Your dog needs minerals such as potassium for its overall wellbeing. Your canine’s nerve health highly depends on this key mineral. An inadequate supply of this mineral can lead to weakening of your dog’s muscles. As a result, your dog may find it difficult to walk or run. Another distinctive sign is a significant drop in appetite level of your pet. You may also witness your dog to live in a depressed or a gloomy mood. You are advised to talk to your vet upon sensing problems such as weakness, and if your dog is in a “drunk” state, most of the time. In this light, is it good to administer supplements such as potassium citrate? It is a wise thing to know more on this prior to starting your dog’s treatment.

Potassium level in your dog’s blood needs to be at an optimal level. A suboptimal condition is known as hypokalemia; this denotes a marked drop in potassium level. Severity of this condition varies from one dog to another. In case of a milder level of potassium deficiency, the signs may not even show up. The same holds good for dogs living with a moderate level of potassium inadequacy. However, if your dog is down with an acute level of potassium deficiency, then the signs may start showing up.

Incidence of potassium deficiency

The onset of potassium insufficiency can be sensed by the physical activity of your canine friend. Your otherwise-active pet may tend to curl up in a corner and may lead a listless existence. This is mainly because of muscular weakness, which makes way for lethargy and tiredness / weariness. For instance, your dog may not be able to lift its head in a normal manner; your dog’s head droops and its neck is often bent. This sign is however more common among cats than in dogs. On top of these signs, your dog may slip into a state of gloominess and depression.

What triggers insufficiency of potassium?

A host of risk factors may trigger hypokalemia i.e., a reduction in blood potassium level. One of the most common causes is vomiting; this is because of a likely loss of potassium during incessant spells of vomiting. Another trigger is a likely renal dysfunction or damage of your pet’s kidneys. On a related note, your dog may develop waste disposal problems; such as constipation or difficulties to pass stools on a regular basis. In some cases, dogs may also witness chronic spells of diarrhea or discharge of watery stools.

Other leading causes for the depletion of potassium include autoimmune conditions such as diabetes mellitus, excessive use of water pills or diuretic (administered onto dogs with high level of blood pressure) as well as malnutrition. This condition needs timely treatment and administration of needful supplements. If left untreated, your dog may soon develop severe difficulties to discharge stools and may also have a lustreless coat or other skin related conditions.

How to treat low potassium levels in your canine pet?

It is important to consult with your vet if your pet develops chronic spells of weakness coupled with constipation. If the depletion of blood potassium is at an acute or at a severe level, your vet may prescribe drugs that are intravenously administered. However, the intravenous route rectifies lower potassium level almost instantly. Hence, not all dogs may handle such swift correction; canines may develop abnormal heartbeats, cardiac conditions such as tachycardia as well as arrhythmia.

It is for your vet to decide about the optimal way to correct potassium deficiency in your canine. Given the risks associated with instant correction, most vets are likely to administer a sustainable and a long-term corrective approach. This involves prescription of dietary supplements of potassium. The most widely used supplement is potassium citrate.

Safe use of potassium citrate

This potassium supplement is administered for restoring an optimal level of potassium in your pet’s blood. Vets often administer this supplement if they witness a marked depletion of this mineral in your canine friend. Also, needful care is taken to ensure the dosages are at the right level; if supplied in greater levels, your dog may soon develop a condition called hyperkalemia. This condition may leave a larger presence i.e., than what is needed or normal functioning of your canine, of potassium in your pet’s system. Hence, it is always important to administer potassium citrate at prescribed levels; else, it may lead to an oversupply of potassium.

Also, if your pet is already living with signs of a possible renal dysfunction or kidney related ailments, your vet must be informed of all such prior ailments. For example: if your dog has kidney problems, it may trigger constipation or inability to discharge stools with ease. You may also witness an altered / varying output of urine and at times, may see a discharge of darkened urine.

Those who have a canine pet needs to know that this supplement is not an over the counter (OTC) drug. So, it is highly recommended to administer this med as per the advice and guidance of a qualified vet. This med is not given to dogs with gastrointestinal motility problems as well as to pets which have chronic spells of dehydration. Also, dogs which are being given meds such as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibiting meds as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (in short, NSAIDs – such as norocarp, rimadyl, etc.) must not be administered with potassium supplements.

Dosages of potassium citrate

This drug may cause a few adverse side effects if it is administered on your own. Dosage strength cannot exceed 5 grams per 10 pounds (nearly 4.4 kgs) of your pet’s body weight. The maximum dose must never exceed 25 grams within a 24-hour timeline. As an extended use, this supplementary med is administered onto dogs (as well as onto cats) having stones in kidneys. While using it for treatment of kidney stones (especially, for uric acid based stones or calcium oxalate stones), pet owners need to tell their vet of conditions such as hyperkalemia or a high level of potassium in blood. Hence, use of potassium citrate supplements can aggravate your canine’s health condition if it is already having potassium in abundance.

In some cases, even at safe dosage levels – your canine may develop a few adverse reactions and unwanted side effects. These include discharge of watery stools or incessant spells of diarrhea, erratic heartbeats, chronic episodes of vomiting, etc. These are the salient signs of an excessive residue of potassium in your dog’s system.

Precautions needed while giving this supplement to your dog

An extended safety precaution for dogs with gastric problems like ulcers, bruises or internal bleeding: pet owners need to tell the caregiving vet about prior gastric problems of your canine. Among such pets, use of potassium citrate can cause discharge of dark or discolored stools, other abdominal problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, dyspepsia or indigestion. As soon as you see your pet developing one or more of these adverse side effects, it is a safe thing to talk to your treating vet as soon as you possibly can.

In some remote instances, provision of potassium citrate supplement can trigger a few allergic reactions. In such cases, your canine friend may develop skin problems like a lustreless coat, swelling of skin, itchiness as well as formation of hives. Among some dogs, discoloration of skin has also been noticed.

Pet owners need to know that the above listed side effects and discomforts do not make a complete listing of all possible discomforts. Pets are also likely to develop some unlisted / unknown reactions as well as side effects i.e., after being administered with supplements such as potassium citrate. For example, an overdose or a double dosing with potassium citrate can cause swelling of oral parts as well as facial organs; your dog may develop breathing difficulties such as panting, wheezing or gasping for breath. As a remote occurrence, a small share of dogs has experienced a complete loss of coordination or may pass out.

Upon witnessing one or more of these reactions, you are advised to reach out to your vet as soon as you can. Any delay in giving clinical help on an emergency mode can cause near-fatal results. If you are living in any of the Canadian provinces, you are advised to rush to a poison control unit located closer to where you reside.

In essence, your canine pet’s dosage plan of potassium citrate may vary from another canine’s; despite both may appear to have the same level of potassium deficiencies and the symptoms. Also, no two dogs living with a reduced presence of potassium in blood are provided with the same medication plan or strength of dosages. Your dog’s treatment plan varies based on its body weight, age, gender, severity of the clinical condition i.e., deficiency of potassium and also based on how well your dog’s body reacts / responds to the initial dosages of this supplement.

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