Hyperphosphatemia in Dogs

Phosphorus is an essential mineral for dogs and other animal species, including humans. Normally, it can be found in a pet’s bones, but small quantities do circulate in the blood flow and are involved in a variety of processes, especially those linked to cell membrane substance transfers.

In today’s article, we’re looking at what happens when a dog has too much phosphorus in their body. Read on to find out everything you should know about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of canine hyperphosphatemia!

Why Does Hyperphosphatemia Happen?

Hyperphosphatemia can have different causes depending on what types of dogs it affects. For example, seniors are more likely to develop this health issue as a result of them partially losing their kidney function, which is in charge of eliminating minerals and other substances from their bodies every day.

Older dogs also have a higher chance of suffering from hyperphosphatemia because their thyroid gland might function differently, which can influence the levels of phosphorus they have in their blood flow. Chronic conditions such as diabetes can also negatively influence the dog’s body in this sense.

In young dogs, hyperphosphatemia occurs for slightly different reasons. Of course, young dogs can suffer from renal pathologies just like their older counterparts can, but they are much rarer by comparison.

Instead, this canine category is more likely to have increased blood phosphorus as a result of higher intestinal absorption of this mineral.

Symptoms of Hyperphosphatemia in Dogs

The signs of this health complication in our canine friends are very similar to what humans would experience if they were to have too much phosphorus in their blood, too.

As such, pets can experience one or several of the following symptoms:

  • Muscle tremors
  • Tingling around the mouth or eyes
  • weakness/lethargy
  • Itchiness
  • Excessive thirst or urination

There are actually two types of hyperphosphatemia in terms of the signs that they can lead to and how they affect dogs. The acute form is more concerning as the phosphorus level can increase very quickly (in poisoning cases, for example).

The chronic form can lead to these symptoms showing up gradually, so pet owners might not even feel concerned enough to take their dog to the vet clinic. Over time, the damage in the pet’s body can become more and more severe (especially if we’re discussing kidney failure).


This health problem can be diagnosed easily and conveniently thanks to a typical blood test. However, the challenge afterward is to determine what type of treatment is the most appropriate one depending on the primary cause of hyperphosphatemia that the dog has developed.

A normal phosphate concentration would be up to 4.5mg/dL (or 1.46 mmol/L). Anything above that limit is a sign of hyperphosphatemia, whether mild or severe.

Treatment of Canine Hyperphosphatemia

When it comes to treatment, there are several ways of going about things. It goes without saying that the main and most important purpose is to decrease the phosphorus level as quickly and soon as possible. This can be done by using phosphate binders or by restricting phosphate from food at all costs.

If the issue is caused by a problem affecting the pet’s kidneys, hemodialysis might be recommended to remove the excess phosphorus from the blood flow.

The most common phosphate binders currently available in veterinary practice are calcium acetate and calcium carbonate.

Another aspect that we have to note is that some dogs also develop hypocalcemia. There is a balance between the levels of calcium and phosphorus that can co-exist in the dog’s blood. When there’s too much calcium, the dog might suffer from hypophosphatemia; when there’s too much phosphorus, the dog can develop hypocalcemia.

If a dog is a senior and is diagnosed with hyperphosphatemia, they will require consistent veterinary care in order to make sure that the phosphorus levels remain within the normal limits. This means that you might have to take your canine friend to the animal hospital once a month or once every two months to see how the diet recommended by your vet impacts your pooch’s health.

Recovery and Prevention

The prognosis when it comes to canine hyperphosphatemia depends on its cause. For example, if your dog accidentally ingested rat poison, which contained massive amounts of vitamin D or if they were accidentally fed raisins or grapes, they are not going to sustain heavy kidney damage.

However, if some amount of kidney damage does occur, you should know that your dog might have to be carefully kept under medical supervision and might need a special diet for the remainder of their life.

Dogs that have other ongoing chronic diseases for which they are receiving medication can have a lower chance of recovering fast compared to their younger and healthier counterparts.

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