Merck Manual

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Hypermagnesemia in Animals

By

Allison J. Stewart

, BVSC (Hons), MS, DACVIM-LA, DACVECC, MANZCVS, PhD, The University of Queensland

Last full review/revision Aug 2022 | Content last modified Sep 2022

Hypermagnesemia (plasma magnesium [Mg] concentration >2 mg/dL [1.1 mmol/L]) is a rare condition reported only in monogastric animals. Horses show clinical signs of sweating and muscle weakness within 4 hours of receiving excessive oral doses of magnesium sulfate administered as a cathartic for treatment of large-intestinal impactions. This is followed by recumbency, tachycardia (120 bpm), and tachypnea (60 breaths/minute). Clinical signs subside after treatment with slow IV infusion of calcium gluconate (23% solution). Hypermagnesemia has been reported in cats with renal failure that were receiving IV fluid treatment.

As plasma Mg concentrations exceed 2.5 mmol/L, there may be ECG changes with prolongation of the PR interval; at 5 mmol/L, deep tendon reflexes disappear, followed by hypotension and respiratory depression. Cardiac arrest may occur with blood Mg levels >6.0–7.5 mmol/L.

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