Warning: Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Alpha Lipoic Acid is an over-the-counter natural antioxidant that can be found in human supplements for weight loss, diabetes, arthritis, cataracts, and other ailments.  It should not be confused with alpha LINOLEIC acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid and considered to be harmless.

Did you know these can be dangerous for our pets? When ingested, alpha lipoic acid can cause toxicity within 30 minutes to several hours later. There can be various organ system involvement and a toxic dose may even lead to acute liver or kidney failure.

Potential Signs of Alpha Lipoic Acid Poisoning:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired coordination (ataxia)
  • Vocalization
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Low blood sugar

Cats tend to be particularly susceptible and are ten times more sensitive to alpha lipoic acid toxicity than dogs.

Due to the rapid onset of signs, it is imperative to act quickly. Treatment involves inducing vomiting if no signs are present.  This should be done with the guidance of your veterinarian and within one hour of ingesting the supplement.  Additional treatment and supportive care may still be required even if evidence of the product is recovered with vomiting. This may include hospitalization, monitoring blood work (including blood sugar), fluid therapy, and additional medications depending on the clinical signs your pet may be exhibiting.

Outcomes with the ingestion of a toxic dose can vary. However, patients that develop severe neurological or gastrointestinal signs within a few hours after ingestion have a lower chance of making a full recovery (especially for cats).

If your pet consumes any product or supplement containing alpha lipoic acid, it should be treated as an urgent situation.  Immediately contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline®.  It is important to act quickly to ensure the best possible outcome for your pet.



Written by:
Seana Juliano, DVM student extern, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2023
Kathy Wolsieffer, CVT, Veterinary Information Specialist