|Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
What is hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia in a diabetic is often referred to as insulin reaction.
In diabetes mellitus, hypoglycemia is the condition of having a glucose
(blood sugar) level that is too low to effectively fuel the body's blood
cells usually resulting from to much insulin circulating in the bloodstream.
A good range of blood sugar in an animal is approximately 70 to 150 mg/dl
(milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood). Blood sugar levels under
70 are too low and are considered dangerous in a diabetic pet because unfortunately
our pets can't talk and say I am feeling woozy and then proceed to the
fridge and get a glass of orange juice like a human diabetic could. When
blood glucose levels drop below 60 mg/dl, some animals will exhibit
symptoms of shakiness, unsteady walking, trembling lip, etc. At this
stage administration of karo syrup, pancake syrup or some fast acting
carbohydrate and you should see a quick recovery. Below 20 mg/dl, the brain
is seriously impaired and the animal will often lose consciousness,
but unfortunately some animals display no visible signs of hypoglycemia.
Permanent brain changes and death can result if emergency treatment
for advanced hypoglycaemia is not given.
An insulin reaction is an emergency, and it needs prompt attention and
the immediate administration of glucose. Administer karo syrup, icing,
pancake syrup, etc some quick form of glucose immediately.
If the pet cannot swallow; administer by rubbing it on the gums in
the mouth and it will be absorbed.
What causes hypoglycemia?
too much medication (error in dosage)
a missed meal
a delayed meal
vomiting of the meal
too little food eaten as compared to the amount of insulin given
strenuous exercise(chasing a squirrel around the yard for an hour)
taking certain medications (bactrim, etc)
stress (though this can also raise glucose)
What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia?
trembling lip (Queenie's bottom lip quivers)
stumbling, staggering, clumsy or jerky body movements
difficulty paying attention, or confusion
excessive sleepiness and lethargy
What do I do now that my furchild had a hypoglycemia attack?
You need to contact your veterinarian immediately for adjustment in
the insulin doseage.
A full blood glucose curve should be done to determine how low the
level of glucose is falling to in the bloodstream.
Some owner's firshand accounts of hypoglycemia in their pets!
From Bonita and Ljuba (diabetic dog)
Regarding hypo's - last week one night, Ljuba didn't come to greet
me when I came home from an exercise class ... she just stayed on her pillow
on the floor in the family room.
In response to whether she had been out at all in the hour I had been
gone, hubby replied she hadn't moved. I carried her outside, put her down
and she wouldn't move!!! Now I knew for sure something was wrong.
A quick blood test revealed a 32 (!!) Thankfully, I know my gadget is 20-22
lower than my vets and I send a "thank you" kiss to the person who gave
me this little edge.
In retrospect, I realize that Ljuba probably didn't want to move for
fear of falling on her face.
I offered her some of her food, which she quickly scarfed down - and
then some more til she had eaten aprox 1/4 to 1/2 of a regular meal.
Then I kept a close eye on her. In 30 minutes she was up to 80 and in another
30 minutes, she was at 110.
I probably overfed (over-reacted), cause she was high in the morning.
Although this time her numbers were very low, this scenario, unfortunately,
is quite common in our household in the evening. Meaning that Ljuba uses
her insulin in the evening differently than the morning. Go figure
- same dog, same food, same insulin (although a reduced dose).
Ljuba also sends a signal when she feels that drop - she runs into
the family room and sits next to Greg's recliner for a moment ... making
eye contact with me, if I'm on the couch. Then she runs to the water
dish we keep in the family room and gets a big drink. This is my signal
to do a quick test and offer a snack.
From Rhonda and Missy (diabetic dog)
Missy had a hypo at 3 am in the morning. I just had checked her all
seemed ok went to lay back down and I heard this noise, I flicked on the
light and she was in a seizure. I ran for the Karo and gave a little on
the gums a little at a time within seconds she was ok. I then gave her
a little food. I'm home all the time as I do not work, Missy runs low usually
never high. I watch her closely, when Missy gets to low when she stands
her back end sorta sways a little like she is off balance I then give her
a cookie and that seems to do the trick. I wouldn't use Karo inless she
was really wobbly and had a hard time standing or if some food didnt help
because I'm home here to watch. Missy can run into the 40's with no signs
of hypo. I do not home test only urine so she goes for her curves every
6 weeks. I don't think there is a magic number when to give Karo because
each pet reacts different. Missy is ok at 40 where another pet at 40 could
be in a seizure. Our own judgment is our best guide because we know our
pets and were so in tune to them.
From Edward Murray and Anna (diabetic dog)
I also look at the clinical signs, rather than the BG numbers.
Each pet will act differently, but typically, the way things work when
they are hypo is that they first are in a desperate need of food. They
know they are going low. Then if they stay low long enough, they will either
start staggering, or more often, they will start staring blankly. They
lose their vision.
As long as they are not in a seizure, it seems a good rule is to try
to feed them something like a dog biscuit or their regular food and watch
them carefully. Food takes almost an hour to be digested so the effect
is not going to be immediate, but if you have caught it soon enough, this
should be okay.
However, if it obvious that things are getting worse, they fall down
or go into a seizure, then it is time for the Karo. By rubbing it on their
gums, it is absorbed immediately by the body. I know from a recent experience
that at least not all cats will respond to Karo. For some, it seems that
maple syrup or honey is needed. I have not heard of this being true in
dogs. And of course, you are the second person I have heard of using icing!
Again, watching the clinical signs of what is happening, I would try
to give as little Karo as is necessary to keep them from going lower. I
do this with Anna in small doses by sticking my finger in the Karo and
rubbing that on her gums until it is clear that she is coming up.
As soon as she is coming up, I stop the Karo and feed.
Karo will send the BG's shooting up, but the effect wears off quickly
so you want to get food in them as soon as they are willing to eat and
not showing signs of deteriorating. As Rhonda said, we are each probably
in the best position to judge this because we know our guys probably better
else. And the BG's are just a guide.
At the low end of the scale, the meters are set to read low by about
20 points to try to prevent accidental hypo incidents. Further, the capillary
blood we get for BG's will also read low by about the same amount. So when
you see a reading of 50, this in fact may be a true BG of 90. They won't
start going hypo until they are under 60 in most cases.
The specific answers are that Karo acts almost instantly, food takes
about an hour to show up in the BGs and it is the clinical signs, not the
BG that are important in managing a hypo incident. Food is whole lot better
than Karo if they are not in a seizure or clearly deteriorating. The amount
of Karo is as little as you can give them and still reverse the symptoms.
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2006
I am writing this to let you know that this can happen to any one at
any time. I don't know if I miss measured the insulin this morning,
the heat, the food mix, or maybe everything. But 1.5 hours
post shot I noticed she had started hypoing. Of course the
Karo was missing in action, so I had to use sugar. Poor thing had
her gums sanded with sugar and water. I don't know how low she got
as I didn't get the meter out until I was sure she was recovering, but
her BG started coming up and I got on with my day.
This is the first time in over two years (dx 2/04) this has happened.
I have always been happy that she was easy to manage and I hope this isn't
the start of some rough times, but we will handle it if it is.
Note from Judy
Go get your bottle of karo syrup(corn syrup) and try opening the lid
right now to make sure that it is not stuck because you never know when
your pet's blood glucose might drop to low!!!!