Hypokalemia refers to lower than normal concentrations of potassium in the blood. A vital element to an important group of blood minerals called electrolytes, potassium functions in both cellular and electricual functions, such as in the conduction of electrical charges in the heart, nerves, and muscles.Therefore, lower levels of potassium in the bloodstream will compromise the normal functioning ability of these tissues.
Symptoms relate to the underlying cause of hypokalemia. Some of the more common ones include:
You will need to give a detailed history of your dog’s health, the onset and nature of the symptoms, and possible incidents or conditions that might have led to this condition.
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam to evaluate all body systems. Routine blood tests, including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis are important for the diagnosis of hypokalemia and its underlying cause. In chronic kidney failure patients, blood tests may reveal normochromic (hemoglobin contents of RBCs are normal), normocytic (overall hemoglobin levels are decreased), and nonregenerative (bone marrow responding inadequately to the increased demand of RBC) anemia.
Higher levels of blood urea nitrogen (waste products [urea] in the blood that are normally excreted in the urine and voided from the body) and creatinine may also be found in patients with hypokalemia due to kidney failure. Urinalysis may reveal inadequate urine concentrating ability in patients with chronic kidney failure. In diabetic patients, the urinalysis may reveal high glucose levels and ketone bodies in urine.
Abdominal X-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT-Scan), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used to diagnose the underlying cause of hypokalemia.
Your dog may need to be hospitalized if its condition is severe enough to warrant an emergency. The initial treatment includes supplementation of potassium and treatment to stabilize dangerous symptoms like irregular heart beating and paralysis of respiratory muscles. Once your dog has been stabilized, maintenance dosages of potassium will be administrated. Once diagnosed, the underlying disease can be treated to prevent another episode of hypokalemia.
Your dog's potassium levels may need to be measured every 6 to 24 hours, especially during the initial phase of treatment. Call your veterinarian if you see any change in symptom at home during treatment.
The product of protein being metabolized; can be found in blood or urine.
An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness
A medical condition involving excessive thirst
Lower levels of potassium in the blood than normal
A procedure used to get waste out of the blood when the kidneys are unable to function
The protein that moves oxygen in the blood
A condition of the blood in which normal red blood cell counts or hemoglobin are lacking.
The product of metabolism of fat; may also be referred to as bodies of ketone or ketone bodies