Low potassium, hypokalemia, can cause mild to severe symptoms, varying from lethargy, appetite loss, diarrhea and frequent urination. It's important to know the signs of hypokalemia -- especially if your dog is on dialysis, glucose or insulin -- because low blood potassium levels can become severe.
Cause of Hypokalemia
Potassium is necessary for the proper functions of muscles, nerves and enzymes, as well as maintaining proper fluid balance. When the potassium in the blood is lower than it should be, hypokalemia will occur.
Dogs who have kidney disorders or metabolic diseases may suffer low potassium, as well as dogs with chronic appetite loss, diarrhea and vomiting. Dogs who are on certain long-term antibiotics, dialysis or insulin or glucose, may also suffer low potassium levels.
Signs and Symptoms
Hypokalemia can also cause cardiac arrest, which is why you should know the signs of low blood potassium:
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Lack of appetite
- Muscle pain
- Overall weakness
Dehydration may also develop as a secondary concern if diarrhea and vomiting are not stabilized; over time, dogs may even show decreased muscle mass and weight loss.