Pedialyte is an electrolyte rehydration solution commonly used in humans, especially young children. In some cases, it is used in cats to help replenish electrolytes and prevent dehydration. In this article, you’ll learn what Pedialyte is, how it’s different from sports drinks, basic guidelines for using it, and some frequently asked questions.
Quick Overview: Pedialyte for Cats
Oral Electrolyte Rehydration Solution
Do I need a prescription? :
1 liter bottle Classic Unflavored (usually recommended).
Valid period range:
Products should be used before the expiration date on the packaging. Tablets should be stored at room temperature and protected from moisture.
About Pedialyte for Cats
Pedialyte is a common over-the-counter oral rehydration solution that is popular in families with young children to help prevent dehydration and replace electrolytes when fluid and electrolytes are lost due to vomiting and/or diarrhea. Important electrolytes contained in Pedilalyte include sodium, potassium and chloride.
For similar reasons, adults can also use Pedialyte or as a low-sugar alternative to sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade, which are often higher in sugar.
Pedialyte is most commonly supplied in a 1 liter liquid container, but is also available in powder form for mixing. Pedialyte comes in many sub-species and is used for exercise, immune support, and more.
Pedialyte can be used in cats, but usually with some degree of moderation, and only for mild disease. In these cases, most veterinary experts recommend unflavored Classic Pedialyte.
Also read: Dehydration in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
What’s the difference between Pedialyte and sports drinks?
It’s important to understand how Pedialyte differs from sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. The main difference is the sugar content. Pedialyte does contain some sugar, but it’s much lower than typical sports drinks.
Sports drinks are designed to provide quick hydration and energy when you’re sweating profusely and depleting your body’s energy reserves through exercise. Pedialyte is more suitable for rehydration due to loss of electrolytes due to vomiting or diarrhea.
The reason we want to use products that are lower in sugar is because eating something higher in sugar can actually stimulate the digestive tract to release more fluid and electrolytes, which can make diarrhea worse.
Also read: Hypoglycemia in Felines: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
What does Pedialyte do for cats?
Pedialyte can be safely used in cats for mild gastrointestinal fluid loss (such as vomiting and diarrhea), or when the cat is not eating enough food or water and electrolyte loss is a problem. When discussing Pedialyte for cats it is best to use the classic unscented form which is commonly available in 1 liter capacity. Pedialyte is not intended for regular use or as a daily support supplement.
So when is the best time to use it? Generally, we’re talking about supportive care for cases of mild gastrointestinal distress that lasts less than 12 to 24 hours. The goal of Pedialyte is to prevent dehydration or to help mild dehydration. If gastrointestinal fluid loss results in more severe dehydration or signs persist for more than 24 hours, veterinary care should be sought rather than continuing efforts to home treatment.
While some pet owners may feel that oral rehydration at home seems like a much better option than taking their cat to the veterinarian for injectables, the fact that injectables are absorbed more quickly and completely by the body is understandable. In cats, veterinarians can administer fluids in the subcutaneous space without placing an IV catheter, which is almost always required in humans.
While more serious emergencies may require intravenous fluids, many outpatient cases of cat vomiting or diarrhea can be treated with subcutaneous fluids, which only take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
Also read: Fluid Therapy for Cats
Pedialyte Side Effects in Cats
Pedialyte is generally safe for use in cats when used in moderation. However, it is not labeled for cats, so it is best to consult your veterinarian to ensure that using Pedialyte at home matches your cat’s medical history.
The main problem with any rehydration solution is that the high sugar content may make the condition worse. That’s why it’s best to use unflavored classic Pedialyte.
Pedialyte is not considered a major risk of zinc toxicity, although there have been concerns about the zinc content in Pedialyte. The milligrams in Classic Pedialyte are very low at 2.8 mg per 12 oz. The 50% lethal dose (LD50) for zinc has been proposed to be 100 mg/kg or approximately 450 mg for an average 10 lb cat. Given the dosing guidelines to follow, no cat should approach this worrisome dose when using Pediayte.
Also read: Furosemide for Felines: Overview, Dosing, and Side Effects
Pedialyte Cat Dosage
There is no established dose of Pedialyte for cats. It is best to discuss any home remedies with your veterinarian first to help determine whether a veterinary check-up is recommended rather than continuing with home remedies.
