What is Blood Sugar?
Blood sugar is, as the term suggests the level of sugar or glucose in the blood. These glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day and are strictly controlled by hormones so that they are maintained within a certain range. Catabolic hormones such as glucagon and catecholamines help to increase blood sugar levels, while the anabolic hormone insulin helps reduce blood sugar levels.
When these hormone systems are not functioning properly, blood sugar levels are not regulated and this can be incredibly dangerous for your pet. High blood sugar levels are referred to as hyperglycemia and when this is a chronic problem, it is known as diabetes. Low levels of blood sugar or Hypoglycemia can occur when the pancreas secretes too much insulin and is often a result of insulin treatment in diabetic pets.
While high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is most certainly dangerous, the effects tend to be more long term resulting in conditions such as blindness, neuropathy and kidney disease if left untreated.
Hypoglycemia, on the other hand is more immediately life threatening and if levels are too low, every cell in the body becomes starved of life-supplying sugars. Symptoms of low blood sugar may include decreased heartbeat, slow breathing, weakness, disorientation, seizures and loss of consciousness.
Today, blood sugar levels can be monitored either by your pet’s veterinarian, or with the use of home glucometers.