View Full Version : Signs of Hypoglycemia

05-05-2008, 04:41 PM
I'm putting together a web page on hypoglycemia.

If your dog has ever experienced low blood sugar, anything from slightly low to seizures, I'd very much appreciate it if you could post describing what signs your dog gave that made you suspect low blood sugar.

Also, if the hypoglycemia was fairly severe, it would help if you could describe the early signs if there were any, as well as whatever behavior changes s/he went through before recovering, including seizures.

Thanks!! :)


05-05-2008, 04:44 PM
Chris has never had an episode of severe low blood sugar. I think the lowest BG we have ever measured was in the 40s and he has never had seizures (knock on wood).

His first sign of low blood sugar is being shaky and weak. If he's on a walk, he slows to a crawl. Sometimes he can be restless.

For him, exercise and vet visits are prime times for him to go low. His blood sugar drops from anxiety, excitement, and exercise.


We Hope
05-05-2008, 05:05 PM
When we were initially getting Lucky regulated on the old Lilly pork Lente insulin, he registered a 35. This was the only time he got syrup (2 cc's of Mrs. Butterworth in a syringe under his tongue). (And a hamburger too, after that! :) ) The only outward signs of his being low were the whites of his eyes had become very bloodshot.

We had been checking his eyes because we'd discovered that when he was high, his eyes were bloodshot. The color of the red we saw when he was high was much brighter than the time he was low--that was a much darker shade of red. When he was in good control--not one way or another, the whites of his eyes would be without any bloodshot at all.

When I discovered this about him, I'd say to John when we'd come in for testing whether I thought he was high or that I thought we'd all be happy with the test this time. John would have a look at his eyes and then take the test. Lucky's eyes told the tale before the test did. John then put this to work with his other diabetic patients--to see if this was true for them or simply something unique to Lucky. Their eyes had the same story Lucky's did with being high, low or in the right zone.

05-05-2008, 05:21 PM
Zip has had a few episodes of moderate hypo and one case of extremely low bgs.
During the few times he has had moderately low bg ( around 40 ) he would come by me and be just a general pita. More than usual, because he normally craves attention. I guess this is his way of trying to tell me that something is happening that he doesnít like.
When he REALLY wants attention, I usually check his bgs to find them around 40 to 50.

Fortunately for us all, he has only had one episode where the meter read LO ( Iím going to guess and say he had to be a lot lower than 40 ).
At this time, he came over to me and started looking for attention.
He stood by me for about 10 seconds, and dropped like a rock to the floor.

On all these occasions we gave him some Karo, and within 2 minutes he was fine.

I will admit Ė the real lows are scary.

05-06-2008, 06:02 AM
Taffy would walk funny - I guess I would say stumbling almost. This only happened once when she was quite sick and not eating well. Giving the right amt of insulin was a crap shoot. I over dosed her a few times, but the rest of her six years.... no hypo's. I count myself blessed in that regard. Jody

05-06-2008, 11:23 PM
I wonderd where Niki was, and called her, she was hiding behind a large plant in the living room, as she came to me she was jerking all over, I was panic strickened. 51 lb dog 18 units am 14 units pm

Called vet soon as it happened, was told to do the syrup and give some food

At vet next day in AM her BG was at 70, so no doubt she had to go below 20, my guess!

Signals to me when there is too much insulin from Niki, she got to the point where she did not come to me for her shot, as I called her with my stricker tone, she just came over and layed down hard on the floor as if to say "Go ahead I don't need it, but you are gonna give me the shot anyway"

This laying down with digust happened even after her dose got lowered with same food, same highs, insulin was at 14-10 units I knew something was wrong but being a novice how would I know. I believe it was rebound from still to much insulin.

Also her nose is dry when she is going low, signaling to me she needs some food or treat. (others won't agree, but thats the way it is with Niki)

The going into shock that happened was when after diag, first insulin prescribed told to give 4-3 units 2 X, each week BG hi, insulin increased over 2 months to 18-14 units, which resulted in shock. She was on Purina DCO at the time.

My opinon: Wrong food, incorrect amount of insulin, vet only did blood draw once a week.

At time I did not know about home testing, and canine diabetes board, how wrong vets are.

Niki changed to 10-10 units new vet same food, same highs.

2nd time it happened Aug 2008

We were out food shopping, theres a park right there so I always take Niki for a short walk,usually she wants to keep going sniffing all around etc, but this day she wanted to go back in the car, her head was down, slow panting, funny look about her, she never holds her head down like that, that day i was without syrup, so thankfully i had a vanilla latte, she licked it up and I gave her some kibble I keep in the car, got home 1/2 hr later her bg was at 150 so I know her BG may have gone to 70 or below. This was about 4 hrs after shot and food. Funny thing is my mom had regular pepsi, I tried this first, Niki did not like the pepsi and wanted no part of it.

