If your dog is diagnosed with hyperglycemia, that means he's got high levels of sugar in his blood. It also could mean he's suffering from diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes. That's not the only cause of the condition, but your vet must get to the bottom of it, as untreated hyperglycemia can have serious consequences.
Hyperglycemia literally means high blood glucose. Glucose, the primary source of energy in your dog's body, is a sugar originating from carbohydrates. Normal levels of glucose in canines range between 75 and 120 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Treatment might not get a hyperglycemic dog down to the normal range, but the goal is to get blood sugar levels down to an acceptable level, below the danger range.
Any dog can develop hyperglycemia or diabetes. However, it's more common in certain breeds, including miniature and standard schnauzers, poodles, beagles, golden retrievers, cairn terriers, keeshonds, samoyeds and dachshunds. Overweight female dogs of any breed are the most vulnerable.
Diabetes, which results when the pancreas fails to produce sufficient amounts of insulin, is just one possible cause of hyperglycemia. Various types of infections can cause blood sugar levels to soar. Acute pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, is another common culprit. If your dog experiences kidney problems, hyperglycemia might result. Temporary hyperglycemia occurs right after eating or exercise and in times of stress or excitement. That's normal and shouldn't be cause for concern, unless the levels don't decrease within a short time frame.
Symptoms of hyperglycemia include constant hunger, excessive drinking and peeing, depression and wounds that don't heal. Although overweight dogs are more likely to be hyperglycemic, one symptom of the condition is weight loss even though the dog's appetite seems ravenous.
Your vet takes blood and urine samples from your dog for testing. If your dog's glucose levels are high and his insulin levels low, he's likely suffering from diabetes. High levels of certain enzymes indicate pancreatitis, as does vomiting and abdominal pain. An ultrasound or computed tomography scan can reveal changes in your dog's organs related to hyperglycemia.
Treatment depends on diagnosis. Dogs with diabetes might require once- or twice-daily insulin injections and dietary changes. Acute pancreatitis treatment requires hospitalization to stabilize the dog, including resting the organ so the animal receives no food for several days but is given intravenous saline solution. Afterward, your vet prescribes a special diet for your dog. If infection is causing the hyperglycemia, your vet might prescribe appropriate antibiotics for treatment. Renal failure can also mean a prescription diet and regular IV injections.
By Jane Meggitt
PetMD: Hyperglycemia in Dogs
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Hyperglycemia
Merck Veterinary Manual: Diabetes Mellitus
VetNext: High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia) in Dogs and Cats
WebMD: Pancreatitis in Dogs -- Symptoms and Treatments
About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.