What is Lactic Acid Build-Up?
Lactic acidosis, or the build up of lactic acid, can be caused or exacerbated by reduced blood flow in your dog’s limbs inhibiting the body’s ability to metabolize the lactic acid. If your dog is suffering from lactic acid build up, you will likely notice that he is in pain after physical activity. Lactic acid build up may be temporary, when lactic acid production outpaces the body’s ability to process it after exercise. However, it may be due to an underlying cause that chronically or severely inhibits the body’s ability to process lactic acid.Lactic acidosis is the medical term for the abnormal build up of lactic acid in a dog’s body. Lactic acid is a chemical naturally produced by muscle tissue and red blood cells during normal muscle activity; therefore, exercise causes a rise in lactic acid in order to fuel exercise. Under normal conditions, a dog’s liver and kidneys facilitate the filtering of lactic acid from the body.
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Symptoms of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Dogs
- Exercise intolerance
- Muscle stiffness or soreness
- Heavy breathing
Causes of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Dogs
- Strenuous exercise
- Low blood oxygen
- Renal failure
- Heart failure
- Liver disease
- Vascular disorders
- Respiratory failure
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Sepsis (whole-body inflammation caused by infection)
Diagnosis of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Dogs
The veterinarian will conduct a thorough and well documented physical examination, which will likely include an evaluation of your dog’s gait in order to gauge muscular functioning. Diagnosis will heavily depend upon your reporting of your dog’s medical history and the onset of symptoms. If your dog is exhibiting additional symptoms beyond those listed above, it may point to a serious underlying cause. However, if your dog is only exhibiting the symptoms of lactic acidosis and has recently endured serious physical activity (e.g., an abnormally long weekend of hiking), then the veterinarian may be able to determine that your dog has simply exceeded the lactic acid threshold.
If an underlying cause is suspected, a chemical blood profile will be examined in order to test electrolyte levels in the blood as well as blood oxygen level, liver enzymes, albumin, bilirubin, and cholesterol. Further, a complete blood count will test for anemia, infection and Heinz bodies, which may indicate issues with the liver.
Treatment of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Dogs
There is no need for treatment for primary lactic acidosis caused by intense exercise. However, secondary lactic acidosis caused by an underlying disorder will necessitate the treatment of the underlying disorder. As lactic acid build up is caused by low blood oxygen, regardless of the cause of your dog’s decreased blood oxygen level, he may require oxygen support for immediate relief. IV fluids may also be necessary in order to treat shock or sepsis from infection.
Recovery of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Dogs
The most important factor contributing to your dog’s successful recovery is careful monitoring of his condition. Be sure to schedule an appointment with the appropriate veterinarian upon noticing any negative changes in your dog’s health. Specific recovery instructions will depend upon your dog’s specific diagnosis. In any case, hydration is very important during recovery and before, during and after exercise.
Preventing primary lactic acidosis involves responsible management of your dog’s exercise. Always pace your dog and provide exercise that is appropriate for your dog’s physical condition. Pay attention to your dog during exercise, looking carefully for signs of fatigue and thirst. Dogs are eager to please and will often push themselves too far, particularly younger dogs who have not built up muscle strength but are easily excited. Make sure that water is available to your dog before, after and during exercise. Also, a healthy, balanced diet is essential to an active lifestyle. Consult the veterinarian about your dog’s diet to see if he or she recommends any changes.
Lactic Acid Build-Up Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Lactic acid blood level 7 times normal. Showing symptoms of very rapid heart rate and respiratory rate.. weakness of legs. Overnight onset. Dog almost 16 years. West highland white terrier
Lactic acid build up is normally due to anaerobic glycolysis where the body uses a less efficient pathway to obtain energy than regular aerobic glycolysis; this is generally due to a lack of circulating oxygen which may be due to a reduction of intake due to lung conditions or a lack of uptake by the blood due to damaged red blood cells. Infections, cancer, poisoning and others are all possible causes which need to be rule out. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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