What is Too Much Acid in the Body?
First, the kidneys produce bicarbonate ions, which are alkaline and counter acid. The kidneys also flush out excess acid in the urine. Too much acid in the body in cats, also known as metabolic acidosis, occurs when the kidneys cease to perform this function, allowing acid to build up in the blood and body and causing a variety of harmful symptoms.
The body of your cat is made up of a delicate balance of acid and base, or alkaline, materials. Your cat takes in acid through nutrition, meaning food. In a healthy cat, the kidneys and lungs will balance out or eliminate excess acid. The kidneys are mostly responsible for eliminating excess acid from the body through two separate functions.
Symptoms of Too Much Acid in the Body in Cats
When the acid levels in the body in your cat start to rise, many different symptoms begin to develop. As the acid levels increase, symptoms begin to escalate rapidly in severity. If not treated, high acid levels will eventually cause organ problems and shutdown.
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Bony spine
- Muscle loss
- Mouth Ulcers
- Cat “spacing” out
- Heavy breathing
- Eventual heart palpitations, damage or failure
Causes of Too Much Acid in the Body in Cats
The kidneys are the main regulators of acid levels in the body. Therefore, the largest cause of metabolic acidosis, or too much acid in the body in your cat, revolves around some form of kidney dysfunction, damage, or excessive increase in acid ingestion. The common causes of this condition include:
- Ingestion of large amounts of acidic foods
- Antifreeze poisoning
- Chronic kidney disease
- Trauma or injury to the kidneys
- Ingestion of aspirin
Diagnosis of Too Much Acid in the Body in Cats
As with any serious condition, diagnosis of metabolic acidosis will begin with a thorough physical examination by your veterinarian. Your vet will examine gum color and eyes for any discoloration. They will also physically manipulate the abdomen of your cat, feeling manually for any lumps, bumps or swelling.
As a pet owner, it will be important that you provide your veterinarian with a thorough medical history. Underlying conditions, such as chronic kidney failure or diabetes, are primary causes of too much acid in the body. It is very important that you disclose the presence of these conditions so that your cat gets the proper care.
There are several blood and urine tests available to diagnoses metabolic acidosis in your cat. The two simplest tests involve testing for potassium levels in the blood and analyzing the pH level of the urine. While both of these may give some indication of too much acid in the body when combined with your cat’s medical history, the definitive blood test is an arterial blood gas analysis. This test requires your cat to be sedated and is only performed at specialty vet schools. While it is the most accurate, it is not the most widely available.
Treatment of Too Much Acid in the Body in Cats
The primary treatment of too much acid in the body in cats involves supporting and treating the underlying kidney dysfunction in your cat. With proper support, in most cases, your cat’s kidneys can begin regulating acid levels in the body. In some cases, however, this is not possible. For example, in cases of chronic kidney disease, the dysfunction and damage of the kidneys is not correctable.
If your cat’s case requires management as opposed to a cure, the vet will often prescribe dietary changes and medication. These can include fluid therapy, which increases the fluid levels and the amount of acid flushed out of the body as a result. Treatment with bicarbonate of soda or potassium citrate, two highly alkaline solutions, also helps lower acid levels in the body. After undergoing these treatments, the acid levels in the body of your cat should begin to drop precipitously, putting your cat on the road to recovery quickly.
Recovery of Too Much Acid in the Body in Cats
The prognosis for recovery from too much acid in the body of your cat will depend on the underlying cause. Food imbalances are typically easy to correct, requiring minimal doses of alkaline or medicinal treatments in order to bring the body back to a proper balance. For poisoning or acute toxicity, it will be important to monitor your cat for any potential damage to organs or other bodily functions.
In cats with kidney failure or chronic kidney disease, proper medication dosage and timing will be key to avoid a recurrence of metabolic acidosis. It is important to have your cat’s internal pH levels regularly tested to avoid any additional stress or strain on their organs or bodily functions. With proper treatment and management, too much acid in the body of the cats can be well controlled and should not have a long-term impact on the health and lifespan of your cat.