Low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, is a condition that is very familiar to many as a human problem, but it can also occur in animals such as cats and dogs. The underlying cause of the problem can be anything from a congenital disease to a reaction to medication. Low blood sugar is particularly damaging to the brain of the cat, which can only function properly with a ready source of glucose to fuel it. To treat low blood sugar in cats will first require raising the blood sugar to acceptable levels by providing carbohydrate. But in the longer term the underlying cause must be treated and any damage done by the attack also treated.
Blood sugar must be kept at appropriate levels in the cat’s body for a wide variety of functions. Normally this is performed by a pair of hormones doing opposite jobs. Insulin is aimed at lowering the levels of sugar in the cat’s blood by storing it as glycogen in tissues like the liver and muscles, for example. Glucagon, on the other hand, raises the blood sugar level by making available the glycogen to bloodstream in the form of glucose. If a cat is suffering from a congenital disease this may cause the blood sugar level to drop too low for normal functioning to continue. Various drugs can also have this effect, such as those given for treatment of diabetes.
The brain of the cat is massively hungry for energy. This can only be satisfied by glucose. So if the blood sugar level drops too low the brain is likely to be impaired in its normal functioning. The cat may then suffer seizures and loss of consciousness. Brain damage can be the result in severe cases. The problem could even prove fatal for some cats.
Other possible symptoms include dizziness, sweating, and palpitations. If glucagon is the source of the problem then nausea and vomiting can be the result and the cat will also be hungry and weak. Various other potential problems to look out for include restlessness, staggering, and shivering. There can even be problems with the cat’s eyesight.
To treat low blood sugar in cats the first thing to do is to get their blood sugar level back up to normal levels by providing them with some carbohydrate. After that any damage that has been done by the attack can receive treatment and the investigation into the underlying cause of the problem can be carried out. Further treatment will then be dependent on what the underlying cause is found to be.