What is hypoglycemia in dogs?

Hypoglycemia in dogs (canine hypoglycemia) is a condition which occurs when their blood sugar falls to dangerously low levels. When blood glucose level is less than 70mg/dL, your dog has hypoglycemia. However, symptoms may not start to show until their blood sugar is less than 50mg/dL. Hypoglycemia is serious, and needs to be treated right away. If you suspect that your dog has hypoglycemia, it is advisable you take them to an animal hospital for treatment before it turns out to be life threatening. Low blood sugar is often associated with diabetes and insulin overdose. However, hypoglycemia can also occur in non-diabetic dogs. Hypoglycemia is not a disease, but it is a symptom of another underlying medical problem, such as diabetes, cancer, or inflammation of the liver.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of hypoglycemia worsen when left untreated. It is important for dog owners to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia in dogs. This will help them to take their dog for a quick diagnosis and treatment that could save their life. The initial symptoms are usually a delayed response time and low energy.

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Trembling
  • Increased thirst
  • Unusual behavior
  • Loss of appetite

If your dog exhibits these symptoms, you can have their blood sugar checked to determine if it is as a result of hypoglycemia.

Causes of canine hypoglycemia

There are many causes of canine hypoglycemia. However, the most common causes of hypoglycemia in dogs is insulin overdose. Dogs with diabetes do not naturally make insulin. So, they require insulin therapy to help them control their blood sugar levels. If a dog owner accidentally gives their dog too much insulin, it may result in hypoglycemia.

Other causes of canine hypoglycemia include the following:

  • Toxicity;
  • Abnormal growth of pancreatic cells;
  • Too much exercise;
  • Reduced glucose intake as a result of malnutrition;
  • Portosystemic shunt.


Initial treatment of hypoglycemia in dogs involves increasing the blood glucose levels, so as to help the dog regain its consciousness. The dog owner can apply corn syrup or glucose under the tongue or rub it on the gums. In severe cases of canine hypoglycemia, intravenous fluid infusion will be needed. Dogs with hypoglycemia will be monitored at a hospital.


Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.