What is Lactic Acid Build-Up?
Lactic acid buildup in cats happens when a normally occurring chemical, lactic acid, is not properly disposed of by your cat’s internal systems. In a healthy cat, lactic acid is produced in the muscles after intense physical activity. Excess lactic acid is then disposed of by your cat’s organs, including their kidneys and liver. Lactic acid build-up, or lactic acidosis, happens when these processes cease to function and lactic acid accumulates in the body.
Symptoms of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Cats
Lactic acid buildup in your cat typically will occur due to an underlying condition or disease. While these underlying conditions may vary, there are symptoms to watch for that may indicate your cat is suffering from lactic acid build up.
- Rapid breathing
- Stomach Pains
- Lack of appetite
Prolonged lactic acid build up may result in:
- Heart issues
- Organ failure
- Traumatic Shock
Causes of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Cats
There are a number of underlying conditions that can cause lactic acid build-up. Since this tends to be a symptom of a systemic disease or condition, there may be other symptoms to indicate the cause of lactic acid build up. Some of the underlying conditions that cause lactic acid build up are:
- Heart failure
- Liver failure
- Insufficient oxygen in the blood
Diagnosis of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Cats
As with many disorders, your vet will begin the diagnosis of lactic acid buildup in your cat by conducting a thorough examination. Your veterinarian will be attempting to rule out other serious conditions. They will also be attempting to determine the underlying cause of the lactic acid build up. An examination of the gums and the pads of the feet may help determine proper hydration. The proper pink color of the gums will also help rule out, or identify, anemia in your cat.
In addition to the exam, your veterinarian will conduct a full series of blood tests in order to measure the levels of lactic acid in your cat’s blood. A blood test is conducted with a simple blood draw, performed by your veterinarian or a vet-tech. A needle will be inserted into your cat’s vein and a small quantity of blood removed into a sterile container. The blood will then be sent to a specialized laboratory for testing.
During the blood draw, your cat may need to be restrained or held down, in order to facilitate the insertion of the needle. Typically, anesthesia is not needed for this type of procedure. This is a relatively painless process for your cat and is the definitive method for diagnosing lactic acid build up. Both the blood tests and the physical exam will also aid your veterinarian in determining the underlying cause of the condition.
Treatment of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Cats
Treatment of lactic acid buildup in your cat will depend on the underlying condition. In the case of dehydration, a simple saline solution may be given subcutaneously. In the case of anemia, your veterinarian may administer a blood transfusion in the most severe cases. For most cases of anemia, however, simple supplements given orally, preceded by an initial injection in your vet’s office, are enough to eliminate the symptoms.
One of the main concerns of lactic acid build up is that the initial symptoms can be mild and vary. This may cause pet owners to delay in taking their cat in for treatment. By the time an owner has brought their cat in for an exam, the symptoms may have progressed to organ shutdown or failure. In this case, your cat will need to be stabilized with fluids, medications, and general veterinary support before treatment of the underlying condition can begin.
Recovery of Lactic Acid Build-Up in Cats
The prognosis for recovery from lactic acid build-up in your cat will vary on the cause of the condition. In the case of dehydration or anemia, once the fluids or iron are administered, your cat will immediately begin to improve. Your cat should be monitored regularly to ensure that the condition is not chronic. With property continuation of medication in these two underlying causes, your cat can lead a long and healthy life.
For many of the other potential underlying causes of lactic acid build up in cats, the outlook is guarded to fair. Leukemia and liver or other organ failure are all serious conditions that may result in death or serious long term injury if not treated immediately. In the case of infection, all prescribed antibiotic medications must be given as a complete course, regardless of whether your cat begins to improve or is still showing symptoms.
Overall, given the variety of underlying causes and the serious nature if the condition goes on too long, if you suspect lactic acid build up in your cat it will be important to get to your veterinarian as quickly as possible to give your pet an excellence chance at recovery.