Aspirin , a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which has beneficial effects for some animals. It has been used for conditions related to blood clotting and inflammation, and for its pain-relieving properties . However, you should not forget the toxicity of aspirin for cats.
Aspirin should only be administered to cats under strict veterinary supervision .
Once ingested, aspirin forms salicylic acid , which is distributed throughout the body. Aspirin toxicity is due to cats lacking the critical enzyme necessary to properly metabolize salicylic acid.
Here is what you should take into account when administering aspirin to your feline. Do not forget that it can be one of the lethal medications for your cat .
You may be interested in reading the article: The dangers of administering ibuprofen for cats .
What makes aspirin so toxic to cats?
UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1-6 (UGT1A6) is an enzyme produced by the liver and encoded by a gene of the same name. UGT1A6 helps detoxify plant-based toxins (phytoalexins) through a process called glucuronidation.
As cats evolved, they produce a minimal amount of UGT1A6 compared to other animals and people. Since a cat’s diet is primarily carnivorous, it had no need for UGT1A6 to help detoxify plant-based toxins.
Cats also lack N-acetyltransferase 2, an enzyme in humans encoded in the NA2 gene, N-acetyltransferase 2 detoxifies certain drugs and metabolites.
All this makes it take a cat’s body longer to metabolize aspirin than a human or dog. The biological half-life of aspirin in cats is approximately 40 hours compared to 7.5 hours in dogs.
Symptoms of Aspirin Toxicity in Cats
The first signs of aspirin toxicity are loss of appetite and vomiting . As many parts of the body are affected, symptoms can vary and include the following.
- Gastrointestinal disorders
Gastrointestinal disorders are usually the first symptoms to appear, aspirin irritates the gastric mucosa. The symptoms are:
- Vomiting (which may contain blood)
- Black stools
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain.
- Ulceration and perforation of the stomach.
- Stimulation of the respiratory center
Aspirin stimulates the respiratory center (located in the brain):
- Fast breathing.
- Respiratory alkalosis (increased respiration raises the pH of the blood).
- Acute renal failure
- Threw up.
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst.
- Hepatic failure
- Jaundice (yellowing of the gums and mucous membranes).
Even with a suitable dose, aspirin in cats can produce these symptoms , therefore, you need to monitor your cat for any digestive problems or changes in behavior when you give him an aspirin prescribed by a veterinarian.
If you take a significant amount of aspirin, emergency veterinary treatment will be necessary.
Diagnosis of Aspirin Toxicity in Cats
If you know, or suspect that your cat has ingested aspirin, and shows apparent symptoms of toxicity, promptly inform a vet.
Diagnostic tests should be based on determining the severity of toxicity and on the history of aspirin intake.
The blood test is necessary to evaluate the kidneys, liver, electrolytes (important chemicals that allow the body’s cells to function properly), and blood counts.
Chest x-rays can identify lung disorders secondary to aspirin poisoning. Bleeding tests should also be considered to assess the pet’s clotting ability.
Treatment of Aspirin Toxicity in Cats
Treatment for aspirin poisoning depends on how quickly the vet sees the cat. When aspirin was recently ingested, it is normal to induce vomiting.
If you see your cat within two hours of ingestion, the vet will administer activated charcoal .
After more than two hours have elapsed since ingestion, or there is severe aspirin toxicity, treatment will consist of management of clinical signs, metabolic abnormalities, and liver disease.
Aggressive intravenous fluids will be administered, as well as stomach protectors and antacids. Anti-vomiting medications can also be helpful in some cases. Liver enzyme and kidney values will be monitored by blood tests. In case of respiratory complications, oxygen supplements will be administered. For perforated ulcers, surgery may be necessary.
Aspirin precautions for cats
It is important to adhere to the recommended dosing regimen if aspirin is to be used in a cat. The dosage form is quite different for dogs than it is for cats.
Do not use human medication on pets without specific instructions on how to do it safely from your vet.
Aspirin will reduce blood flow through the kidney, which will likely make pre-existing kidney disease worse.
The enteric coating in aspirin can change the way it is absorbed from the stomach. The pills tend to stick to the stomach lining rather than dissolving properly. If enough tablets accumulate, an overdose and death can occur. Only non-enteric coated aspirin is recommended.
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