Magnesium physiology and clinical therapy in veterinary critical care

J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio). 2015 Mar-Apr;25(2):210-25. doi: 10.1111/vec.12253. Epub 2014 Nov 26.


Objective: To review magnesium physiology including absorption, excretion, and function within the body, causes of magnesium abnormalities, and the current applications of magnesium monitoring and therapy in people and animals.

Etiology: Magnesium plays a pivotal role in energy production and specific functions in every cell in the body. Disorders of magnesium can be correlated with severity of disease, length of hospital stay, and recovery of the septic patient. Hypermagnesemia is seen infrequently in people and animals with significant consequences reported. Hypomagnesemia is more common in critically ill people and animals, and can be associated with platelet, immune system, neurological, and cardiovascular dysfunction as well as alterations in insulin responsiveness and electrolyte imbalance.

Diagnosis: Measurement of serum ionized magnesium in critically or chronically ill veterinary patients is practical and provides information necessary for stabilization and treatment. Tissue magnesium concentrations may be assessed using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy as well as through the application of fluorescent dye techniques.

Therapy: Magnesium infusions may play a therapeutic role in reperfusion injury, myocardial ischemia, cerebral infarcts, systemic inflammatory response syndromes, tetanus, digitalis toxicity, bronchospasms, hypercoagulable states, and as an adjunct to specific anesthetic or analgesic protocols. Further veterinary studies are needed to establish the frequency and importance of magnesium disorders in animals and the potential benefit of magnesium infusions as a therapeutic adjunct to specific diseases.

Prognosis: The prognosis for most patients with magnesium disorders is variable and largely dependent on the underlying cause of the disorder.

Keywords: cat; cations; dog; electrolyte disturbances; metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Imbalance / blood
  • Acid-Base Imbalance / drug therapy
  • Acid-Base Imbalance / veterinary*
  • Animals
  • Critical Care
  • Critical Illness
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Infusions, Intravenous / veterinary
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium / blood
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use*
  • Multiple Organ Failure / blood
  • Multiple Organ Failure / drug therapy
  • Multiple Organ Failure / veterinary*
  • Prognosis
  • Veterinary Medicine


  • Magnesium