Hormonal Disorders: Ketoacidosis

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Cause of Ketoacidosis

When your dog eats, the body breaks the food down into several component parts for absorption into the body. One of those components is sugar (also called glucose). Insulin produced by the pancreas is the bodies mechanism for controlling how much sugar enters each cell for energy.

When the insulin level is not correct due to overeating or a disease such as pancreatitis, the cells cannot get the energy they need. This triggers a series of symptoms such as over eating, weight loss and as the sugar accumulates in the blood, thirst and urination.

Since enough sugar isn't entering the cells for energy, the body looks for alternate sources such as stored fat in the body. The body doesn't break down fat efficiently resulting in acid compounds that accumulate in the blood. These acid compounds are called ketones and the condition is called ketoacidosis. Symptoms are therefore those associated with diabetes and then additional symptoms caused by the body basically starving for energy and trying to break down fat.


Diagnosis of this disorder is based on a review of your dog's symptoms including:

Symptoms Associated with Canine Diabetes:

Plus symptoms that are associated with ketoacidosis:

Results of certain tests will also confirm the disease:

To confirm many of the above symptoms, laboratory is required. Treatment will begin even before test results are in because of the severity of symptoms. Lab tests required include a urine culture, urinalysis, test for blood glucose (sugar level), test for the presence of blood gases and tests for electrolytes.


Your veterinarian will treat the immediate problems that could cause death if left untreated. An IV will be used to provide the right levels of fluids for your dog. These include dehydration, the need for electrolytes (sales and minerals that conduct electrical impulses in the body).

After an initial level of care is provided, your veterinarian will address problems such as blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and too much fat (triglycerides) in the blood (called hypertriglyceridemia). Your vet will also look to restore sodium levels (hyponatremia) and chloride levels (hypochloremia).

Once the dog ketoacidosis is taken care of, your veterinarian will address the underlying diabetes such as insulin and dietary change.