blood glucose test, and treatment with glucose syrup, the cost will be approximately $80 - $200.  If an intravenous glucose infusion is required this can add an additional $100 - $300.  Treatment cost for underlying causes is based on whether surgical intervention or medical therapy is necessary, and will start from $800.  Ongoing treatment may be necessary and the total treatment cost can be between $1000 - $8000.

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Hypoglycemia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $8,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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Hypoglycemia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Yorkie

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

Whimpering and shaking

Feb. 21, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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2 Recommendations

You mention your dog is on insulin. Shaking may mean blood levels are too low. A vet visit is best so they can be checked over and the vet may run a blood test to check glucose levels.

Feb. 21, 2021

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Maltipoo

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11 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Low Energy, Slight Loss Of Appetite, Not Acting Herself

My 12 month old maltipo got spayed 6 days ago and was prescribed oain and antibiotic medication. However, I noticed that after the first 24 hours she’s not eating well and she seems tired/sad all the time. She’s drinking water but doesn’t want her dry dog food so I started feeding her wet food. She eats it ok but not like she used to eat before the surgery. She has always been a happy, hyperactive puppy and swing her like this worries me. What could it be? Her wound is dry and send to be healing fine.

Aug. 18, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. Her energy may still be low due to the surgery that she had performed, but I do think it would be a good idea to give your veterinarian a call and follow up on it. Sometimes antibiotics can cause nausea and loss of appetite, but I do think it would be a good idea to have her seen in the office so your veterinarian can make sure it is nothing more serious. I hope she feels better soon!

Aug. 18, 2020

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Australian Shepherd

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Twelve Weeks

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Head Shaking

She has parvo. I have been treating her at home. I think she is hypoglycemic because her head is starting to shake. Is there anyway I can treat her at home?

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear that your dog isn't feeling good. It is best to keep your dog hydrated and syringe feeding food. If your dog has low blood sugar give him food or a little sugar water will help with the low blood sugar. WIth parvo, it is always best to see your vet. I hope your dog starts to feel better soon.

July 24, 2020

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Doodle-Dot

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Pomeranian

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9 Weeks

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Critical severity

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6 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Disoriented,
Disoriented, Lethargy, Not Eating,

I brought home a 1.4lb 9 week Pomeranian Puppy. For the first 36 hours she was a completely normal puppy- her poop was a bit runny- but good energy levels, eating and drinking on own. By the end of her second day, she wasn’t too interested in eating and threw up a little that night. We woke up with her at 3am and she threw up again. By 6am, she was very disoriented (no seizures, just wobbly), so we rushed her to the emergency vet. Blood sugar was at 30. After getting her levels up (we already had an appointment T our regular vet) and we took her straight to normal vet and they ruled out Parvo but found hookworms. We stayed at the vet all day because she was still not eating or drinking on her own and to monitor blood sugar. We went home that night and for 2 days were up for 48 straight hours with her feeding her 2-3ml of a high caloric diet through syringe- every hour (she wouldn’t eat on own), some water and some nutrical as needed. We went back to the vet and her blood sugar was still so low it wouldn’t even register on machine. The breeder thought she could get her levels up- but is still having a hard time getting her back to “normal”. Could this just be a case of hypoglycemia that she will overcome in a few days, or does it sound like a larger problem?

Sept. 11, 2018

Doodle-Dot's Owner

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Aggie

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Lurcher

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Seizues Ataxia

Hypoglycaemia in Bearded collie/ greyhound. My bitch is 2.5 years old. She started having witnessed seizures about 2 months ago ( seeing her reaction I think she had, had them before and I just saw her post seizure). She was diagnosed with hypoglycaemia. She is a poor eater, always has been. I feed her 3 times a day and give her high calorie gel 3 times a day. She is fit and healthy with glossy coat. Today was hot and she is in season, she ate well, but seemed terribly hungry this evening. I should have given her the gel but I thought she is eating so well it would be okay. She then had a seizure. I give corn syrup on gums and she comes round almost at once, but is ataxic and seems to not see too well for a while afterwards. I also cool her off with wet towels as the muscle spasms make her hot. I keep her on a lead during this time. She is in season at the moment and has had 3 seizures since it started. I know hormone imbalances can cause hypoglycaemia so I was wondering if I get her spayed is she likely to be cured of the hypoglycaemia?

