Times change and my website needed to change too. To see the 2020 update of this page click this link
To see what normal blood and urine values are, go here
For an explanation of causes of most abnormal blood and urine tests, go here
To see how tests are grouped, go here
Many of the causes for electrolyte disturbances are the same as the causes of an abnormal anion gap. Read about those here.
Electrolytes are the positively or negatively charged ions that circulate free in you pet’s blood and other body fluids. They are the charged halves (cations or anions) of the various salts that are dissolved in your pet's blood stream.
Follow their name links to understand what problems make each one go up or down and the symptoms an imbalance of each is likely to produce in your pet.
The proper balance of electrolytes in your dog or cat ’s blood is regulated by its kidneys under the control of antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin, ADH, AVP) released from its pituitary gland, aldosterone produced by its adrenal glands, and parathyroid hormone (PTH) produced by the parathyroid glands in its neck.
Changes in your pet’s breathing patterns
Changes in heart rate.
Without treatment, symptoms tend to steadily become worse and often result in medical emergencies.
Along with providing supplemental oxygen, one of the first things veterinarians at emergency centers check and correct are electrolyte imbalances. They do that by providing customized intravenous fluids designed to raise or lower specific blood electrolyte ions.
Some common causes of electrolyte imbalance in dogs and cats that come to mind are:
High fluid loss through the urine, such as seen in diabetes
Failure to eat, a diet unbalanced in minerals. Gastrointestinal foreign bodies and overuse of phosphate binding agents can also cause electrolyte disturbances.