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What is Yeast Allergy?

A yeast allergy in a cat is considered a type of food allergy.  However, most cases when a cat ingests yeast it is actually not an allergy to it but a toxicity from it.  If this happens to your cat, he needs immediate medical attention from a veterinarian.  If not treated immediately, it can be fatal.  He will be treated symptomatically with supportive therapies and medications, and in more serious cases, he may have to have his stomach pumped.  Even if you are able to get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible, prognosis of recovery is guarded due to the severity of yeast toxicity.

The ingestion of yeast may cause an allergic reaction or a development of toxicity to it.  If your cat ingested enough yeast to cause toxicosis, it should be treated as a medical emergency.

Symptoms of Yeast Allergy in Cats

Symptoms of a yeast allergy may include:

  • Drooling
  • Retching
  • Vomiting 
  • Distended stomach
  • Weakness
  • Hypotension
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Collapse
  • Coma
  • Hypothermia
  • Death

Types

There are a variety of yeast products used in cooking.  It can be found in any type of uncooked dough such as bread dough, pizza dough, and certain desserts.  It can also be found in other dishes as a way to make certain ingredients ferment.  If your cat eats any form or brand of a yeast product, it can cause an allergic reaction or severe toxicosis.

Causes of Yeast Allergy in Cats

Yeast can be found in many food ingredients.  If your cat comes into contact with it via unbaked bread dough, it can actually be poisonous.  The warm, moist environment of the stomach is the perfect environment for the yeast to expand and possibly lead to bloat.  In addition to a bloated stomach, the unbaked yeast dough will begin to ferment after ingested.  The fermentation process results in the production of alcohol and carbon dioxide.  The alcohol gets absorbed by the blood stream which in turn leads to alcohol poisoning in your cat.

Diagnosis of Yeast Allergy in Cats

The very first thing your veterinarian will want to do when you arrive at the clinic is stabilize your cat.  If he ingested a large amount that has resulted in a toxic reaction, it can be life threatening.  The veterinarian will make sure his breathing is normal, his blood pressure is stable, and his heart rate is within a normal range. He may need to be placed on oxygen and have blood work done immediately to stabilize him to and give the veterinarian an idea of what type of toxicity she is dealing with.

The veterinarian will need to watch for the development of metabolic acidosis and depression of the central nervous system.  She will want to perform blood work to check your feline’s glucose level within the blood and to check his organ function levels.  Since alcohol is excreted through the lungs and kidneys, blood work should be done periodically throughout the treatment process to monitor blood levels.  

The vet will use monitoring equipment such as an ECG to monitor the heart rate and an SPO2 meter to monitor oxygen saturation within the blood.  She may want to take radiographs of the heart, lungs and stomach to check for changes related to his condition.  She will need to make sure his heart looks normal and healthy.  As for the lungs, the veterinarian will want to check for fluid accumulation or excess gasses in the area.  The image of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract can indicate if there is gas within the tract and the severity of possible bloat.  She may also utilize ultrasound imaging to evaluate the internal body system.  

If you witnessed your cat eating something that lead to the symptoms he is now experiencing, tell your veterinarian.  It will help her come to a proper diagnosis much quicker and therefore, begin proper treatments for your cat much sooner.

Treatment of Yeast Allergy in Cats

Your veterinarian may choose to induce vomiting; however, the glutinous nature of the bread dough may make this difficult.  She may then place a gastric tube to help expel the gas within the GI tract.  In more severe cases, your veterinarian may need to perform gastric lavage with cold water (pump the stomach). The cold water may help slow the fermentation.  She will also administer IV fluids to prevent your feline from becoming dehydrated and to keep his blood and system flowing as much as possible.

The veterinarian will also have to monitor the alcohol levels within the blood by monitoring acid-base abnormalities.  She will offer supportive therapies and medications as needed by your cat’s condition.  For example, the medication yohimbine may be used to treat comatose dogs with alcohol toxicosis and it may be useful in your cat.

If your cat is experiencing only a mild allergic reaction to yeast, his symptoms will be mild and treatment will be in response to the symptoms he develops.  For example, if he is itching or has developed skin lesions, medications like antihistamines or steroids can calm it down.  However, it is extremely important your veterinarian not give any medications that can react negatively with the yeast.

Recovery of Yeast Allergy in Cats

If your cat is experiencing a true toxicity from the yeast, his prognosis of recovery is guarded to poor.  If he is only experiencing an allergic reaction, his symptoms can be treated individually.  It would be best to remove the yeast source from his diet and give his system time to remove it completely from his digestive tract.  Symptoms should resolve with removal of it from his diet and with proper symptomatic care.