Hypoglycemia is the lower than normal sugar levels in the blood. Sometimes also known as Exertional Hypoglycemia and Sugar Fits, this condition is often associated with diabetes and overdose of insulin.
Glucose is the main source of energy for the body and is obtained by the breakdown of carbohydrates. The main sources of dietary carbohydrates are the starches and sugars that come from plants. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the cells and tissues of dogs. When there is more glucose in circulation (from dietary intake) than is needed for the dog’s energy demands, it is stored in liver and muscle cells in the form of glycogen, for future use. If the liver and muscle cells become saturated, glucose is converted into fat and stored as adipose tissue. Circulating blood sugar levels depend upon the amount of glucose that is: 1) taken in through a dog’s diet, 2) produced by the liver from glycogen stores, and 3) utilized by the dog’s body. Abnormalities in any of those areas can contribute to hypoglycemia.
Other than diabetes and overdose of insulin, there are other conditions that can cause low levels of blood sugar in the body. In most cases, hypoglycamia is not a condition in itself, rather it is an indication of some other underlying condition.
The brain requires constant supply of glucose and since it can not store or produce glucose for itself, a deficiency in blood sugar directly affects the brain, making hypoglycemia a potentially life-threatening condition which must be addressed immediately.
The common symptoms of hypoglycemia include
Loss of appetite (anorexia)
Visual instability, such as blurred vision
Disorientation and confusion – may show an apparent inability to complete basic routine tasks
Weakness, low energy, loss of consciousness
These symptoms are not specific to hypoglycemia and may be a result of some other condition. To confirm low blood sugar, it is best to test glucose levels in blood while these symptoms are apparent.