Definition of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is defined as an abnormally low level or concentration of the simple sugar, glucose, in an animal’s bloodstream. Glucose is the end product of carbohydrate digestion. Carbohydrates in food are an important and immediate source of energy for most animals. The main sources of dietary carbohydrates are the starches and sugars that come from plants. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the cells and tissues of dogs. When there is more glucose in circulation (from dietary intake) than is needed for the dog’s energy demands, it is stored in liver and muscle cells in the form of glycogen, for future use. If the liver and muscle cells become saturated, glucose is converted into fat and stored as adipose tissue. Circulating blood sugar levels depend upon the amount of glucose that is: 1) taken in through a dog’s diet, 2) produced by the liver from glycogen stores, and 3) utilized by the dog’s body. Abnormalities in any of those areas can contribute to hypoglycemia.