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What is Magnesium Deficiency?

Dogs require essential vitamins and minerals just like humans do. One of these key nutrients is magnesium, involved with energy production at the cellular level. Every time your pet moves a muscle, experiences a heartbeat, or has a thought, magnesium is needed to facilitate that transfer of energy. Also involved are three other minerals: sodium, potassium, and calcium, all dependent to some degree on the action of magnesium. These minerals are necessary for proper heart function, muscle movement and nervous system signaling. Sometimes, whether due to malnutrition, diabetes, or kidney damage, an insufficient amount of magnesium is present for use in the body, leading the other three minerals to drop. This can cause weakness, muscle tremors, and heart arrhythmias that can be fatal. Schedule an appointment with the veterinarian immediately if your dog is behaving strangely and is experiencing pain or difficulty walking.

Magnesium deficiency or Hypomagnesemia, is a lack of a critical mineral necessary for all cellular processes requiring ATP. As levels of magnesium are linked to the processes using potassium, sodium, and calcium as well, low magnesium can quickly result in lowered amounts of these minerals as well. Sodium and potassium especially are involved in muscle movement and cardiac rhythm, so hypomagnesemia can be a dangerous condition left untreated.

Magnesium Deficiency Average Cost

From 25 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency in Dogs

  • Muscle weakness or trembling
  • Hyperactive or improperly triggered reflexes
  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle pain
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Lethargy or abnormal behavior
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Causes of Magnesium Deficiency in Dogs

  • Malnutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney damage
  • Treatment with diuretics
  • Disease inhibiting absorption of nutrients
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Diagnosis of Magnesium Deficiency in Dogs

See the veterinarian immediately if your dog appears weak, has trouble walking or is seeming uncoordinated as these may be signs of magnesium deficiency. This deficiency should be corrected swiftly to avoid fatal heart problems. Tell the veterinarian about any changes to your dog’s diet, any other treatment your dog has received, and whether your dog’s habits have changed with regard to urination and defecation. Sometimes, if your dog has been treated with diuretics (drugs that help to evacuate excess fluid), it may lose too much magnesium in the process of urinating out all this fluid.

The veterinarian will listen to your dog’s heart, and if any abnormality is detected, will likely order an ECG. An ECG is a medical device which displays the patterns of your dog’s heartbeat on a screen using terminals taped to your dog’s chest. This is a simple machine and most veterinarians will have one. The classic signs of low magnesium are prolonged PR intervals, widened QRS complexes, depressed ST segments and peaked T-waves.

For the next step, even if your dog does not exhibit these cardiac symptoms, the vet will likely order a blood electrolyte test, which will measure the amounts of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium in your pet’s blood, in addition to some other common electrolytes. This gives a definitive picture of what is and is not making its way into your pet’s bloodstream. This test will need to be sent to the lab and may take a short while to perform. If these come back with low magnesium your vet will discuss treatment options.

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Treatment of Magnesium Deficiency in Dogs

A number of conditions can lead to low magnesium, such as diabetes, kidney damage or treatment with drugs that stress the kidneys, and diseases that hinder nutrient absorption like IBD. If these are well-controlled, it is unlikely a magnesium deficit will appear. If it does, this could indicate the pre-existing condition needs further treatment.

Treatment for magnesium deficiency alone is simple- giving the animal chewable or (in more severe cases) IV magnesium supplements is usually all that is needed to correct the condition. In cases such as malnutrition where the deficiency has persisted for some time, correction of the associated electrolytes may be needed as well, particularly potassium and calcium.

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Recovery of Magnesium Deficiency in Dogs

Dogs without underlying conditions that are treated swiftly usually make a full recovery. However, their recovery must be supervised carefully especially if magnesium supplements are prescribed. Too much magnesium in the body is also an undesirable condition, and so careful adherence to your veterinarian’s instructions will be essential. Especially in the first few days of treatment, your vet may request daily electrolyte testing and potentially an ECG during administration of the treatment, if given by IV. Do not hesitate to call your vet if any of the symptoms return, or your dog develops any new ones.

