Feline Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments
Feline asthma is an allergic respiratory problem affecting at least one percent of cats. This condition can range from mild to severe cases and symptoms can come and go.
When your cat experiences an asthma attack your cat begins to wheeze or cough and may show other signs of breathing difficulty. The muscles around your cat’s airways tightens and block their airflow. The airways swell and produce more mucus, which make the airway even narrower, and cause your cat to have a difficult time breathing. Below we will discuss the causes, symptoms and treatment options of asthma in cats.
Currently, feline asthma only affects one percent of cats, but this number is increasing. Environmental pollutants have been blamed for the increase in the number of cases.Feline asthma it usually caused by an allergen that causes an allergic response, however it can be triggered by stress.
Common triggers that can exacerbate symptoms of feline asthma include plants and grass, household products, dust & dust mites, pollens, mold & mildew, smoke, aerosol sprays. Certain cat foods that contain preservatives and artificial colorants have also been linked to causing asthma in cats. Asthma in cats has also been triggered by lungworms, heartworms,bacteria and viruses. Cat litter can sometimes be a culprit as well.
A common symptom of feline asthma is repetitive coughing, which might sound like your cat is trying to release a hairball. Symptoms include wheezing, labored breathing, gasping for breath, an extended neck while coughing or gasping, open mouth breathing, labored breath after exertion, lethargy, squatting with shoulders hunched, neck extended & low to the ground and frothy mucus while coughing.
If your cat’s is repeatedly coughing for several days or displaying any of the above symptoms take your cat to the vets.
Cats suffering from asthma can shift quickly from one distress level to another. They may appear to be eating well, sleeping and playing normally and then quickly experience a minor attack, where they are coughing and having a difficult time stopping. A full blown asthma attack is when breathing is heavy and labored, without treatment, cats with asthma can experience a cardiopulmonary collapse which can be fatal.
There is currently no cure for asthma in cats, but there are medications available to help managed this cat health problem. The first thing your vet will do is to try and determine what is causing your cat's asthma and to then try and eliminate that item from your cat's environment.
Your cat’s veterinarian may first run diagnostic tests in an attempt to determine the underlying cause of your cat's symptoms. These tests may include blood tests, chest x-ray,or even Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL), which is a procedure that involves taking a mucus sample from your cat to determine whether your cat has asthma or bronchitis.
Treatment can also consist of steroid shots or the application of transdermal gel. For mild cases of feline asthma, treatment consists of the use of bronchodilators. For moderate to severe cases, glucocorticosteroid with bronchodilators are used. Steroids, whether in oral or pill form, works by reducing inflammation, meanwhile Bronchodilators work by opening up your cat's airway.
Usually treatment is started with either an oral corticosteroid or a long-acting injection. If it's too difficult to admininster pills, especially with cats that are experiencing difficulty breathing, having a long-acting corticosteroid injection can be periodically used to control symptoms.Be sure to discuss advantages and disadvantages of all treatment options with your cat's veterinarian.
Feline asthma is a serious illness without a current cure, however it can be effectively managed. If you notice your cat experiencing any of the above symptoms it's essential to take your cat to the vets for an immediate check up.
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