Glucose or blood sugar is the primary source of energy for both humans and animals. Your pet could suffer from a condition called hypoglycemia when its blood sugar drops to low levels. Although this condition is not a disease, it can be life-threatening in severe situations. It results in decreased ability to function and loss of energy. Hypoglycemia is often an indicator of other serious diseases in pets. There are many low blood sugar symptoms you should watch out for.
What Is Low Blood Sugar?
Low blood sugar does not occur due to less food or inadequate diet. This condition is not related to giving direct sugar to your pet. In fact, sugar in the form of sucrose is harmful to your pet and should never be a part of his diet. Hypoglycemia refers to a condition when sugar levels in the blood drop dangerously low. The medical term for this condition is hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar is often linked to an overdose of insulin and diabetes. In most pets, the presence of low blood sugar symptoms shows other underlying health problems. It is important that you take your pet to a vet at the first signs.
What Are the Various Causes?
There are various causes of this condition. Treatment of diabetes is the primary one. Diabetes is a disease that interferes with your pet’s ability to produce and process insulin. Insulin is responsible to process glucose in the bloodstream and make sure it reaches cells to transform into energy. Pet parents are required to give regular insulin injectors to even out blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia can affect a pet when there is an overdose of this drug. This causes the body to go into a hyper-drive state and metabolize excess sugar.
Other causes for low blood sugar symptoms in your pet include conditions that require excess energy. This can be insulin-secreting tumors, infection, sepsis, certain cancers, and pregnancy. Your pet can also suffer from liver diseases that cause a fall in the production of glucose. Diseases such as Addison’s, pancreatitis, kidney failure, and liver shunts can cause low blood sugar. Another common cause is malnutrition and starvation.
Is Low Blood Sugar Dangerous for Dogs/Cats?
Hypoglycemia is a life-threatening condition. As a pet owner, you must keep an eye out for low blood sugar symptoms. Your pet derives energy by processing glucose at a cellular level. It is in fact, the primary source of energy for your dog or cat. A decrease in energy levels can cause fatigue and low energy. In severe instances, it can even result in loss of consciousness or death. It is important that you always keep your eyes peeled for the various low blood sugar symptoms. A low blood sugar level is a dangerous condition that can cause death. It is important that you take special care of your pet if you find any low blood sugar symptoms.
Which Pets Are Most at Risk?
Young kittens and puppies under 3 months old are at a higher risk of hypoglycemia. This is because their body has not attained the ability to regulate glucose levels efficiently. You need to be extra careful in protecting your young pets from stress, cold weather, over-exercise, parasites, and improper feeding.
Low blood sugar is also dangerous for small pets who cannot store more glucose in their body. Small or toy breed dogs are always at a risk of hypoglycemia so you need to be careful. Hunting and working dogs are prone to low blood sugar levels as they use a lot of energy during the day. Pregnant pets and those with medical conditions need monitoring to prevent low sugar levels.
What Are the Risk Factors of Not Identifying Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition for both human and pets. Your pet might suffer from a series of conditions due to this. For instance, an active pet might become lethargic overnight or home accidents might become frequent for a house trained pet. Your pet could also be at a danger of serious medical harm as there are chances of losing consciousness and entering coma because of low sugar levels.
Other serious risks involving low sugar levels include dietary and lifestyle changes. Your pet might eat excessively leading to obesity. He could also lose his appetite altogether causing lethargy and weakness. This condition is almost always indicative of an underlying disease. It is important that you identify these underlying diseases and begin treatment.
Common Low Blood Sugar Symptoms
Low blood sugar symptoms can vary as per the day. They can remain persistent or come and go. These are 7 common symptoms of low blood sugar in dogs and cats.
This is perhaps the most common symptom. It is important that you do not brush away low energy in your pet without finding the root cause for it. Indicators of low energy are lethargy, fatigue, and unusual behavior. Blood sugar is the main source of energy in pets. There is a loss of functionality when the body cannot produce or process adequate amounts of sugar. Your dog or cat will be less playful and active. A lethargic pet will be uninterested in playing or going for a walk. Your pet will lose interest in activities that were otherwise enjoyable.
This is another common low blood sugar symptom. You would find primary signs of weakness in your pet. Your dog will become exercise intolerant. In severe cases, your pet might not have the willpower to get up from a resting position. It is a little harder to notice these signs in kittens and cats as they tend to naturally sleep for long durations. Listless eyes and an inability to respond to your affections are common low blood sugar symptoms. Loss of vision is prevalent in severe cases of hypoglycemia. Your pet might walk into doors and appear otherwise disoriented.
The brain depends on energy processed by the insulin hormone to function accurately. Energy is the focal point of your pet’s body. During low blood sugar levels, your pet will appear increasingly disoriented. It is important that you do not confuse this symptom with sleepiness or lethargy. A common sign of disorientation is a loss of coordination. This can include not walking straight or not being able to jump. Your feline pet might go round in circles trying to jump to a high vantage point. Disorientation might also occur due to cloudy or red eyes. Excessive discharge or squinting is a telltale sign of low blood sugar.
Your pet will show signs of tiredness and will not be as engaged as before. Other signs of unusual behavior include a change in dietary habits and play schedules. Your pet might appear highly anxious or depressed. For instance, he might not come running when you enter the house. Other odd behavior can include not playing or appearing disinterested in your efforts to engage.
It is always a cause to worry when you pet changes dietary habits. Low blood sugar can affect your pet. It might develop increased hunger and thirst. Your pet might demand more frequent meals or bigger portions. Alternatively, it could also exhibit signs of appetite loss. It might not be interested in eating regular portions and appear listless even during meal times. Eating habits can change drastically if your cat suffers from hypoglycemia. Cats are naturally sensitive creatures and any change in their body functions can cause tremendous stress and anxiety. This affects eating habits.
Early symptoms of hypoglycemia are linked to diabetes in pets. It is important to note the amount of water your dog or cat drinks each day. A pet that has increased its daily water intake could be moving towards diabetes. It is possible to check water usage by monitoring the number of times you need to fill your pet’s drinking bowl. Other things that may indicate increased water intake is frequent urination, accidents in the home and a need to go outside more often. You can increase the life expectancy of your pet by taking note of these small lifestyle changes.
Other Physical Symptoms
There are some obvious low blood sugar symptoms that need immediate medical attention such as coma, collapse, and seizures. Your pet could be suffering from a severe case of low blood sugar level. These symptoms can be brought on by other causes. However, it is important that you take your pet to a vet immediately to determine the exact cause. Tremors or shivering and heart palpitations are almost always indicative of hypoglycemia.
There are various signs and symptoms indicative of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. However, every pet has an inane sense of survival. Your pet might appear healthy on the outside while struggling with various medical conditions. As a pet owner, It is important for you to observe the little things. Vets can bring diseases such as hypoglycemia and other indicative diseases under control with early detection. Contact a vet at the first signs of low blood sugar symptoms.