Metabolic Acidosis In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

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Metabolic acidosis in dogs is a condition that happens when there’s an excessive level of acidity in the blood. If this happens for a long time, it can cause major problems in dogs’ bodies, including poor heart function and a loss of minerals in the bones.

This is almost always a secondary factor caused by another condition, such as shock or diabetes. Veterinarians can detect it by taking a dog’s blood test. They test the pH of the blood and, generally, if the pH levels are lower than 7.35, it’s diagnosed as metabolic acidosis.

If the acid levels in the blood are too high, then dogs may require emergency treatment to bring the condition under control, as it’s potentially life-threatening. If you see the signs of metabolic acidosis or one of the conditions that causes it, then you must consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for metabolic acidosis in dogs.

Symptoms Of Metabolic Acidosis In Dogs

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The symptoms of metabolic acidosis in dogs can vary depending on the severity of the conditions. Dogs with mild cases may present no signs at all, while dogs with severe cases can face life-threatening symptoms.

Other times, dogs may show signs of the underlying condition that’s causing metabolic acidosis, in which case, symptoms can vary significantly.

Here are some of the most common signs of metabolic acidosis in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abnormal breathing (unusually rapid or deep breaths)
  • Arrhythmia
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Coma

Causes Of Metabolic Acidosis In Dogs

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There are three main reasons for metabolic acidosis to develop in dogs.

The first is that an affected dog’s body produces more acidic compounds than normal. The second is that the dog’s body doesn’t excrete enough of these acidic compounds. The third is that there is a drop in the amount of alkali or base compounds, which neutralize acid.

There are several underlying conditions that can cause one of these three things to happen. Here are a few of the factors that can lead to metabolic acidosis in dogs:

  • Poisoning (alcohol, ibuprofen, antifreeze, etc.)
  • Excessive diarrhea
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Diabetes
  • Starvation
  • Urinary or intestinal tract blockage
  • Shock
  • Seizures
  • Excessive exercise
  • Heart or respiratory failure

Treatment For Metabolic Acidosis In Dogs

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The treatment for metabolic acidosis in dogs often focuses on the underlying cause in addition to the high blood acid levels. Intravenous fluids are often given to correct the acid imbalance, and some dogs with mild cases are able to go home after a brief treatment.

Others must be hospitalized until they are stable. Sometimes medication is given to correct the imbalance, but this can be risky, as it may result in overcompensation and cause excessive alkali, which is the opposite condition.

Treatment for the underlying causes varies. Starvation may be corrected with dietary changes. Poisoning and diabetes may need to be treated with dialysis. Kidney disease, heart failure, or respiratory failure may be addressed with certain medications. Vets will treat other causes accordingly.

If your vet diagnoses your dog with this condition, follow their instructions for care closely, and always keep up with follow-up vet visits.

Has your dog ever suffered from metabolic acidosis? What was the cause? Let us know in the comments below!