Lysine for Feline Herpes

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Cats with feline herpes appear to have the flu.
Cats with feline herpes appear to have the flu. (Image: cat image by maxthewildcat from Fotolia.com)

Cats suffering from bouts of sneezing, watery eyes and nasal discharge might have Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, or FVR. The herpes virus causes the contagious condition, more commonly known as the cat flu, cat herpes or feline herpes-1. Treatments of oral l-lysine ease the pet's respiratory discomfort. Dosages should begin at the first sign of illness, under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Purpose

Unlike humans, l-lysine protein molecules do not naturally occur in the feline body. Cats experiencing symptoms of feline herpes take oral supplements of l-lysine to stunt the production of the herpes virus that causes the illness. L-lysine supplements inhibit the functionality of the amino acid arginine. Without arginine, the feline herpes virus cannot duplicate, according to the pet care website, VetInfo.

Medication

Consumers can purchase pet-grade l-lysine supplements without a prescription. After a veterinarian has diagnosed the cat with feline herpes, a dosage will be calculated based on the cat's weight, level of health and severity of illness. L-lysine supplements formulated for cats do not contain propylene glycol. The chemical compound, often found in human medications, can cause anemia in cats.

Forms

To appease the pickiest of cats, l-lysine comes in a variety of oral formulas. Veterinarian's offer l-lysine in chewy, flavored treats and pastes. Drug stores and veterinary supply stores sell pressed tablets. Cats can safely consume propylene glycol-free l-lysine tablets labeled for human consumption, according to the experts at VetInfo.

Benefits

Giving l-lysine supplements to cats with feline herpes yields additional health benefits. L-lysine contributes to the production of carnitine and aids in the conversion of fatty acids to energy. The supplement also promotes bone, cartilage and tendon formation through the absorption of calcium.

Warnings

Felines infected with the herpes virus usually become chronically ill. On the Pet Education website, doctors Foster and Smith recommend l-lysine for cats experiencing chronic illness. Although vaccinations protect felines from the illness, the injection doesn't eliminate the chance of infection or increase the cat's chance at a successful recovery. Fifty percent to 60 percent of cats with feline herpes die from the illness.

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