Causes of Metabolic Acidosis in Dogs: 5 Reasons and symptoms

Explore the Causes of Metabolic Acidosis in Dogs – its causes, symptoms, and effective treatment options. Gain a comprehensive understanding of this metabolic disorder and learn how to safeguard your canine companion’s health. Read on to discover crucial insights into recognizing, managing, and preventing metabolic acidosis in dogs.


Metabolic acidosis is a medical condition characterized by an abnormal decrease in the pH levels of the blood, resulting from an excess accumulation of acids. This condition can affect dogs, leading to various health issues if not promptly addressed. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind metabolic acidosis in dogs, its symptoms, diagnosis, and effective treatment methods.

Causes of Metabolic Acidosis in Dogs:

Kidney Dysfunction:

One of the primary causes of metabolic acidosis in dogs is impaired kidney function. The kidneys play a crucial role in maintaining the body’s acid-base balance by excreting acids in urine. When the kidneys fail to perform this function adequately, acids accumulate in the bloodstream, leading to acidosis.

Diabetes Mellitus:

Dogs with diabetes mellitus may experience metabolic acidosis due to the increased production of ketones. Ketones are acidic byproducts formed when the body breaks down fats for energy, and their accumulation can contribute to a drop in blood pH.

Lactic Acid Buildup:

Conditions such as shock, severe infections, or inadequate oxygen supply to tissues can lead to the accumulation of lactic acid in the body. This can result in a type of metabolic acidosis known as lactic acidosis.

Ingestion of Toxic Substances:

Some toxic substances, such as ethylene glycol (found in antifreeze), can lead to metabolic acidosis in dogs. Ingestion of these substances can have severe consequences on the body’s acid-base balance.

Starvation or Malnutrition:

Prolonged periods of fasting or malnutrition can also contribute to metabolic acidosis in dogs. In such cases, the body begins to break down stored fats for energy, producing acidic byproducts.

Symptoms of Metabolic Acidosis in Dogs:

Increased Respiratory Rate:

Dogs with metabolic acidosis may exhibit rapid breathing (tachypnea) as the body tries to compensate for the increased acidity by expelling carbon dioxide.

Weakness and Lethargy:

Acidosis can lead to a decline in energy levels, causing weakness and lethargy in affected dogs.

Vomiting and Diarrhea:

Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea may be present, contributing to fluid and electrolyte imbalances.


Acidosis can lead to increased fluid loss, resulting in dehydration.

Changes in Behavior:

Dogs may display altered behavior, including confusion or disorientation.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Diagnosing metabolic acidosis in dogs involves a thorough examination of clinical symptoms and blood tests to assess the acid-base balance. Treatment strategies aim to address the underlying cause and correct the acidosis. This may include fluid therapy, administration of medications to regulate acidity levels, and addressing the primary condition responsible for acidosis.

Preventive Measures

Preventing metabolic acidosis in dogs involves adopting proactive measures to maintain their overall health and well-being. While some factors leading to metabolic acidosis may be genetic or unpredictable, many preventive steps can be taken to minimize the risk. Here are several guidelines to help prevent dogs from developing metabolic acidosis:

Balanced Diet:

Ensure your dog receives a well-balanced and nutritionally complete diet. Adequate nutrition supports overall health and helps prevent conditions that might lead to metabolic imbalances.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups:

Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s health and catch any potential issues early on. Routine blood tests can help detect abnormalities in the blood chemistry, allowing for timely intervention.


Provide access to clean and fresh water at all times. Proper hydration is essential for maintaining the balance of fluids and electrolytes in the body, reducing the risk of dehydration-related acidosis.

Avoid Toxic Substances:

Keep toxic substances, such as antifreeze, out of reach. Ingestion of certain toxins can lead to severe health issues, including metabolic acidosis.

Regular Exercise:

Engage your dog in regular physical activity. Exercise not only promotes cardiovascular health but also helps maintain a healthy weight and metabolism.

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels:

For dogs with diabetes or breeds prone to diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is crucial. Proper management of diabetes can reduce the risk of ketone-induced metabolic acidosis.

Maintain a Healthy Weight:

Obesity is a risk factor for various health issues, including metabolic disorders. Feed your dog appropriate portions and encourage regular exercise to prevent excessive weight gain.

Prompt Treatment of Underlying Conditions:

If your dog has a pre-existing medical condition, work closely with your veterinarian to manage and treat it effectively. Addressing the underlying cause can prevent the development of secondary issues like metabolic acidosis.

Avoid Prolonged Fasting:

Refrain from subjecting your dog to prolonged periods of fasting or undernutrition. Adequate and regular feeding helps prevent the breakdown of stored fats, which can contribute to acidosis.

Genetic Screening:

If your dog belongs to a breed known for specific genetic predispositions, consider genetic screening to identify potential risks early on. This proactive approach allows for targeted preventive measures.


Understanding metabolic acidosis in dogs is vital for pet owners and veterinary professionals alike. Recognizing the signs, seeking prompt veterinary care, and addressing underlying causes are key to managing this metabolic disorder and ensuring the well-being of canine companions. By staying informed and proactive, pet owners can play a crucial role in safeguarding their dogs against the potential risks associated with metabolic acidosis.


Q1: Can metabolic acidosis be prevented in dogs?

While some causes, such as genetic predisposition, cannot be prevented, maintaining a balanced diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and prompt treatment of underlying conditions can contribute to prevention.

Q2: Is metabolic acidosis a common condition in dogs?

Metabolic acidosis is relatively uncommon in healthy dogs but can occur in various medical conditions. Early recognition and intervention are crucial for successful management.

Q3: Are certain dog breeds more susceptible to metabolic acidosis?

While metabolic acidosis can affect any dog breed, certain genetic factors may predispose specific breeds to certain conditions leading to acidosis. Regular veterinary care helps identify and manage these risks.

Q4: Can metabolic acidosis be fatal in dogs?

In severe cases, untreated metabolic acidosis can be life-threatening. Timely veterinary intervention and appropriate treatment are essential for a positive outcome.

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