Pets And Hypoglycemia

Like humans, pets can suffer from hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is when the blood sugar gets so low that it affects the animal's functioning. In some cases, it can be life threatening or result in permanent damage, like blindness. Because pets often can't tell us what is wrong with them, or sometimes like to hide illnesses, hypoglycemia may be overlooked until it's life threatening.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia:

Pets with hypoglycemia exhibit symptoms similar to humans with the same issue. They will appear lethargic and act disoriented. They may also appear anxious or unusually nervous. In some cases, their lips and paws may appear twitchy and they may appear exceptionally hungry. In some cases, they may lose their appetite completely. If left un-addressed, more serious symptoms can develop, such as seizures and fainting which might require veterinarian interaction.

Causes of hypoglycemia:

One of the biggest reasons a pet may have chronic hypoglycemia is that they may have diabetes. Diabetes can happen to any animal at any time, but mostly affects animals that are older, overweight, and that exercise very little. Small pets can become hypoglycemic easier than larger ones due to their faster metabolisms, and babies can be hypoglycemic because their metabolisms haven't fully developed. Kidney failure, cancer, pancreatitis, and starvation can also cause a hypoglycemic episode.

Treatment for hypoglycemia:

If your pet shows signs of hypoglycemia, then a checkup at the veterinarian is due. It is important that you do not treat your pet yourself for this problem even if you are sure you know what it is. The veterinarian will do blood and urine tests to check for sugar and other issues as part of a routine checkup. If diabetes is suspected, the veterinarian may recommend a fasting blood glucose and liver function test. If the cause still isn't clear, x-rays and tests for adrenal and thyroid diseases might also need to be done. The pet will be prescribed a diet that is usually low in carbohydrates and possibly medication.

Prevention of hypoglycemia:

Pets who suffer from chronic hypoglycemia should be kept on a strict diet and exercise regime. Most pets will benefit from smaller, more frequent meals low in carbohydrates. Keep treats on the healthy side and at a minimum. Pets with diabetes will need to have their blood sugar monitored and may require insulin injections that your veterinarian will instruct you on administrating. If your pet has a sudden hypoglycemic attack, you can use a small amount of corn syrup, fruit juice, ice cream, or other high sugar food to stabilize them. Use about a teaspoon for small pets, like cats and small dogs, and two or three teaspoons for larger animals. Birds and rodents may require less than a teaspoon. If the pet can't swallow the sugar, you can rub a small amount on their gums. After the pet stabilizes, he or she should be taken to a veterinarian or an animal hospital.