balancing act: electrolyte imbalances – part 2

Dr. Rebecca
Posted by Dr. Rebecca Jackson on Aug 30 2013



Yesterday we talked a bit about electrolytes and the role they play in keeping your pet’s body balanced and all systems functioning properly. Today, let’s discuss the signs that something is amiss, and I’ll tell you about treating the condition.


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So how do you know if your pet’s electrolytes are out of whack? Clinical signs you might see at home included vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal breathing or heart rate, weakness, anxiety, excessive drinking and urinating, inappetance and sometimes collapse. Your veterinarian can run a very quick blood test to measure the levels of these electrolytes within your pet’s blood stream, and then therapy can be instituted based on these results. Again, electrolytes are rarely used in themselves to diagnose conditions afflicting your pet, but they are integral in understanding your pets internal environment and what is causing them to be ill. First and foremost, your veterinarian is going to want to determine the cause of the imbalance.

What can be done if your pet’s electrolytes are imbalanced?

If your pet is lacking in certain electrolytes, they can be supplemented (usually via intravenous therapy) to help correct any deficiencies while your veterinarian determines the underlying cause of the deficiency.

If electrolytes are elevated, your veterinarian may need to administer agents that bind extra electrolytes to pull them out of your pet’s blood stream if there are too many running around. Once your veterinarian is able to determine the underlying cause of the imbalances, they can begin treating this underlying cause so that your pet’s body can naturally start correcting the imbalances.

As you can see, electrolytes are a very complex group of agents within your dog or cat’s body. This is a very brief and simplified explanation of their role. If you are interested in specific electrolyte imbalances, ask your veterinarian.

As you can imagine, electrolytes are important in humans and animals alike, but the balance of these electrolytes within the different species can be quite different. Not to mention the methods for correcting imbalances. Make sure you keep your vet informed about any concerns or changes in your pet’s routine. If you are thinking of adding in supplements (of any sort), make sure you speak with your vet first to make sure you pet isn’t getting too little or too much of any one substance.

Fortunately, your pet’s body is able to regulate its own electrolyte levels to maintain a very healthy state. In times of illness, this balance may be altered or affected and your pet may need your vet’s help to balance things out again. Thank goodness your furry family member has you to watch out for them! And thank goodness Petplan pet insurance helps you say yes to whatever course of treatment your family vet recommends.

To more waggin’ and purrin’. rwkj

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