Lactose Intolerance Average Cost

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What is Lactose Intolerance?

Many cats do love the taste of cow's milk and other dairy products, which prompts their owners to give it as a treat. In cats with very little or no lactase enzymes, the body is unable to digest the milk and instead attempts to expel it from the system. The undigested lactose sugars in the intestinal tract begin to draw all sorts of bacteria. The sugar then ferments, causing adverse reactions by the stomach and gastrointestinal system. This manifests as stomach acid and painful gas in the cat.

Adult cats are naturally 100% carnivorous. While the digestive system of a kitten can handle milk produced by its mother, as the cat grows it loses this ability. This is because the body no longer needs to produce the lactase enzyme, needed to digest lactose sugar in milk. Some adult cats merely slow down production, while others stop it all together. This in itself is not an actual disorder, but rather a natural occurrence in the maturity of a cat's digestive system.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance in Cats

Milk consumption may cause your cat's digestive system to go into distress. This is separate from an allergic reaction, in which the immune system triggers a response within the body when a certain food is consumed. Signs of intolerance include:

  • Excessive gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Polydipsia (increased thirst)
  • Dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry gums

Causes of Lactose Intolerance in Cats

The general genetic makeup of cats is what causes an intolerance to lactose. Milk is not a natural food for adult cats. Because it is inappropriate for the species, their bodies do not carry the proper enzymes for milk digestion. The outcome of this intolerance will be seen when the cat ingests milk or other dairy products. The severity of the reaction within the body will vary depending on the amount of lactase enzymes in the cat's digestive tract. Genetic differences from cat to cat will create different levels of intolerance. 

Diagnosis of Lactose Intolerance in Cats

If you become concerned with the severity of symptoms, it is always best to bring the cat to your veterinarian to have it checked. This is especially the case if a long period of diarrhea or vomiting has left your cat showing signs of dehydration. Be sure to inform your vet of any milk or dairy that has been fed to the cat leading up to the adverse symptoms. The vet will then determine the best way to differentiate lactose Intolerance from other, more serious health conditions that exhibit matching reactions from the body. 

A physical examination of the cat will be performed to check for possible underlying issues such as gastrointestinal disease. At this point, tests will also be performed to determine how dehydrated the cat has become. A skin turgor test can reveal dehydration by seeing how long it takes the cat's neck skin to return to position after being gently pulled upward. Capillary refill time will also indicate dehydration, if it takes a lengthened time for the gums to regain normal color after being pressed. The veterinarian will also want to differentiate the episode of intolerance from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastrointestinal cancer, and bacterial infection. A fecal sample may be gathered to test for parasites in the body. Blood work will be run including a complete blood count and a biochemical profile to monitor the overall health of the cat. An abdominal x-ray may be suggested to confirm that there are no abnormalities present.

Treatment of Lactose Intolerance in Cats

While long-term treatment simply requires eliminating milk and dairy products from the cat's diet, symptoms may need to be alleviated in the short term to lessen the amount of pain the cat goes through. If the cat has become severely dehydrated, more treatment may be necessary.

Intravenous Fluids 

If the cat has been vomiting or expelling diarrhea for a lengthened period of time, bodily fluids may need to be replaced intravenously. Hospitalization is required for this process.

Subcutaneous Fluid Administration 

If the cat is mildly dehydrated, your vet may administer fluid via a syringe into the loose skin on the back of the cat's neck. You may be given tools for continued at-home subcutaneous fluid administration.

Recovery of Lactose Intolerance in Cats

If your cat became dehydrated from symptoms of lactose intolerance, be sure to supply it with fresh water multiple times a day while it recovers. Eliminate all pasteurized milk products from your cat's diet to ensure the episode does not happen again. Lactose-free milk is not an appropriate alternative as it has excess sugar in it. Obesity can have multiple adverse effects on cats, and a high sugar liquid should not be a part of a cat's regular diet.

It should be noted that unpasteurized milk products are less likely to produce gastrointestinal distress, as the bacteria present in the dairy has already broken down much of the lactose. This makes items such as unpasteurized plain yogurt and cheddar or cottage cheeses a better option if your cat simply loves milk-based treats. At the most, these items should be given on occasion as they are not a natural part of a cat's diet. 

Lactose Intolerance Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

5 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Bloated stomache, frequent urinati

I fed my 5 month old kitten milk and shredded cheese a week ago while I was in the kitchen. Now his stomache is super abnormally bloated and hes constantly drinking and urinating. What can I do until I get him to the vet?

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3 Months
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Off balance
Blood In Stool

Our kitten, Roku, was given some milk and he now has blood in his stool, diarrhea and seems very off balance. He is typically a pretty active cat, and loves to cuddle but lately he has been very tired and he doesn’t want to be held. We got him from a foster home a little over a week ago and he seemed fine then. He has been eating and drinking regularly but his stool is more liquid than normal and has blood in it. He has only had milk once and it has been almost 4 days and he still isn’t doing well. We saw a vet but unfortunately forgot to tell them he had drank milk. All of his vitals were normal and he seemed fine but later that day he used the litter box and his stool again was liquid. We are currently trying to schedule anther appointment at the vet. How long can we expect this to last? What can we do to help him in the meantime?

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1 and a halfish
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


My cat has had diarrhea for maybe less than a week, I am not 100% sure when it started but I do know it has not been more than a week. She is acting completely normal besides that (although she does want to be by me more). But I think she drank some milk out of my cup sometime last week (I can't remember when it was) and if it could relate to why she is having diarrhea. How long could the diarrhea last? She was eating and drinking fine, maybe a little bit more drinking than normal. A vet friend of mine said to put her on a bland diet which I am attmepting to do (she does not know about the milkl though since I just remembered it) but Smokey doesn't really want anything to do with the boiled hamburger, anytime I pull out food she is trying to eat mine. Any ideas? On Saturday she was still having diarrhea but it looked somewhat like there might have blood or something in it as well.

Please help, I am worried about her because she is my baby.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Chronic diarrhoea may be caused by a few different conditions which include dietary changes, allergies, parasites, infections, poisoning, foreign objects among other issues; colitis is a strong possibility and should be treated with a bland diet, if you leave her long enough she will be hungry enough to eat it. If it is colitis, medical therapy may be required as well (antibiotics, anthelmintic and/or corticosteroids). If this continues she should be seen by your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

She wants to eat her regualar cat food through? what is the possibility of it being from her drinking the milk that I had because I do not think she has ever had milk before. If it is from the milk how long could the diarrhea last?

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Whiskers of course
Calico Cat
2 Years
Mild condition
2 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

abdominal pain

Mama cat and she got a hold of some cream she was feeding her babies but now she's has abdominal plant pain and it feels tight around her nipples how long will the lactose intolerant last in her I'm currently feeding the kittens bye bottle it's working just fine I just need to see if she'll be able to feed them again she's definitely in pain when you grab her

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
There is no set time frame for abdominal pain after consuming cream, the symptoms may improve after a few hours or may take a few days; you should continue with kitten milk replacer for the time being and ensure that Whiskers is otherwise in good spirits and is keeping hydrated. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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8 Weeks
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


My family fed my eight week old kitten lactose free milk and now he has diahrrea, what are some over the counter things i can do or treatments i can do for him?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Diarrhea in kittens can be caused by a food change, parasites, infectious disease, or intestinal infection. Without knowing the actual cause, I can't comment on how to treat Coco, and it would be best if he were seen by a veterinarian and had a stool sample analyzed to make sure the cause is addressed properly.

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