"Hyperkalemia" is a mouthful, but it's pretty simple: too much potassium in your pup's bloodstream. There's a variety of reasons why a dog may have hyperkalemia, but the most common cause is kidney failure. Treatment depends on the cause, and the vet will focus on lowering potassium levels before treating the source of the problem.
If Duke's blood work showed more potassium than normal, the vet will need to make sure he has hyperkalemia, vs. pseudohyperkalemia -- a rise in potassium because his cells are leaking too much potassium. Pseudohyperkalemia can occur during or after a blood draw. The vet will look at your dog's symptoms, which can include sporadic gastrointestinal problems, weakness, collapse and limp paralysis. Duke's medical history will be considered, along with blood tests and urinalysis to help gain a complete understanding of his condition. Kidney failure is a common cause, but other triggers include abnormally high potassium intake, medication, antifreeze poisoning, trauma, kidney stones, high platelet counts and leukemia. Generally, fluid therapy is the first step to getting the potassium level back to normal. Other medications, such as calcium gluconate, sodium bicarbonate and glucose can also be used to affect the potassium presence. After Duke's potassium level is where it should be, the underlying cause of the increase can be addressed. Regular follow-up visits to the vet will be necessary to keep an eye on your dog's potassium level.
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