What happens when a dog’s blood sugar is too high? Here’s What to Do Next

Causes of High Blood Sugar in Dogs

High blood sugar can indicate one of the following issues:

  • Diabetes mellitus, caused by a loss of pancreatic beta cells, which leads to decreased production of insulin, rending the dog unable to process sugar sufficiently.
  • Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, which can damage insulin-producing cells, inhibiting the dog’s ability to process sugar sufficiently.
  • Hyperadrenocorticism: Excess levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, affecting the dog’s metabolic process.
  • Reaction to certain medications such as corticosteroids.
  • Having just eaten, or eaten human food with high sugar levels.
  • Exertion, excitement, or stress.
  • How could this disorder have happened?

    If a diabetic dog undergoes a stress event of some kind, the body secretes stress hormones that interfere with appropriate insulin activity. Examples of stress events that can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis include infection, inflammation, and heart disease.

    Treatment of High Blood Sugar in Dogs

    Treatment will vary significantly depending upon the diagnosis.

  • Diabetes mellitus will be treated with a combination of insulin and diet modification designed to optimize body weight.
  • Pancreatitis will be treated through hospitalization, giving the dog analgesics, antiinflammatories and intravenous fluids for several days. While withholding oral fluids and food in order to allow to pancreas to reset was once advised, low fat nourishing food is now recommended as part of the initial treatment. Pancreatitis can be life threatening, however most dogs will recover without long-term consequences.
  • Hyperadrenocorticism will be treated with one of several drugs designed to lower the body’s production of cortisol. The veterinarian will prescribe the drug that best fits the severity of your dog’s condition. Most cases of hyperadrenocorticism are caused by a pituitary tumor. Fewer are caused by an adrenal gland tumor in which radiation or surgery may be necessary.
  • For high blood sugar caused by reaction to medication, the use of the medication will be stopped if appropriate and an appropriate substitute will be found.
  • For temporary causes such as just having eaten, having eaten a high-sugar meal, exertion, excitement or stress, no treatment is needed, and the blood sugar will return to normal. In the case of feeding inappropriate food or causing the dog excess stress, take action to ensure this does not happen again.
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    High Blood Sugar in Dogs | Wag!