Hypoglycemia--Low blood sugar
Physiology: Glucose is the main source of energy for the body and the only source of energy for the brain. When most of the glucose in the blood is used up, the body responds by releasing glucose from the liver and by breaking down fatty acids and other energy sources. If no more stored glucose is available, the brain runs out of energy and can even be damaged beyond repair.
Causes: “Puppy Hypoglycemia” is seen in toy breed dogs less than 5 months of age. These dogs have more brain mass per body weight compared to other breeds and therefore need more glucose for brain function. Other causes include excessive exercise in sporting breeds, liver disease, cancer, pregnancy, severe infection, prolonged starvation, and poor adrenal gland function.
Signs: Weakness, loss of mental alertness, wobbliness, muscle twitching, seizures, and death.
Treatment: Intravenous dextrose (a sugar) is needed for treatment of most severe cases. If the dog is seizuring at home, the owner can try rubbing corn syrup on the gums while transporting to the hospital. Large amounts should not be fed unless the dog can swallow. Sugars can also be absorbed through the rectum, so 50% dextrose could be given by enema until intravenous treatment is available. Once seizures are controlled, blood work and other diagnostic tests should be performed to determine the cause of the problem. Sporting dogs and toy dogs will need increased frequency of feedings and will need to have a meal a few hours before strenuous activity.
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