Many of us have first-hand experience with asthma, either in ourselves or a loved one. Not as many of us realize that asthma is a diagnosis that can also impact our pets!
Asthma in pets can be a serious and scary diagnosis, especially if it is not diagnosed before respiratory distress occurs. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is happy to help no matter what your pet’s problem, but when it comes to asthma in pets in particular, we hope you breathe easier knowing we are here.
Recognizing Asthma in Pets
While there are many things that can contribute to breathing problems in pets, asthma is certainly one of the more commonly diagnosed. The problem with diagnosing asthma without the help of one of our expert veterinarians is that many breathing problems can have very similar symptoms. Diagnostic testing is needed to rule out other causes and make a definitive diagnosis.
In general, symptoms of breathing trouble are always cause for concern. Contact us immediately if your pet experiences:
- Noise when breathing
- Blue, gray, or purple mucous membranes or tongue
- Panting in cats
- Labored or fast breathing
- Extending the neck while trying to breathe
- Decreased exercise tolerance
In an asthmatic pet, inflammation in the airways causes them to spasm and close off. Cats in particular are predisposed to asthma. These episodes occur in sudden events called attacks, so a pet may not show symptoms continuously. Asthma may be exacerbated by respiratory irritants such as smoke, fragrance, dust, or pollen.
Taking Care of a Pet With Asthma
A diagnosis of asthma in pets can be intimidating, but most of the time it’s a very manageable condition. With a proper diagnosis, we can outline an appropriate treatment course.
Most asthmatic pets need to be on some type of medication for prevention of asthma attacks, which can include things like bronchodilators to open the airways, steroids to decrease inflammation, and antihistamines to mitigate the allergic response. A rescue plan for an asthma attack is typical as well.
At home, you can also help your asthmatic pet to thrive. Be sure to:
- Help your pet to maintain a healthy body weight
- Avoid smoking around your pet
- Steer clear of perfumes and air fresheners
- Eliminate dust where possible
- Consider a home HEPA filter
- Choose dust-free kitty litter
- Keep your pet out of the room while you clean
- Choose alternatives to dust-holding items such as drapes, upholstered furniture, and rugs
- Vacuum often
These steps can make a huge difference to the asthmatic pet as well as pets and people with other types of respiratory problems.
Don’t forget to keep us in the loop about your pet’s overall health and symptoms, and contact us immediately if things change. Respiratory problems can be a serious pet emergency.
Asthma in pets can affect all breeds, ages, and species. While we don’t have a cure, we do know that when we are able to work together as a team with a dedicated pet owner, these pets are able to live long, happy lives. Nothing makes us happier than to be able to tell our clients that!