Metabolic Acidosis in Dogs
The lungs and kidneys help to maintain a delicate balance of acid and alkali in the blood, both normal components of a healthy blood supply. A condition of metabolic acidosis occurs when there is an increase in the levels of acid in the blood, which ultimately accumulates to abnormal levels in the body, causing various problems. This can occur due to loss of bicarbonate (alkali); acid production by increased metabolism; excess acid introduction into the body through an external source like ethylene glycol (resulting in ethylene toxicity); or by the kidney’s inability to excrete acid, which it normally does to maintain its level. Metabolic acidosis can occur in dogs of any age, size, gender, or breed.
Symptoms and Types
Symptoms can vary considerably, especially if your dog is concurrently suffering from other health problems like diabetes or kidney disease. The most common symptoms that you may notice in a dog that is suffering from metabolic acidosis include:
- Depression (especially if acidosis is severe)
- Rapid and deep breathing
- Ethylene glycol (antifreeze ingestion)
- Salicylate (aspirin)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Severe shock
You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition (such as suspected antifreeze ingestion, or use of aspirin to treat your dog). The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are causing secondary symptoms.
Your veterinarian will then perform a thorough physical examination on your dog. For the diagnosis of metabolic acidosis, a compete blood chemical profile will be performed to check the levels of acid and alkali in the body. The next step is to find the underlying cause of the metabolic acidosis in order to treat that problem along with correcting the acid level. Therefore, other test panels may also be used along with the blood chemical profile.
The treatment of metabolic acidosis is usually twofold. It involves the correction of the disturbed acid-base balance as well as addressing any underlying diseases, such as diabetes and/or kidney failure. Your veterinarian will give suitable fluid therapy in order to correct the acid balance. If the acidosis is mild, your dog will be able to go home after a short treatment. However, in cases of severe or complicated acidosis, your dog may need to be hospitalized for few days until it has stabilized. Diagnosis of the underlying problem/disease causing the acidosis is crucial for preventing future episodes of metabolic acidosis.
Living and Management
After returning from the hospital, keep a close eye on your dog for few days. If your dog starts behaving in a depressed manner, or is breathing rapidly even while at rest, check with your veterinarian. This is especially important for dogs dealing with some chronic health problems like diabetes, in which the next episode of metabolic acidosis may occur at any time.
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