Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

May Newsletter

Insulinoma

An insulinoma is a tumor of the pancreas that produces too much insulin. Insulin is responsible for the cells’ uptake of sugar, so excessive insulin causes low blood sugar since the cells are using the body’s glucose. Many animals with this tumor can present with seizures, weakness, collapse, muscle spasms, or lethargy due to periodic low blood sugar.

Other potential causes of low blood sugar include infection, malnutrition or not eating, xylitol toxicity, and insulin overdosage in diabetic patients.

Insulinomas are diagnosed by clinical signs, multiple readings of low blood sugar, and measuring insulin levels. These particular tumors are very difficult to detect with radiographs and ultrasound.

There are treatments for insulinoma. Surgical removal is often the best option. Unfortunately, this can be risky as it can lead to diabetes or other pancreas related problems. Medical management is an option in some cases. There are medications available (including glucocorticoids) that can help control the activity of the insulin.

One of the most important factors in treatment is diet. Dogs with insulinomas should eat a diet of high protein and fat with fewer simple sugars and more complex carbohydrates. They should eat 4 to 6 times per day, small portions.

Insulinoma can be difficult to diagnose, but it is treatable. If you have any questions regarding this condition, please do not hesitate to ask!