First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

What is Baking Soda Allergy?

Baking soda is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and an acid, usually cream of tartar, that is used for multiple purposes around the house, especially for cleaning and deodorizing projects.  It is a common litter box additive, either intentionally or unintentionally when it is an ingredient in some cat litters.  As a rule, because the baking soda is not tasty, it is not consumed by either humans or pets in a quantity sufficient to cause problems.  But, in some cases, some feline family members will imbibe in sufficient amounts to be problematic, and for some cats, it can be fatal.

Baking soda allergy in cats can be defined as a condition in which the consumption of large amounts of baking soda (a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and an acid like cream of tartar) causes an electrolyte irregularity in cats.

Symptoms of Baking Soda Allergy in Cats

The symptoms of baking soda allergy in cats relate to the irregularity of electrolyte balances and, accordingly, the body system affected by the electrolyte which is out of whack will determine the symptoms your pet will demonstrate.  Here is a non-exhaustive list of the types of symptoms you might notice in your feline family member:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disorientation 
  • Heart rate irregularities
  • Muscle weakness, paralysis
  • Urine color changes
  • Increased thirst
  • Anemia

If you note any of these symptoms, call your veterinary professional as soon as possible for evaluation.

Types 

The types of baking soda allergy in cats relates to the electrolyte which is imbalanced but here are some of the areas or systems which can suffer from various electrolyte irregularities:

  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Kidney failure - chronic and acute
  • Ataxia - muscle weakness and paralysis
  • Breathing problems
  • Neurological problems

The most common electrolytes to become imbalanced with baking soda toxicity is potassium, calcium and phosphorous, but there are many other essential elements which also need to be in proper balance for the feline body to function in all areas as it was designed.

Causes of Baking Soda Allergy in Cats

Electrolyte disturbances or imbalances are the root cause of the symptoms of baking soda allergy in cats.  Consumption of sufficient amounts of baking soda can cause chemical reactions in the digestive system which will upset the delicate balance of electrolytes that is needed for the appropriate functioning of a variety, if not all, feline body systems.  Some of the systems which are affected are:

  • Cardiac - Heart rate abnormalities and congestive heart failure
  • Renal - Decreased kidney function ranging from mild to severe kidney failure
  • Neurological - Muscular dysfunction and spasms
  • Neurological - Lack of muscle coordination as well as disorientation
  • Neurological - Tremors and seizures
  • Endocrine - Anemia, diabetes mellitus

These conditions can result from imbalances in potassium, phosphorous and calcium primarily, though other electrolyte imbalances may also be components of them.  Some of the conditions which can cause electrolyte disturbances in cats:

  • Diabetes or high blood sugars
  • Gastrointestinal issues resulting in vomiting and diarrhea
  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • Thyroid disease or dysfunction
  • Malnutrition
  • Cancer

This list is certainly not an exhaustive one.

Diagnosis of Baking Soda Allergy in Cats

Diagnosing the disease of which your feline family member is suffering will ultimately be reflective of the electrolytes which are imbalanced and the body system affected by that imbalance.  Regardless of the ultimate diagnosis, the first thing your veterinary professional will require is a complete history from you which includes the foods being fed and the duration of that diet, the symptoms, the history and the duration of those symptoms that you have noticed plus any other unusual behavior that you may have noticed in your feline family member.  

Your veterinary professional will do a physical examination which may include radiographic imaging (x-rays) or CT imaging to get a look at the size and position of the kidneys as well as other organs and surrounding tissue.  Blood work and perhaps some other tissue samples may also be ordered to assess the electrolyte values so that he can determine if an imbalance is present and potentially responsible for the symptoms and clinical signs noted in the afflicted feline.  The blood chemistry panel will also reveal the presence of a bacterial infection or other inflammation if it is present. Creatinine levels will be of interest as abnormal levels of creatinine and BUN (blood urea nitrogen) will be reflective of loss of kidney function.  Blood cultures will also provide more information on the various components of the blood to give a more complete picture of the disease process which is attacking your pet.  

Urinalysis will be done to determine if waste is being eliminated through the kidneys. In the event that kidney disease is suspected, for example, it will need to be determined if it is acute or chronic, as this will affect the treatment.  There may be other tests which may be ordered if cardiac, neurological, endocrine or gastric issues are detected or suspected.   Once all of the results of these tests and imaging studies are collated, an appropriate treatment plan will be developed and initiated by your vet.

Treatment of Baking Soda Allergy in Cats

If renal failure is found to be the end result of the baking soda allergy in your cat, it will be determined if acute or chronic, or if the disease is found to be due to thyroid disease (either hypo or hyper), cardiac, gastrointestinal, diabetes or high blood pressure, treatment plans may vary based upon that diagnosis as well as the condition of the afflicted feline.  Treatments will be recommended and administered accordingly.  If the condition of your pet is emergent, the first steps will be to stabilize the feline in whatever manner the patient’s condition requires.  While the ultimate treatment will depend upon the system affected by the imbalance of electrolytes, some of the treatment options might include:

  • Medications given orally or intravenously to stabilize your pet 
  • Special dietary changes 
  • Kidney transplantation or dialysis 
  • Treatment of underlying disease process especially in the case of thyroid diseases
  • Treatments to decrease blood sugar levels 
  • Medications to treat and regulate blood pressure as well as those to regulate heart rates

Recovery of Baking Soda Allergy in Cats

As noted above, the taste of baking soda generally reduces the opportunity of large enough quantities of it to be consumed, either by humans or animals, which would endanger or sicken the host.  But, if we know cats, you know how curious they can be.  Small amounts of baking soda may not cause any problems at all for some cats while it can be quite sickening to others.  The amount which is considered toxic to your cat is greater than a third of a tablespoon (or about 1 teaspoon).  

Being aware of that as well as that some cats can be more sensitive than others to baking soda will help you to develop habits which will limit the contact your feline family member has to baking soda as you utilize it around the house for cleaning and disinfecting tasks.  The important thing to remember is that if you note any of the symptoms noted above, do not hesitate to call your veterinary professional as soon as possible for his assessment.