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Chloride varies in the range of 100 to 150mmol/l. Hypercholoraemia is associated with dehydration and possibly renal failure.

Chloride is present in highest concentrations in the ECF and tends to accompany sodium movement by passive diffusion.

Small animals

Causes of hyperchloraemia

  • Water deprivation
  • Osmotic diarrhoea
  • Hypertonic saline/salt poisoning
  • Renal tubular acidosis (types I and II)
  • Hypoadrenocorticism (type IV renal tubular acidosis)
  • Defective thirst response
  • Diabetes insipidus (with water restriction)
  • Chronic respiratory alkalosis

Causes of hypochloraemia

  • Vomiting of stomach contents
  • Therapy with loop diuretics or thiazides
  • Metabolic acidosis: ketoacidosis, lactic acidosis, ethylene glycol

Complementary tests

Other electrolytes


Causes of hyperchloraemia

  • Dehydration
  • Salt poisoning
  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Respiratory alkalosis (chronic)
  • Renal dysfunction (renal tubular necrosis)

Causes of hypochloraemia

  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood loss
  • Peritonitis
  • Gastrointestinal loss (higher bowel obstruction)
  • Ruptured bladder
  • Ascites
  • Excessive sweating
  • Oesophageal obstruction
  • Low salt diet
  • Respiratory acidosis

Complementary tests

In equines the calculation of urine clearance ratios will assist interpretation of serum electrolyte and mineral levels.

Authors & References

NationWide Laboratories