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Thiamine Deficiency in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Thiamine deficiency is a clinical syndrome associated with vascular injury (pertaining to vessels) and nerve damage caused by vitamin B1 deficiency. It is due to an inadequate dietary intake of thiamine, a component of the B complex group of vitamins, relative to the body's overall needs.

This deficiency is more common in cats than dogs and is especially prevalent in raw fish eaters.

General Causes

  • Eating raw fish
  • Feeding pet food that is not completely balanced
  • Overprocessed food
  • Sulfites (chemicals) in the diet that interfere with the absorption of thiamine

    What to Watch For

  • Ventroflexion (bending in a downward position) of the neck
  • Muscle weakness
  • Ataxia (wobbly walking)
  • Seizures
  • Fixed, dilated pupils
  • Paralysis of the muscles around the eye

    Diagnosis

    The diagnosis is largely based on clinical signs and history. Baseline tests to include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, and urinalysis are recommended in all patients, although are most often within normal limits.

    Screening chest and abdominal radiographs (x-rays) are an important part of any baseline workup, especially to rule out other disorders.

    Treatment

  • Administer thiamine by injection for a several day to several week period
  • Feed a proper well balanced diet
  • Limit or discontinue raw-fish diet

    Home Care

    Administer all medication and feed a well balanced diet as directed by your veterinarian. Contact your veterinarian at once if your pet is not responding to therapy or is getting worse. Prognosis is excellent if the disease is treated early and the diet is improved.

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