Put Niki's life in my hands, as vet had said, its very hard to regulate a dog, meaning to me, it was like (no answers for me) :mad:

05-07-2008, 01:50 PM
When Buddy's BG is too low he usually is quite clingy as if he knows something is wrong and doesn't want to leave my side. Then he gets lethargic and sleeps and if I still haven't worked out what is going on he starts to twitch in his sleep which progresses into quite violent jerking of the legs and he is really hard to wake. Sometimes I can work out why he has gone low and other times it is a mystery but home blood testing has made it so much easier to check on Bud if I am concerned.

Brandy mom
05-08-2008, 05:02 PM
Brandy has had a few lows. In the 30's and will still be walking like nothing is wrong. I found that before Brandy will start to drop she gets very hyper. She will start running and will not stop. She will be running through the house and throwing her toys in the air. Not sure why I think she can feel the low and just doen't know what it is or how to make it stop. So when she does this I grab my meter and test her. It depends on the number and what I wil give her. Then I have to sit on the floor with her and make her stop running. Not so easy consedering she weighs 80 pounds.

Dawn and the girls

We Hope
05-08-2008, 05:37 PM

When anyone starts going low, the counter-regulatory hormones are released by the body to save itself by raising blood glucose. One of them is adrenalin:


"The counter-regulatory hormones such as adrenalin/epinephrine, glucagon and cortisol/cortisone are released to provide extra energy to the body in various circumstances, or if the body believes it's threatened with hypoglycemia. In some cases this is part of the body's "self-defense" mechanism to counter the effects of too much insulin."

"epinephrine or adrenalin--Similar to cortisol but acts instantly -- used for fight-or-flight. Redirects body energy into heart & legs, forces fast glycogenolysis (creation of extra blood glucose), reduces receptivity to insulin."


"Epinephrine, or adrenalin, is a hormone present in all of us; most medical literature refers to it simply as the "fight or flight" hormone. It is what gives one that "extra boost" when needed to either escape danger or stand one's ground."

Some people with diabetes become restless or over active when they're too low:


Page 5

"Symptoms of mild to moderate hypoglycemia may occur suddenly and can include restlessness."

Lucky was the opposite; he was constantly hyperactive before we got him regulated because of the high levels of glucose he had. He was like a kid who had a "sugar buzz" from way too many sweets. :)

05-12-2008, 08:46 PM
Dolly: "Go ahead I don't need it, but you are gonna give me the shot anyway"

LOL!! They suffer our fussing so graciously, don't they?!?!?!?!


05-12-2008, 08:47 PM
Thanks for relating stories about hypo behavior. I will incorporate everything posted here into the page, when I finally get it written.

Anyone still interested in adding - please do! :)


05-12-2008, 10:25 PM
LOL!! They suffer our fussing so graciously, don't they?!?!?!?!


She really did this, she'd lay down hard on the floor, i felt bad, i didn't know what was going on at the time, they are so obedient, depend on us, but i got Niki's message.:)

Debbie & Apollo
06-19-2008, 02:34 PM
I wish I had seen this forum before we had our
I am not sure if you would say Apollo had Low Blood Sugar or too much insulin.

Let me explain --- Apollo had a very bad bladder infection that was caused by bladder stones. We didn't realize it was going on until we happened to see blood in his urine. At the time we were doing NO home testing.

He began antibiodics for the bladder infection and after a few months with no improvement we did mor testing and discovered the stones. Surgery was done.

Now -- the infection cleared up.... we still were not doing any home testing.
I wasn't told his insulin might need to be reduced since the infection was gone.

A few days after surgery he just started to fall over! HE could not stand on his own and had no desire to eat. We did know about Karo Syrup.... a few calls to the Vet and we discovered what was happening.


There have been a few other times that I know he is low... he becomes mostly antisocial -but he will bug us for something to eat. I have learned to watch for the 'signs'.

Soaphie & Sydney's Mom
11-13-2008, 05:24 PM
The first time it happened....if I wouldn't have known she was diabetic I would have thought she was having a stroke....lurking around, acting "drunk". Immediately gave her karo syrup and a banana. When she started coming out of it - we gave her some of her food.

A couple of other times she has woken me up in the middle of the night to let me know she wasn't "right". One time it was too late and a seizure happened within 30 seconds. It was horrific. We are still trying to get her regulated on Vetsulin. I NEVER EVER want to experience another seizure again. I can only begin to tell you how traumatized I am after having that happen.