The following guidelines were developed based on the authors’ collective recommendations and clinical experience. For mild gastrointestinal fluid loss (vomiting or diarrhea) or loss of appetite that lasts less than 12 to 24 hours:
For cats that drink water on their own: For larger kittens and regular adult cats weighing 5 pounds or more, and for cats still actively drinking, start with 1 teaspoon and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water in the water dish. A small amount of tuna juice can be added and mixed with the solution to help improve palatability. This mixture can be offered hourly if the cat is actively drinking and controlling fluids. Plain water should be provided in the middle.
For adult cats who are unwilling to actively drink water: The fluid can be infused carefully by mouth using a small syringe (without a needle). 1 to 2 mL of Pedialyte (approximately ¼ to ½ teaspoon) can be given at a time, no more often than once an hour. A little tuna juice mixed in may help improve palatability.
Whenever liquids are given by mouth, there is a potential risk of aspiration, where the liquid is aspirated rather than swallowed, which can lead to very serious complications. Fluids given by syringe should always be injected directly into the cheek pouch or inserted into the front of the mouth to allow the cat time to swallow.
Give the fluid in ½ to 1 ml increments to allow the cat time to swallow on its own. Never force larger volumes deep in the mouth as this greatly increases the risk of aspiration.
For kittens: For newborn kittens still on a cow’s milk diet, a small amount of Pedialyte can be mixed with Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) formula for added electrolyte support. This should not exceed approximately 1/8 to 1/4 of the total infusion volume. Pedialyte can be added to ad libitum feeding bowls and canned food with KMR, or it can be administered with a syringe or dropper bottle with KMR.
For newborns, Pedialyte can also be given alone with a dropper to dehydrated kittens, giving a few drops every 30 minutes to an hour to provide electrolyte support.
For non-newborn kittens weighing less than 5 lbs, you can set the volume to ½ 1 ml per hour.
Also read: Kidney Failure in Felines: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Pedialyte Cat: Summary
Oral Rehydration Salts Pedialyte helps replenish electrolytes and prevent dehydration in cats that have recently shown signs of mild vomiting or diarrhea. It is safe to use in moderation, only when needed, and as early as possible.
Seek veterinary care for cats with chronic gastrointestinal disease, moderate to severe fluid loss, and a loss of appetite for more than 24 hours. Any cat or kitten that appears weak or lethargic with signs of illness should also see a veterinarian as soon as possible before trying other home remedies.
Also read: Sudden Lethargy and Weakness in Cats: Causes and Treatment
frequently asked questions
How much Pedialyte can I give my cat?
The key to using Pedialyte for cats is to use it in moderation and only in cases of minor gastrointestinal distress to provide some basic support. Cats over 5 lbs may tolerate 1 to 2 mL per hour, either orally or in a water bowl, to provide electrolyte loss support. For cats weighing less than 5 pounds (except newborns), aim for 1/2 to 1 mL.
Newborn kittens can use a dropper to give a few drops of Pedialyte every 30 minutes to an hour, or mix Pedialyte with KMR as a small part of the total solution.
What can I give my cat to dehydrate?
It depends on the degree of dehydration. Pull up the skin on the cat’s neck or over the shoulder blades to check the skin elasticity for signs of dehydration. If the skin takes longer than a second or two to snap back into place, you may be more dehydrated than the ORS can provide. In these cases, injections provided by your cat’s veterinarian are more ideal, while also identifying the cause of dehydration.
If no obvious “skin tent” exists and your goal is to provide some basic support to prevent further electrolyte loss and dehydration, Pedialyte is safe for short-term moderate use, typically for signs of illness lasting less than 12 days to 24 hours .
Are there electrolyte drinks for cats?
Pedialyte is most commonly used because it is trusted by human parents and readily available. However, there are similar electrolyte solutions developed for pets that follow similar guidelines in terms of ingredients. It’s important to remember that none of these solutions are FDA-approved for use in pets, and like most supplements, they should be used with caution and under the advice of your pet’s veterinarian.
How to make Pedialyte for cats?
Never try to make or mix your own version of Pedialyte at home for your cat. Pedialyte and other similar pet oral rehydration solutions have carefully formulated amounts of electrolytes in the ingredients. Adding table salt, sugar, minerals, or other ingredients to make your own solution can have unintended consequences, such as sodium toxicity, that will only make things worse for your cat.
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