Insulinomas in dogs usually occur in middle aged to older dogs and can affect any breed.
However, they do seem to be more common with mixed breeds and can be absolutely devastating.
They can cause general weakness to suddenly occur in your pet and attack the hind legs especially hard.
However they can also cause the lack of coordination, trembling, or extreme nervousness.
However, if is extreme, the pupils of your dog’s eyes will be dilated and this could easily result in the loss of their sight.
It can also cause perhaps the most devastating of conditions; seizures.
Insulinomas in dogs are malignant tumors, but this is no normal tumor.
It is a tumor of your dog’s pancreas and is derived from beta cells that secrets insulin.
The beta cells in your dog secrete insulin in a response to an increase in blood glucose.
This reaction increases insulin levels so that the blood glucose levels drop back down to normal.
As a result, the secretion of insulin is stopped.
The pancreas in your dog contains a collection of cells that are referred to as islets of
Langerhans, which are irregular clusters of endocrine cells that are scattered throughout the tissue of the pancreas.
When everything is normal, these islets contain four cell types: alpha, beta, delta, and F cells.
Each of these cells produces a very specific hormone in your dog. The beta cells are the cells that produce the insulin and maintain their blood sugar.
When Insulinomas in dogs are present, excessive amounts of insulin are released into their bloodstream and severely affects the blood sugar concentration.
Your dog’s normal blood sugar concentration range is somewhere between 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
When they fall below this range, hypoglycemia develops and it can cause several different symptoms that will alert you that something is very wrong with your pet.
Insulinomas in dogs can cause a wide range of symptoms to occur in your dog, and the first signs that you will see will be your dog becoming very weak.
This weakness generally, but not always, will affect the hind legs.
But this weakness will not end there.
As the blood sugar concentrations continue to fall, your pet may collapse, again usually in their hind areas, but they can also just flat out faint which is a condition referred to as syncope.
They may also start to experience seizures, but prior to the seizures, they will experience a loss of coordination that will lead to muscle tremors as well as very unusual behavior.
This unusual behavior will most likely be in the form of suddenly becoming very nervous of anyone or anything, and they may also start to shake uncontrollably.
But the two most serious and chilling symptoms that you will see are seizure and dilation.
If you see any of the other signs watch their eyes very close, and if you see them become extremely dilated, they may be right on the edge of losing their sight permanently.
At this point, immediate emergency care is needed to bring the blood sugar levels back to normal, or to react as if it is a seizure.
Seizure is the next chilling symptom, and if your dog does experience a seizure, you should immediately give them a sugar solution.
The most effective is Karo syrup, but sugar water will also work.
If you are a dog owner, one rule you should be to always have Karo syrup on hand just in case as you never know when you will need it.
When you give dog the syrup or sugar water, it will be extremely important not to pour it directly into their mouth.
The reason for this is that their natural reflex for swallowing is severely impaired by the seizure.
This will be a frightening experience for both of you but you must be prepared and remain calm as your dog is counting on you more now than ever.
If your pour the solution while this reflex is happening, aspiration of their lungs may occur, so you must be as patient as you can be.
Dip you fingers into the syrup or solution and rub it on their gums and inside of their mouth.
Repeat this 3 to 4 times if necessary, but stay calm; most dogs will respond to this within 30 to 120 seconds as it is very effective.
Insulinomas in dogs have numerous treatments, but you are most likely still very upset and your dog is still dazed.
Once they have responded, feed them a meal as high in protein as you can possibly find and then contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
The next step in treatment, once diagnosed, is that your veterinarian may also give them a glucose solution.
From this point the treatments will turn to how to correct the Insulinomas in dogs and this will usually involve surgery.
If the tumor has not spread, surgery to remove the tumor will immediately cure this condition. However, in most cases, it has spread and removing the entire tumor may not be possible.
There other treatments that can be given, but the most effective will be a long term dietary change.
Diazoxide may be given as it inhibits the secretion of insulin as well as stimulating the liver, but it is extremely expensive and is not readily available in all parts of the world.
Alloxan may also be used as it is very toxic to this form of tumor, but it can also severely damage your dog’s liver, leaving the best avenue for treatment in the diet.
Your dog will have to be placed on a diet that is high in protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to help minimize any future attacks.
They will need a constant source of calories several times a day.
It is recommended that you feed them both canned and dry foods in small amounts several times during the day.
Soft moist foods should be avoided, as they contain simple sugars that can stimulate the secretions.
Insulinomas in dogs are very serious, but understanding the developing symptoms and than being prepared can save your dog’s life.
Once stabilized and controlled, your dog can lead a normal life again with light moderation.
You will have to limit their exercise so it does not stimulate the insulin secretions and totally eliminate any foods that contain simple sugars.
But if their diet is high in protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates, and you feed them several times a day, you can have your old dog back and help them enjoy the remainder of their life with you.