Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Guinea Pigs

Blood biochemistry: glucose

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Molly Varga


  • Physiological plasma levels of glucose are maintained by glucagon (raises glucose) and insulin (lowers glucose) to ensure that a continuous supply of glucose is available as an energy source for cell metabolism.
  • Absorbed via small intestine.
  • Stored as glycogen in liver and muscle and liberated when plasma levels fall.
  • Other hormones can raise plasma glucose by increasing gluconeogenesis or glycogenolysis or increasing/decreasing utilization.
  • Any condition which affects these hormones will influence plasma glucose levels.
  • Hypoinsulinism (diabetes mellitus) → hyperglycemia.
  • Epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, growth hormone, progesterone → increase glucose levels.


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  • Dextrostix used with whole blood only, gives a semi-quantitative indicator of gross changes in plasma glucose.
  • In-house glucometers (calibrated for dogs and cats) may be used but are not calibrated for rabbits.

Specific assays

  • Glucose oxidase reaction - results said to approach true glucose value under reliable laboratory conditions.
  • Ortho-toluidine - also measures galactose and mannose, but these are considered insignificant; simple, fast test.

Non-specific assays

  • Nelson-Somogyi and Folin-Wu - may give slightly higher than true levels, the former more specific than the latter.
  • Ferricyanide - approaches true glucose level.

Technique (intrinsic) limitations

  • Some laboratory methods affected by presence of enzyme inhibitors/activators.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M & Harcourt-Brown S (2012) Clinical values of blood glucose measurement in pet rabbits. Vet Rec 170 (26), 674 PubMed.
  • Benson K G & Paul-Murphy J (1999) Clinical pathology of the domestic rabbit: acquisition and interpretation of samples. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 2 (3), 539-552 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Varga M (2014) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. 2nd edn. Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier, London.
  • Wesche P (2014) Clinical Pathology. In: BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine. Eds: Meredith A & Lord B. BSAVA, Gloucester, UK.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M & Harcourt-Brown S (2012) Clinical Value of Blood Glucose Measurement in Pet Rabbits. Vet Rec 170, 26.
  • Fudge A M (1999) Laboratory Medicine. Avian and Exotic Pets. W B Saunders Co. ISBN 0721 676 790.