Diagnosing and Treating Cat Asthma
By Matt LeClair
When you think about Asthma you probably think about it as being a disorder found only in humans, but you probably didn’t realize that it could be present in your cat. There are many symptoms common to those who suffer from asthma and if your cat is showing these symptoms, then you may want to consider having your cat checked to see whether or not he or she has asthma.
So what exactly is asthma in cats? It is labeled as an immune mediated disease which can portray a number of symptoms such as infrequent coughing which may seem to be a common hairball cough, or random occurrences of respiratory distress which is more commonly known by veterinarians as acute dyspnea.
The onset of these symptoms can stem from a number of sources including certain allergens that may be present or by increased levels of stress. It is also possible for other symptoms to occur immediately after the initial symptoms previously mentioned. These other symptoms may include sneezing, vomiting, and perhaps even what we commonly know as wheezing. You may be able to notice that your cat is having problems breathing right away as they will be breathing heavily, or the problem may come about gradually in which case they will slowly exhibit signs of troubled breathing.
You can treat asthma fairly quickly with a number of steroids and other medications such treatments such as bronchodilators and oxygen therapy. There are a few methods that can be used to diagnose the disorder, but the most common method for doing so is by x-ray as well as a slide cytology of your cat’s airway.
The x-ray is in most cases the number one tool for diagnosing asthma in your cat and will help rule out other diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and even heart disease. It is important to use the x-ray because asthma can have similar symptoms when compared to these diseases and may be mistaken for one of them. Because the knowledge of asthma in cats has become increasingly abundant over the years, it’s been determined that the asthma in cats is very similar to the asthma in humans, which has also helped increase the effectiveness of treatment of feline asthma.
The most common treatment for feline asthma has become the use of corticosteroids like prednisone, and the use of bronchodilators like terbutaline. The success rate for treating feline asthma is usually pretty high with positive results achieved more and more frequently, and the occurrences of severe episodes of asthma are becoming less and less. The key to treating your cat for feline asthma is to get them checked as early as possible, which will increase the likelihood of successful treatment and minimize the amount of damage that is caused to your cat’s lungs.
There are alternative treatments that you can be used such as steroids which can be injected, which are very useful if your cat has a hard time with pills. Other treatments include Cyproheptadine which was used to stimulate appetite, Cyclosporin which is typically only used in cases where the disease is more severe, and Anti-Interleukin-5 Antibody which is still an experimental treatment.
One of strategies for relieving allergy symptoms is to remove the allergens that may be present in your cat’s living environment. This may be done with an air purifier, litter that is unscented and free of dust, and perhaps even controlling sprays which are odor free.
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