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Excess Sodium in the Blood in Dogs

Hypernatremia in Dogs

Electrolytes play crucial roles in numerous bodily functions, including maintaining normal heart and brain functions, fluid balance, oxygen delivery, and more. The body requires a precise balance of electrolytes, each with its specific level. Sodium, in particular, is essential for regulating blood pressure, blood volume, transmitting nerve signals, and balancing the body’s acidity/alkalinity levels.

Hypernatremia refers to elevated levels of sodium in the blood, disrupting the delicate balance. This condition often occurs due to significant water loss through the gastrointestinal tract, combined with sodium loss, or inadequate water intake. Common sources of hypernatremia include excessive consumption of sodium chloride (NaCl), or table salt. Changes in sodium levels typically coincide with alterations in chloride levels, and symptoms associated with both electrolytes are usually present together.

Symptoms and Types

  • Heightened thirst (polydipsia) and increased water consumption
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Other symptoms may be linked to the underlying cause
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive water loss through urine (as observed in diabetes)

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of your dog’s medical history, including any past medical treatments. Following this, a comprehensive physical examination will be performed. Standard laboratory tests such as complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis will be conducted, revealing elevated sodium levels among other abnormalities. In dogs with diabetes, urinalysis will indicate urine changes, potentially including low sodium levels. Further specific testing may be necessary to diagnose underlying diseases.

Treatment

Fluid therapy is frequently employed to rectify the electrolyte balance. In dehydrated dogs, fluid therapy should be administered gradually over a period to address fluid and electrolyte imbalances. Your veterinarian will monitor sodium and other electrolyte levels throughout and after the treatment to confirm they are within the normal range. Treating underlying causes, such as diabetes, is crucial for resolving the issue completely and averting future occurrences.

Living and Management

Adhere to the guidelines provided by your dog’s veterinarian. Ensure a continuous supply of water for diabetic patients. Your veterinarian may recommend a sodium-restricted diet for your dog. Refrain from giving treats, especially those containing sodium chloride, without consulting your veterinarian first. Stick to the prescribed diet until your dog achieves complete recovery.

Most dogs with hypernatremia unrelated to underlying diseases typically respond well, with an excellent prognosis. However, for animals with underlying diseases contributing to electrolyte imbalances, prognosis depends on treating the underlying condition and correcting electrolyte abnormalities.

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