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J Vet Intern Med. 2012 Sep-Oct;26(5):1107-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2012.00983.x. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Incidence, nature, and etiology of metabolic acidosis in dogs and cats.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Surgical and Radiological Sciences, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.



Metabolic acidosis is an important abnormality in ill and injured dogs and cats.


To describe the incidence, nature, and etiology of metabolic acidosis in dogs and cats that had arterial or venous blood gases measured for any reason at a university teaching hospital.


Dogs and cats at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.


Acid base parameters and electrolyte and lactate concentrations in dogs and cats measured during a 13-month period were retrospectively retrieved from a computer database. Metabolic acidosis was defined as a standardized base excess (SBE) in dogs of <-4 mmol/L and in cats <-5 mmol/L.


A total of 1,805 dogs and cats were included; of these, 887 (49%) were classified as having a metabolic acidosis (753 dogs and 134 cats). Primary metabolic acidosis was the most common disorder in dogs, whereas mixed acid base disorder of metabolic acidosis and respiratory acidosis was most common in cats. Hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis was more common than a high anion gap (AG) metabolic acidosis; 25% of dogs and 34% of cats could not be classified as having either a hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis or a high AG metabolic acidosis.


Metabolic acidosis was found commonly in this patient population and was associated with a wide variety of disease processes. Mixed acid base disorders occur frequently and routine categorization of metabolic acidosis based on the presence of high AG or hyperchloremia may be misleading in a large proportion of cases.

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