Hypokalemia

Hypokalemia is deficiency of potassium in the bloodstream. The most common signs of hypokalemia are related to neuromuscular dysfunction of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles. Increased thirst and urination are not common signs of hypokalemia. Hypokalemia usually develops as a result of another disorder.1

Most common causes of hypokalemia in the dog and cat include:

  • Metabolic alkalosis (metabolic condition in which the pH of tissue is elevated beyond the normal range of 7.35-7.45)
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (complication in patients with diabetes mellitus when the body switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketone bodies that cause most of the symptoms and complications)
  • Hypokalemic periodic paralysis of Burmese cats (congenital disease characterized by muscle weakness or paralysis)
  • Gastrointestinal fluid loss
  • Chronic kidney failure, especially in cats
  • Diet-induced hypokalemic nephropathy in cats (narrowing of blood vessels, salt-sensitivity, and progression of damage to kidney tissue.)
  • Renal acidosis (accumulation of acid in blood)
  • Postobstructive diuresis (urinary retention)
  • Primary hyperaldosteronism (a disorder in which the adrenal gland releases too much of the hormone aldosterone into the blood due to a problem of the adrenal glands themselves)
  • Secondary hyperaldosteronism (a disorder in which the adrenal gland releases too much of the hormone aldosterone into the blood as a result of a problem elsewhere in the body)
  • Liver disease
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Nephrotic syndrome (kidney disorder characterized by three signs of disease: large proteinuria, hypoalbuminemia and edema)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypomagnesemia (magnesium deficiency)
  • Potassium-free fluid administration
  • Parenteral nutritional solutions
  • Insulin and glucose-containing fluid administration
  • Sodium bicarbonate therapy
  • Low dietary intake
  • Infectious diseases (canine_monocytic_ehrlichiosis2)
  • Malabsorption (cobalamin malabsorption3)
  • Cushing's disease

References

  1. Canine and Feline Endocrinology and Reproduction. Edward C. Feldman, Richard William Nelson
  2. Guideline for veterinary practitioners on canine ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis in Europe
  3. Selective intestinal cobalamin malabsorption with proteinuria (Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome) in juvenile Beagles