Potassium is one of the most important minerals a living organism needs for proper functioning. As such, potassium is very important for dogs.
Potassium is extremely important both for humans and dogs. This metal is an electrolyte, which makes all body functions must work properly.
But… What happens if dogs don’t get enough potassium? Or if they get too much of it?
Let’s elaborate on this one further and explain what hyperkalemia in dogs is and how potassium keeps your dog healthy.
Potassium For Dogs: Function
Potassium is a primary electrolyte for dogs, making it responsible for many body functions.
Just like sodium, potassium prevents dehydration and keeps dogs moving.
Without potassium, dogs would not be able to move as potassium supports nerve impulses.
Potassium is also responsible for any sort of voluntary and involuntary muscle contraction.
In short, potassium:
- Regulates fluid
- Regulates muscle contractions
- Sends nerve signals
More than 90% of the total body potassium stored is found in the body’s cells. (1) This means that in order to play its role in the body, potassium has to be in great balance. Otherwise, chronic health conditions will appear.
Safe Sources Of Potassium For Dogs
In general, all Kibble dog food should provide enough potassium. However, in some cases, dogs need a little potassium boost. This is where supplements or foods that are rich in potassium steps in.
Good to know: If your dog is on a raw diet you should put extra precautions on proper potassium intake.
Knowing which human foods are safe for dogs is important, especially if your dog tends to grab food when you are not looking.
Avoid feeding Fido chocolate, or any food that might contain xylitol. Onion is especially dangerous for dogs.
No matter whether certain food may benefit you, you need to focus on food that will benefit your dog.
Here is a short list of food that is not only safe for dogs but also packed with potassium:
To boost a dog’s overall health and provide extra minerals and vitamins include these items into the dog’s diet.
These items will support the main functions of your dog’s health and help your dog thrive.
Good to know: Potassium is best absorbed in the small intestines. Since potassium can get dissolved much before it gets to the intestines it is important not to overcook or serve incorrectly food rich in potassium.
Potassium levels should be perfectly balanced out and the dog’s potassium daily intake guaranteed.
How Much Potassium Should I Give My Dog?
The recommended daily potassium intake for dogs is 20mg per day.
This is a minimum for healthy dogs. Dogs will thrive on balanced nutrition that is made out of water, fat, protein, carbs, minerals, and vitamins.
What Is A Good Source Of Potassium For Dogs?
One of the best potassium sources for dogs is bananas.
Bananas are not only easy to digest, and great to chew, but they offer high p[otassium amounts.
They can also easily support muscle building and help regulate acidity. Although some food may be great for dogs there should still be moderation.
Even the healthiest food can create stomach disturbances if not worse if taken in large amounts.
Whenever you are in doubt when it comes to a dog’s nutrition, talk with your veterinarian first.
Health Benefits Of Potassium For Dogs
Now that we know that potassium is good, let’s talk more about its benefits.
Here is what potassium enables in your dog when this metal is included in an optimal amount:
1. Better Muscle Growth
Potassium helps muscles contract and relax. This is how dogs achieve overall muscle strength and growth.
In a way, potassium enables better motor skills. Is your pooch a high-energy dog breed? Highly active dogs need an increased intake of potassium to keep them active and their movement easy.
2. Healthy Heart
Potassium has an important role in muscle contractions and affects your dog’s heart health.
If this mineral’s levels are balanced, the heart should have a regular heartbeat and normal blood flow as a result. (2)
This crucial mineral can also aid your dog’s digestion.
Potassium helps nutrients absorb faster thanks to its electrolyte characteristic. The mineral is important in the digestive process of breaking down fats and carbohydrates.
4. Healthy Nervous System
Since potassium helps your dog’s body to generate nerve impulses, it will also directly influence your pup’s cognitive function.
Your dog might learn and memorize more easily when his body gets enough potassium. When in balance, this important mineral will maintain Fido’s sharpness at its peak.
5. Stronger Bones
As if it wasn’t enough, it was found that dogs that had their potassium levels in optimal levels had higher bone density. This is due to potassium’s role of regulating acid levels, which also affects internal PH value.
It was also found that dogs that have their acid levels in optimal balance, retain more calcium in their bones and blood with time.
