Hypoglycemia Quick Reference! by Melissa: PRINT THIS OUT
Medical Data: Hypoglycemic Episodes
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a dangerous
effect of overdosing insulin. Too much insulin triggers the body
to continue processing glucose, ultimately sending blood glucose
(BG) levels dangerously low. Also known as insulin shock, hypoglycemia
can be a life-threatening and possibly fatal condition. First
aid at home can be life saving.
Home testing the BG
levels in your cat is highly recommended because
of the increased certainty that comes with knowing a precise BG
level, though many others find it unnecessary in a regulated cat.
While home testing was once a topic of much contention, veterinary research supports home testing and knowledgable vets recommend it.
These guidelines are not intended to replace
the advice given by your veterinarian. It is very important that
you discuss any and all treatment options with your cats
physician BEFORE an event has occurred.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia: [in
order of ascending severity]
hunger / complete disinterest in food
(yowling, walking in circles, hiding, etc.)
This list is by no means exhaustive; cats have
also been known to be very sleepy, drool, vomit, or have glassy
eyes. Be aware of behavior from your cat that is uncommon, but don't
fret every time your pet gives you a single funny look.
During a hypoglycemic attack you must stay
calm. You must work quickly, but carefully. Your goal is to
bring the blood glucose back up to a safe level, continue to observe
your pet, and contact the vet.
Immediate oral application of a glucose solution
such as corn syrup (Karo), maple syrup, or honey will alleviate
this condition. The pet doesn't need to actually swallow, glucose
will be absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth.
To apply, rub the solution on the gums or place
it underneath the tongue. In a comatose animal, this is important
so to prevent obstruction of the airway in the impaired animal.
Additionally, watch your fingers!
The blood glucose-raising effects of the syrup will last only for
a short time. Therefore, following this emergency measure, food
should be provided. If the insulin is long lasting or if the hypoglycemia
is severe, the effects of the syrup will wear off and the the hypoglycemia
may return. Continue observing your pet, and give syrup or syrup
and food as needed.
Guidelines for Treatment
Mild hypoglycemia: If your
pet's bg is only slightly low, you may often be able to treat
the hypoglycemia by feeding your cat some of its normal food.
Should your cat refuse, try offering some treats.
Moderate hypoglycemia: Syrup
should be given, either alone, or combined with food. Syrup can
be mixed in with wet food or drizzled over dry food. The syrup
will help bring the bg up quickly, and the food will help keep
the bg elevated for a longer period of time. Most cats need about
one tablespoon of syrup. If your cat won't eat it, rub it on the
gums and inside of the cheeks. You need to observe your pet for
several hours to make sure the hypoglycemia does not happen again.
Severe hypoglycemia: If your
pet is severely hypoglycemic, especially if it is having seizures
or unconscious, you must give corn syrup immediately. Carefully
rub small amounts of syrup on the cheeks and gums. Do not put
a lot of liquid in the pet's mouth, and be sure the pet does not
choke. Do not stick your fingers inside the teeth of a seizuring
pet - you may get bitten. Then, call the vet.
After the episode: Whenever
a pet has a hypoglycemic attack, you should contact your veterinarian.
Future doses of insulin may need to be reduced until a proper
insulin dose adjustment can be made. Making the proper adjustment
will probably be based on the results of a blood glucose curve.
A cat could be fine one moment, and hypo the next.
In an emergency, you don't want to be searching for this information,
or searching for sugar. Print the emergency
treatment information and keep a supply of glucose available
where ever you pet is, and especially be thoughtful on trips or
when leaving the house. When leaving your pet
with a sitter, be especially concientious to go over these rules,
and leave the glucose available on the counter.
How to keep a glucose supply:
- Packets of honey can be slipped inside
a purse, in the car, in a drawer
- Glucose solutions can be purchased at the pharmacist
- Tubes of cake decorating gel
- Syringes filled with corn syrup
Trust your instincts: If you are at all concerned
that your cat is hypoglycemic, especially if the cat is shivering
or worse, give sugar! Temporary hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
will not harm your cat. Hypoglycemia KILLS.
Always ask your vet for information that is specific
to your pet.