It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that a dog may want to channel its inner feline, or exact revenge on its housemate, by eating the cat’s favorite lysine treats.
Some may even call it poetic justice for all the scratches and snarls that your dog has innocently incurred over the years.
But the question remains: Should you be worried if your dog ate lysine treats meant for cats?
You will be glad to know that lysine is non-toxic to dogs in most cases, even if it ate the entire bag. If it were to experience any side effects, mild gastric distress (meaning vomiting and diarrhea) would be most likely.
If your dog really does seem to be in a lot of discomfort, you can put it on a bland diet for a few days while its stomach calms down and gets back to normal. Usually, this will carry on for 2 or 3 days at most, and there’s nothing else that you will need to do other than monitoring symptoms.
Lysine toxicity only occurs at very, very high doses- levels that your dog most likely will never have a chance to reach. However, in the hypothetical case that lysine overdose occurs, it could result in acute kidney failure.
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Lysine is an amino acid that can be supplemented for use in both cats and dogs. However, its use is much more common in felines, as usually canines are able to get all the lysine that they need from food sources such as meat, eggs, and grains.
Lysine has a fundamental role in deciding the secondary structure of proteins. It is a key component of collagen and carnitine, and plays a vital role in metabolizing energy by transporting fatty acids.
Lysine is very effective for treating the signs of herpes in felines, and is usually given as a powder, tablet, or treat. It does so by coating the virus and nullifying arginine in the body, and has been shown to be useful in reducing conjunctivitis in virus-infected cats.
The amino acid has limited risks and side effects, and does not require excessive monitoring when given. It is an essential amino acid, meaning that it doesn’t occur naturally inside dogs’ or cats’ bodies and can only be gathered from external sources.
In fact, a lack of lysine in the short-term has been shown to have negative effects on both cats and dogs, especially in younger animals. Lysine deficiency results in loss of appetite and weight loss in puppies as well as kittens.
Adult dogs should naturally be getting 0.5 to 1 gram of lysine per day to keep up their immune system and appetite. It has also been shown to help the synthesis of calcium and protein inside a dog’s body.
It is technically possible for a dog to overdose on lysine, either through dietary means or as a single supplement- though a very large amount would be required. Realistically, It would be impossible to eat so much food that lysine poisoning becomes a factor.
As mentioned earlier, lysine cancels out arginine in the body, and excess consumption of the amino acid will result in signs consistent with arginine deficiency. This can result in symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.
A Japanese study has shown that huge doses of lysine over 2000mg per pound of body weight can cause acute renal failure in dogs.
If that sounds like an excessively massive amount, it’s because it is. There’s very little likelihood under normal circumstances for a dog to ingest that much lysine. Still, to be safe, keep all your lysine supplements and cat treats high up in a cupboard!
Fortunately, there’s not much you need to worry about- even if your dog eats an entire bag (or three) of cat lysine treats, assuming that it’s a medium-sized breed.
To use a real example: each pack of the highly-rated Vetri Lysine Plus Immune Support Chews contains 120 treats. Each chew contains 125mg of L-lysine, for a total of 15000mg per pack. For that dose to be toxic, a dog would have to weigh only 7.5 pounds.
While there are admittedly dogs that are that size, such as chihuahuas, it would be quite unlikely anyway for it to eat the entire pack of treats. A dog of even just slightly larger size would require much higher levels of lysine ingestion to experience any sort of toxicity.
However, it is possible that a dog that eats a moderate amount of lysine will experience symptoms of GI upset. These symptoms can manifest as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and temporary loss of appetite.
If your dog seems quite uncomfortable or nauseous, you can give it Pepcid AC (famotidine) to soothe its stomach. The typical dosage of famotidine is 0.25mg per pound of body weight, up to two times a day.
Allow your dog to rest for a while by taking any food away for the rest of the day. However, as long as it is not vomiting, make sure that it still has access to clean, fresh water as it may be quite thirsty and dehydrated.
Monitoring symptoms for signs of deterioration will usually be enough to take care of your pup. While not strictly necessary or advised, you can induce vomiting in your dog if you are truly worried about the amount it ate and want to get the treats out of its stomach.
You can induce vomiting by using a solution called hydrogen peroxide. Using 3% hydrogen peroxide at one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight, squirt the solution into your dog’s mouth with a syringe or turkey baster and make it swallow as much as you can.
It is easier to get the solution to trickle down the throat by inserting the apparatus from the side of the dog’s mouth, rather than from the top. Let the dog move around for 10-15 minutes, after which time it should throw up the treats.
You can follow this up by giving your dog activated charcoal to suck up any remaining chemicals. Activated charcoal can be given at a dose of 1 to 5 grams for every kilogram of the dog’s weight.
Activated charcoal works by binding toxin particles to its pores, negating their harmful effects and not allowing them to be absorbed into the dog’s bloodstream.
To be maximally effective, both hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal should be given within an hour of the treats being eaten.
Regardless of whether you decide to use hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal or not, you should put your dog on a bland diet for the next few days to allow it to rest it’s stomach.
A bland diet involves feeding the dog meals of boiled lean chicken and rice- foods that are easy to digest and less burdensome.
Finally, if your dog seems to get worse over the next few days and persistently vomits, has bad or bloody diarrhea, a continual disinterest in food, excessive thirst, or displays lack of urination- take it to the vet for examination.
Once at the vet’s office, he will be able to have a blood test done on your dog to check kidney function.
If your dog got its snout into a bag of cat lysine treats, you need not worry. They are about as harmless as supplements can get, unless a truly tremendous amount is eaten. A dog would have to eat 2000mg per pound of body weight to feel any toxic effects.
If it happened to have a decent amount, such as a packet’s worth, it may experience some mild symptoms of stomach distress. These can include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite and a sore stomach.
Usually rest will be enough for your dog to recover quickly, but otherwise give it a 0.25mg/pound dose of Pepcid AC and it will be back to normal again in the next day or two.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.