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Why potassium matters for your pet
Potassium is one of many minerals that is crucial for the overall functioning of the human and animal body, and proper potassium levels in your pets are just as important as they are in you and your family members. Potassium is necessary for proper heart function and plays an important role in normal digestion and muscle function. The potassium levels in an animal is dependent on the levels of sodium and magnesium in the blood.
Usually, a commercial diet of pet food will keep the levels of these minerals in check, thus keeping the potassium at healthy levels to keep your dog's organs functioning properly. However, there are some issues that can cause a loss of potassium. High levels of salt (sodium) can lead to a loss of potassium. Low levels can also occur if a pet is suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, malnutrition or irritable bowel disease. Usually, it is caused by too much potassium lost in the urine or intestines.
However, a number of pet drugs can cause a drop in potassium levels, too. If your pet is on prescription medications like corticosteroids, insulin or antacids, talk to your vet about the risk of potassium deficiency. Thiazide diuretics and loop diuretics can also decrease potassium levels. Other medications can cause an unhealthy increase in potassium levels. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers and Spironolactone can all have this effect on your pet, so always discuss all of the side effects of any particular drug with your vet before you leave the office.
Because potassium helps the heart, muscles and digestive tract function, a lack of this mineral can cause a number of issues. Pets with hypokalemia, or low potassium, may be weak or lacking energy, have muscle and stomach cramps and an irregular heartbeat.
If your pet has hypokalemia or low potassium levels, your veterinarian may recommend certain pet products to get it back on track. Supplements like Potassium Citrate can be sprinkled on your furry friend's pet food, while other supplements like Tumil-K and Urocit-K need to be given orally. If your pet has trouble swallowing pills, hide the medicine in Greenies Pill Pockets and trick it into thinking it is getting a treat.