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Magnesium Deficiency Average Cost

From 25 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650

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Magnesium Deficiency Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Copper

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Australian Shepherd

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9 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Lethargy
Sleepiness
Diari

My dog is an Australian Shepard lab mix and he has been lethargy more so in the past couple of months. He’s always been lazy but now he acts like he is too lazy to walk. like if you’re across the room he would rather scoot to you than get up and walk. He acts like his back legs or hips bother him. He is skinny but i keep a bowl of food at him but he will eat maybe half the bowl once a day. I have also noticed that his nails are peeling like. The only medication he has recieved is over the counter de worming and a de worming pill twice. (besides his shots as a puppy). I don’t really know what it is and i don’t want to take him to a vet and them say it’s nothing or them spend thousands of dollars for them to find nothing wrong with him. And the past couple of nights he has terrible watery diarrhea at 3 in the morning. He also likes to eat clothes no matter how much we keep away from him.

July 16, 2018

Copper's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

The hind limb weakness is concerning and you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination and some causes may worsen in severity and be more difficult to treat if not treated promptly; this lazy behaviour isn’t what should be expected from a nine month old pup. Please visit your Veterinarian regardless of your feelings. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 16, 2018

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Rocco

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pit bull terrier

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

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Alle

Hello, my dogs heavy metal test came back with high levels of aluminum and some mercury. He is also extremely low in calcium and magnesium. His vet said get calcium 700 mg and magnesium 300 mg...at the health store. I have searched high and low , but have been unsuccessful. Is there any brands you could recommend?

March 14, 2018

Rocco's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is strange because I can find plenty of reference to to products containing calcium carbonate 700mg and magnesium hydroxide 300mg but I cannot find any products for sale online with that combination (I checked PetCo, PetSmart, CVS, Walmart, Amazon); plenty with 1200mg, 600mg etc… I would ask your Veterinarian about local stockists for this since he is making the recommendation, plus I don’t know which country you are in. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 14, 2018

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Lily

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

I have a cavalier- she has always been somewhat lethargic but it has gotten tons worse. She now has quite a consistent quivering and shaking of muscles in her front legs and weakness in her back legs. She has treated Lymes disease as well. She also is getting hard of hearing and doesn’t like walking - tends to limp with a good walk.

Nov. 11, 2017

Lily's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to some neurological disorders like syringomyelia which normally presents in younger dogs but you should have Lily checked over by your Veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of the shaking; without examining Lily I cannot give you much advice about a possible cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 11, 2017

Has she had vaccinations? My cocker spaniel (very healthy) 8 years old, received a DA2PP vaccination and had an immune reaction. Her blood count on well check up visit was 58; within 3 days it was 18. She was bleeding .... she died. Heart sick. After the fact, I’ve started educating myself on the dangers of vaccines. Omg! I trusted a vet and never informed me of the dangers. A law needs to be passed to have a consent form signed after hearing of the dangers. My baby Zoe was in perfect health till she was vaccinated.

May 9, 2018

Jennifer B.

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Dylan Jane

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Old English Sheepdog

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8 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

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I recently heard that a magnesium deficiency is a possible cause of seizures in dogs. My dogs has had seizures for the past 5 years, but never had her magnesium checked and I've never supplemented magnesium. I'd like to try supplementing magnesium to see if it has any positive impact on the frequency of her seizures (currently about once every 2 weeks.) Can you recommend a safe but effective dose and brand of magnesium for dogs? She weighs about 55 lbs and is not on any other vitamin or mineral supplement, outside of what's in her food.

Sept. 6, 2017

Dylan Jane's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

There are many possible causes of seizures in dogs with magnesium deficiency being one of them; you should really have a complete workup done to rule out all other possible causes. Supplementing magnesium wouldn’t cause any harm (but should be unnecessary in a dog which is fed a full comprehensive diet) as long as it is dosed within a therapeutic range. There are many different products available and these may change depending on your location, the dose for magnesium is around 12.3mg/kg per day. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Sept. 6, 2017

I'm pretty sure my Chihuahua has arthritis should I give her magnesium? And if so what dose? She is 4 pounds.

Sept. 8, 2018

Natalie C.

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Calla

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German Shepherd

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

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My 6 year old GSD suffered an FCE last fall and has recovered to about 75% normal function. However, just after the event, she began having violent kicking-out, only while sleeping. Sort of like "chasing rabbits" but much more forceful, up to 8 times per hour. I couldn't get any of the vets to help her on this. Eventually, I convinced a vet to try gabapentin and this reduced the strength and frequency somewhat. What about magnesium?

Magnesium Deficiency Average Cost

From 25 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650

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