Metabolic Acidosis In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

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Metabolic acidosis in dogs is a condition that happens when there is 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. Metabolic acidosis is almost always a secondary factor caused by an underlying condition, such as shock or diabetes. The condition can be spotted by taking a dog’s blood test. Veterinarians can test the PH of the blood, and generally, if the PH levels are lower than 7.35, it is diagnosed as metabolic acidosis. If the acid levels in the blood are too high, dogs may require emergency treatment to bring the metabolic acidosis under control, as it is a potentially life-threatening condition. If you see the signs of metabolic acidosis or one of the conditions that causes it, you should 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 metabolic acidosis may present no signs at all, while dogs with severe metabolic acidosis can face life-threatening symptoms. Other times, dogs may show signs of the underlying condition that is 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 metabolic acidosis 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.

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Treatment for the underlying causes of metabolic acidosis 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. Other causes will be treated accordingly. If your dog suffers from metabolic acidosis, follow your veterinarian’s 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!