Low Potassium Levels In Dogs: Symptoms And Causes
Potassium deficiency in dogs is caused by an excessive loss of potassium.
A low intake of the mineral rarely causes potassium levels to drop. (3,4)
These states of the body can happen when a dog is affected by certain health conditions that make retaining enough potassium in the body really difficult.
If your dog has some of the following symptoms, then you might have to bring your dog to the vet in order to do blood tests. The results will show if your pup’s potassium levels are in balance or not.
Low Potassium Levels In Dogs: Symptoms
A dog that is affected by a potassium deficiency will show some or all of these symptoms:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic vomiting
- Kidney disease
- Cardiac arrest
- Loss of appetite
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Poor growth
- Muscle pain
A condition of having low levels of potassium in the body is called hypokalemia. The causes of hypokalemia are various.
Usually, it doesn’t occur in healthy dogs.
Dogs that already suffer from certain chronic health conditions such as diabetes are more prone to having hypokalemia at some point too.
Low Potassium Levels In Dogs: Causes
Causes of low potassium in dogs may vary for a number of reasons. This may occur due to chronic kidney disease, or after administrating a certain medication that should increase urine output.
Here are some of the most common reasons for low potassium levels in dogs:
- Potassium loss through urine
- Chronic kidney disease
- Intestinal obstruction
- Insufficient potassium intake
- Insulin administration
- Strong stress presence
- Glucose administration
- Loss of potassium through feces (diarrhea)
Low Potassium Levels In Dogs: Diagnose And Treatment
Diagnosing low potassium levels in dogs is something that only your veterinarian may conduct.
Proper diagnosis will include a full history of your dog’s health, nature of symptoms, physical exam, blood tests, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis.
These are the mandatory and most effective steps when it comes to diagnosing hypokalemia and its underlying causes.
As for the treatment, you may expect your dog to be hospitalized if the condition is severe enough.
Supplementation of potassium is a common part of the treatment, as well as maintenance dosages of potassium once the dog has been stabilized.
Your veterinarian may tell you to measure potassium levels every 6 to 24 hours.
If you notice any changes, or something unusual, make sure that you contact your veterinarian.
High Potassium Levels In Dogs: Symptoms And Causes
The same as having a potassium deficiency, dogs can have a too high concentration of potassium in their blood.
The symptoms of having excessive levels of this mineral are quite different from the ones that potassium deficiency causes. However, what’s similar is that this condition is also rarely shown in dogs that have good overall health.
The symptoms of a dog with high levels of potassium are:
- Limp Paralysis
The condition of having potassium levels higher than normal is called hyperkalemia.
Hyperkalemia usually occurs in dogs that have had a problem with kidneys because these organs have an important role of eliminating potassium and its acidity.
When kidneys and renal function of elimination of potassium are affected by another condition, a dog might soon develop hyperkalemia.
In some cases, this condition might lead to potentially dangerous cardiotoxicity.
It was also found that exhaustive exercise might also be a factor that makes hyperkalemia more likely to occur. (5)
High Potassium Levels In Dogs: Diagnose And Treatment
Excessive potassium in dogs is something that only your veterinarian can properly diagnose. To achieve this there will be certain steps that will include:
- Full dog history
- Listed symptoms
- Mention of possible injuries or incidents
- A complete blood profile
Since hyperkalemia in dogs is followed by weakness and collapse, the vet will check for an endocrine disorder, also known as hypoadrenocorticism.
In other words, if your dog has difficulties urinating or experiences low urine output, an urinary obstruction will be considered to have kidney failure.
As for the treatment, you can expect work on lowering potassium levels back to optimal levels.
If the dog is dehydrated or even hypotensive, fluids can be administered, while medication will be set by your vet.
The Bottom Line
As electrolyte potassium is crucial for your dog. Not only potassium is important for a dog’s overall movement, but it is also vital for the dog’s heart, nerves, and muscles.
If your dog is lacking in this mineral you can expect frequent veterinarian check-ups.
You can expect the same if your dog has high potassium levels. If you notice your dog being tired all the time, or you notice him refusing to eat, contact your veterinarian.
Your Fido may not have optimal potassium levels and you want to work on that.