11-13-2008, 05:58 PM
It is very scary, my first vet had Niki up to 18 and 14 units no wonder!!!

We Hope
11-14-2008, 09:19 AM

Hypoglycemia WB Thomas D.V.M Dipl.ACVIM(Neurology)

"Hypoglycemia is an abnormally low level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The brain requires sugar for normal function, and unlike many other organs, the brain has a very limited ability to store glucose. This means that the brain is the organ predominantly affected when blood glucose gets too low. Hypoglycemia can be caused by abnormal function of the hormones that regulate blood sugar or the inability of the body to store adequate amounts of glucose. Specific causes include insulinoma ( a tumor of the pancreas that produces excess insulin), overwhelming infection, an overdose of insulin used to treat diabetes, and hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease), a deficiency in hormones normally produced by the adrenal glands. Puppies, especially toy breed puppies, are predisposed to developing hypoglycemia because they have less ability to store and mobilize glucose, compared to older animals. Stress, low body temperature, ineffective nursing, infections, and premature birth may precipitate hypoglycemia. A common cause of hypoglycemia" is inadequate handling of the blood sample. If a blood sample is taken but not tested for several hours, the glucose measurement may be artificially low.

"The signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia are similar regardless of the cause. These include lethargy, weakness, incoordination, seizures, nervousness, tremors, and hunger. In severe cases the dog may become unconscious.

"A diagnosis of hypoglycemia as a cause of neurological problems is based on three criteria: (1) The patient has clinical signs of hypoglycemia, (2) A blood glucose concentration of less than 45 mg/dl is measured, and (3) The clinical signs go away when glucose is administered to the patient.

"Once it is determined the neurological signs are due to hypoglycemia, the cause of the hypoglycemia must be found. In addition to a medical history and examination, laboratory tests are usually performed. If an insulinoma is suspected the insulin concentration in the blood can be measured. Hypoadrenocorticism can be diagnosed on the basis of measuring cortisol levels in the blood.

"Emergency treatment of hypoglycemia involves administration of glucose. Usually this is done by intravenous injection. Giving a quickly absorbed source of sugar (syrup, honey, or jam) by mouth may be effective. Care should be taken when giving any substance by mouth to a dog that is seizing or unconscious as the substance may be inhaled into the lungs instead of being swallowed.

"Any underlying cause of the hypoglycemia should be corrected if possible. Surgery is recommended in many cases of insulinoma. Medication is helpful in preventing low blood glucose in some patients. Dietary management usually entails frequent small meals consisting of food that is high in protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates. Paradoxically, frequent administration of simple sugars may be counterproductive as this often stimulates insulin production. This lowers blood glucose and may precipitate a hypoglycemic episode." This would be true in non-diabetics only, because those with diabetes have lost the capability to produce enough insulin; the only way to get on the road to correcting diabetic hypoglycemia is to start with giving a quick source of sugar.

It's interesting to note that the doctor talks about glucose in a blood sample degrading with time; this would tend to say that the testing done where a hospital or clinic has its own "in house" equipment would be more accurate in a true picture of blood glucose than one who needs to send the blood samples out to an outside lab.

Dr. Mike talks about it too:


"It is important to note that blood sugar levels drop pretty rapidly in blood
once it is drawn unless serum is promptly separated from the cells.
Sometimes blood that is separated in serum separator tubes will still
undergo a loss of glucose, since contact with cells can sometimes still
occur in these tubes."

He continues with a good discussion of complex carbohydrates vs simple carbs:

"How long does it take a complex carbohydrate to turn into the sugar he needs?

"It takes a while, since carbohydrates are pretty much broken down into
disaccharides and monosaccharides to be absorbed into the digestive tract.
The advantage of complex carbohydrates is slower absorbtion which
theoretically leads to more efficient utilization. The idea is to make
glycogen (the form that the body stores sugar in) so that glucose is
available in times of need. When he is actually having a seizure due to
hypoglycemia it is much better to use simple sugars to provide the glucose
he needs --- corn syrup, sugar syrups (almost any pancake syrup), honey,
fruit juices and sugar solutions."

Even though this is not about diabetic hypoglycemia, the same is true for giving a source of sugar first, followed by food when there's a diabetic low or hypo.

Again, neither of these articles are about diabetic hypoglycemia, but the diabetic hypos and lows have a lot in common with hypos and lows from other causes and it looks like we might be able to learn something from them too.


01-06-2009, 09:42 PM
With a low the signs I will see is her walking with head down and a funny look about her, she never walks with her head down this particular way.

Also I caught that when we were in the car, she was sitting and sorta leaning hard into the seat with that same look.