Acute Hyperglycemia in Diabetic Dogs: When To Call The Vet

Posted on: 8 June 2021

Dogs diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to experience a sudden bout of high blood sugar known as acute hyperglycemia. This condition can quickly become a life-threatening emergency. If your dog is diagnosed with this condition, it is important to know the signs of acute hyperglycemia and how to manage it. 

Signs of Acute Hyperglycemia

Any dog with diabetes will experience sustained, high blood sugar levels if you are not careful to administer their insulin and keep them on a carbohydrate-restricted diet. However, an acute bout of hyperglycemia is when the blood sugar spikes very high, very quickly. This can happen if diabetic dogs are not given insulin or if they eat something really high in sugar. It can also occur as a reaction to certain drugs or due to pancreatic failure. 

The key signs of acute high blood sugar in dogs include:

  • Sweet-smelling breath
  • Confusion
  • Relentless thirst
  • Sudden, relentless hunger
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

Treating Acute Hyperglycemia

While your first instinct may be to reach for your dog's insulin and inject it, this is not the best approach. Dogs suffering from acute hyperglycemia may accidentally end up with hypoglycemia, low blood sugar if you lower their blood sugar level too quickly with insulin. This dramatic change can be even more serious.

So, rather than administer insulin straight away, call your vet and explain what's happening. The vet may tell you to give your dog a small amount of insulin. But this depends on your dog's size, how high the vet suspects their blood sugar may be, and how quickly you're able to get the dog to the vet.

Once you do have the dog at the vet's office, the vet can measure their blood sugar levels and then slowly work on bringing their blood sugar levels down with small, intermittent doses of insulin. The vet will monitor your dog's progress and may administer IV fluids, sedatives, and other medications as needed.

After your dog's blood sugar is restored to a normal range, they should be able to return home. However, your vet will probably give you care instructions to help ensure this issue does not occur again. These instructions may include a modified diet and insulin administered on a different schedule.

Acute hyperglycemia can be a scary thing to experience with your dog. But with a good vet in your corner, you can get through it. Contact a local veterinary clinic, like Angel Pet Hospital, for more information.