Excess Chloride in the Blood in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Feb. 14, 2010

Hyperchloremia in Dogs

The condition known as hyperchloremia refers to abnormally high levels of chloride (an electrolyte) in the blood. Electrolytes play important roles within the dog's body: helping in heart and nervous system functions, fluid balance, delivery of oxygen, and much more. For every electrolyte a very delicate chemical balance is required, and each electrolyte has a specific normal range in the body.

The electrolyte chloride, for example, is responsible in part for metabolism (turning food into energy), and keeping the body's acid base balanced. Chloride exists in body with sodium (Na) and their common source is sodium chloride (NaCl or table salt). Therefore, conditions responsible for altering the levels of sodium also affect chloride levels in the body. Elevated chloride levels are usually seen in dogts suffering from kidney diseases, diabetes, or bouts of diarrhea.

Hyperchloremia is seen in both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this condition affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of sodium elevation may also exist along with those of hyperchloremia, including:

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) and consumption of water
  • Mental confusion
  • Coma
  • Seizures


  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Over administration of fluids containing NaCl at hospitals
  • Lack of access of water for long period of time
  • High water loss through urine (often seen in association with diabetes)
  • Oral ingestion of chloride (rare in dogs)


Your veterinarian will want a complete medical history of the dog from you and will conduct a complete physical examination, with routine laboratory tests: complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis.

Biochemistry profile results will show abnormally high levels of chloride, often coupled with high sodium levels, and in cases in which diabetes is also involved, blood sugar levels may be abnormal as well. Meanwhile, urinalysis will often reveal abnormalities related to kidney diseases. Laboratory tests will also demonstrate abnormalities related to any underlying disease like diabetes.


The symptoms will be treated first in order to maintain your dog's immediate health. If the dog is dehydrated, fluids will be given to balance body fluids. Treatment involves treating the underlying disease as well as correcting the levels of both chloride and sodium in the blood. Your veterinarian will select intravenous fluid to balance the levels of both of these electrolytes. If the hyperchloremia has been caused by medications, they will be discontinued immediately.

Because it is possible that the increase in chloride is being caused by an underlying physical disorder, treatment will vary depending on the final diagnosis. If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, it will be essential to resolve the problem related to it to prevent recurrence. Kidney disease, or a hormonal or endocrine disorder may require specialists, depending on the magnitude of the problem.

Living and Management

If there is no underlying diseases associated with the abnormally high chloride levels, the dog should recover completely with initial treatment. However, if something is amiss, it is important to treat the underlying disease to facilitate a speedy recovery and prevent recurrence.

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