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Too much Acid in the Body in Dogs

Metabolic Acidosis in Dogs

Metabolic acidosis in dogs results from an imbalance in the acid-base equilibrium within their blood, which is typically regulated by the lungs and kidneys. This condition arises when there is an elevation in the levels of acid in the bloodstream, leading to abnormal accumulations in the body. The causes may include the loss of alkali such as bicarbonate, heightened metabolic acid production, the ingestion of substances like ethylene glycol, which leads to ethylene toxicity, or the kidneys’ inability to effectively excrete acid as part of their regulatory function. Notably, metabolic acidosis can affect dogs regardless of their age, size, gender, or breed.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of metabolic acidosis in dogs can vary, especially if the dog has other health issues like diabetes or kidney disease. Common signs indicating metabolic acidosis include depression, particularly if the acidosis is severe, rapid and deep breathing, diarrhea, confusion, and fever.


Causes of metabolic acidosis in dogs include ingestion of ethylene glycol (antifreeze) or salicylate (aspirin), chronic kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, and severe shock.


To diagnose metabolic acidosis in your dog, you’ll need to provide a comprehensive history of your dog’s health, including symptoms and any potential incidents that may have triggered the condition, such as suspected antifreeze ingestion or aspirin use. This history can offer valuable insights for your veterinarian regarding the organs involved in secondary symptoms.

Following the history-taking, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your dog. Diagnosis of metabolic acidosis involves performing a complete blood chemical profile to assess acid and alkali levels in the body. Identifying the underlying cause of the metabolic acidosis is crucial for effective treatment, so additional test panels may also be employed alongside the blood chemical profile.


Treatment for metabolic acidosis typically involves two main aspects. It includes restoring the disturbed acid-base balance and addressing any underlying diseases, such as diabetes or kidney failure. Your veterinarian will administer appropriate fluid therapy to correct the acid balance. If the acidosis is mild, your dog may be able to return home after a brief treatment. However, in cases of severe or complicated acidosis, hospitalization for a few days may be necessary until stabilization occurs. Identifying the underlying problem or disease causing the acidosis is essential to prevent future episodes of metabolic acidosis.

Living and Management

Following discharge from the hospital, monitor your dog closely for a few days. If you notice signs of depression or rapid breathing, even at rest, consult your veterinarian. This vigilance is particularly crucial for dogs with chronic health issues like diabetes, as another episode of metabolic acidosis may occur unpredictably.

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