Hyperkalemia in dogs is caused by abnormally high blood levels of potassium. Because of the danger of potentially deadly irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia) and other complications of extreme hyperkalemia, it can be a serious health concern. Hyperkalemia in dogs is usually due to decreased renal excretion of potassium. Renal failure, urinary tract obstruction or rupture or hypoaldosteronism can lead to the decrease of potassium excretion.
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Vague or general symptoms mimicking many other medical issues can be seen in hyperkalemic dogs. A dog experiencing hyperkalemia may appear uncomfortable or seem uneasy.
Lethargy and Weakness
Muscle weakness and lethargy can also be linked to hyperkalemia. Look for instability while standing or difficulty rising.
Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat is another indication. In most cases, the heart rate will be slower than normal.
Hyperventilation, usually caused by metabolic acidosis, is a symptom. This condition is predominately caused by low blood pH. When hyperventilating, the dog will breathe faster and/or deeper than is required.
Abdominal pain is also associated with hyperkalemia. Along with darkening of the skin and high blood sugar, this can be seen as a result of Addison's disease. Addison's disease is a disorder of the adrenal gland and is often an underlying cause of hyperkalemia.
Bradycardia is a disorder of the heart rate, causing it to beat too slow. Bradycardia is associated with severe hyperkalemia. Veterinary attention is required immediately. In some cases, sudden death can occur without any warning signs.
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