Aug. 3, 2018

Aggie's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Whilst spaying may improve the condition in patients with diabetes, I don’t know of any benefits for patients with hypoglycemia; you should speak with your Veterinarian to determine what the specific underlying cause is (insulinoma etc…) to see if there is a more permanent solution than just dietary management. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 3, 2018

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Lucky

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Jack Russell Terrier

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2 Weeks

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic
Wont Eat

I'm currently struggling to keep a 2 week old jack Russell pup alive. He does fine during the day with bottle feeding(mom was not producing milk). He eats every 2 hours about 1/2 an ounce I make sure his belly is full. Then when 6 o'clock feeding hit hes lethargic, weak and wont eat even with a syringe he closes his mouth and pushes it out wont swallow. I have him in a puppy warmer and I gave him .5 of nutracal. I lost one puppy yesterday vet said fading puppy syndrome but sugar was low. Anyone have any ideas?

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Lilly

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Lab/Ret mix

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7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

Yesterday my 7yo Lab/Retriever mix had a small seizure after waking up in the morning. She was just snapping her jaws, then went outside and acted normal for the rest of the day until about 4 pm when she had a grand Mal seizure. She acted funny after the seizure, she was running all over the house, not able to lie down, she was very hungry and thirsty. I called my vet and they simply said to give her small sips of water and a small amount to eat, but they couldn't get her in for at least 7 days. At 8:15 she had another Grand Mal seizure. I had been researching anything I could on line about seizures and came across an interesting bit of advice, the lady said that she gave her dogs a small amount of all natural Vanilla Hagen Daz ice cream to prevent seizures and I did the same. It has been 12 hours and my little girl hasn't had a seizure since. I am a disabled veteran, I have a couple of disorders that I rely on my dog to help me through. She isn't a certified service dog, but she sure knows when to cuddle up to me and give little kisses to help me through the rough times. I don't have the money for a huge vet bill, and the 3 vets I called said it would be expensive, but I can't lose my girl. So, I plan to make some dog biscuits today with peanut butter and honey, however I am not sure how many to give her per day, I don't want to make her diabetic or cause any other problems. Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated, god bless!

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Max

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Lab/terr

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hypoglycemia

My dog Max is 5 years old, part lab, part terrier, he weighs about 37 lbs. We rescued him at 12 weeks. 2 weeks ago we noticed him getting what we thought he was dizzy after a walk. He swayed and almost fell over. Minutes later he was back to normal. This happened again so we took him to the vet. His blood sugar was 57. My regular vet wasn’t there so we saw another vet who mentioned it could be an Insulinoma. So I saw my vet a few days later and he did a full blood panel and everything looked normal but again his blood sugar was 43. He did more testing and it came back his pancreas is over producing insulin which means it’s most likely an Insulinoma. So I am taking him to VCA Aurora Animal Hospital on Friday to get more tests done and see a soft tissue surgeon, get scans done, etc. My question is did I catch this soon enough for his survival? He just started with this low blood sugar 2 weeks ago? He hasn’t had a dizzy spell in 1week. He is our baby and we love him so. I just can’t bare losing him. He is the perfect dog. Trained in 2 weeks, very loving, my best friend. This is heartbreaking. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/hypoglycemia

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Stedman

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Yorkie

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Low Energy, Unsteadiness

My 10 year old mini yorkie has insulinoma which had spread to his spleen. He had surgery in April to remove the spleen, and removed a mass on the left side of his pancreas and part of his pancreas. He takes prednisone daily and has done well until recently, when we noticed lower energy and wobbly walking. We have done random glucose testing at the vet which has been a little low, but recently more so. It was recommended that we get a libra monitor and sensor (installed 3 days ago) and have noted that he is going low a lot . We were told to put honey or karo syrup on his gums, but I am doing it a lot. I can't imagine all that sugar can be good for my dog either, so what other options do I have? Today I tested 36 times and 12 times he was in the low 40's or lower. The vet says 50+ is good for him. I feel like I have to figure out something that is easier on my little guy than trying to put something sweet in his mouth 8-12 times in a day. It has been tough on me, but I think harder for my little guy. Please give me some suggestions??? Is there a specialist that I should be seeing for this condition, as I am concerned I am not seeiing most appropriate specialist? What about diet or are there other alternatives to consider? I love love love my doggie, and I do not think it is time to put him to sleep, but want to find a better, kinder way to help my doggie have a normal life.

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Sheba

dog-breed-icon

lab/pit

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Appears To Have Bad Hiccups During

My dog was recently diagnosed with low blood sugar. She had a very bad attack that included shaking, legs going as if running, difficulty walking (all legs collapsing at once). I was told to feed her smaller meals 4 to 6 times a day and if has an attack give her some raw honey. I've been doing this and she was fine then she had another severe attack. What is strange is about 2 weeks prior to the 1st attack she went for a routine physical and her rabies shot. She was fine and her physical was glowing. Could the rabies shot cause this? I was told of a test she can have to check her pancreas so I plan on taking her this week.

Hypoglycemia Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $8,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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