Hyperglycemia in Puppies

Golden retrievers are one breed predisposed to hyperglycemia and diabetes.
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Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is a symptom of diabetes mellitus in dogs. Hyperglycemia is more common in older female dogs; juvenile onset hypoglycemia, which manifests during the first year of a puppy’s life, is rare but does occur. Genetic predisposition for juvenile diabetes occurs in golden retrievers and keeshonds but can affect other breeds as well. While a diagnosis of chronic hyperglycemia and diabetes means lifelong care, a puppy can lead a full and happy life.


The normal level for blood glucose in dogs is between 75 and 120 milligrams per deciliter of blood. A dog’s pancreas secretes the hormone insulin, which is responsible for blood sugar regulation. In a puppy with an underdeveloped or improperly developed pancreas, insulin production would be low or absent, resulting in increased blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. In most cases of juvenile onset diabetes, insulin injections are necessary to maintain level glucose levels.


In puppies with hyperglycemia and juvenile onset diabetes, you may notice a loss of weight despite your puppy eating just about everything you feed her. She may have been the smallest puppy in the litter. She may experience limb weakness or paralysis if glucose levels are not controlled. Other symptoms include increased thirst, increased urination, depression and cataracts. Infections may not heal well.


If your pet's suffering symptoms of hyperglycemia, visit a veterinarian immediately. Blood work and urinalysis will measure glucose and insulin levels in the blood and lipase and amylase enzymes that indicate inflammation in the pancreas. If the tests show increased glucose levels and a reduction or absence of insulin production, you and the veterinarian will sit down and establish a treatment plan for your puppy.


Treatment will depend on the amont of insulin your dog produces. For some, a change in diet may be enough to reduce blood sugar; but in most cases, insulin injections are necessary. Regular blood glucose checks are essential, and adjusting the insulin to the right dosage may take time. In order to reduce large swings in glucose levels, administer feeding times and insulin injections at the same times each day. Avoid high-glucose treats for your puppy.