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Feline Asthma And What You Can Do To Help Your Cat

Posted August 4, 2017


Feline asthma is the most commonly diagnosed respiratory disease in cats. Although it is incurable, feline asthma is still manageable for your kitty.

What Is Feline Asthma?

When your cat has asthma, it means that there is a constriction of the airways caused by an over reaction to the presence of an allergen. The body responds by releasing stimulants that cause inflammation and swelling of the bronchi and contraction of the surrounding muscles, which results in the narrowing of the airways and causes difficulty breathing, especially on exhalation.

What Causes Feline Asthma?

Allergens, which potentially cause your kitty to become asthmatic include cigarette smoke, dust mites, and other bronchial irritants such as chemical cat litter and cleaning chemicals.  There can also be other allergies to the environment.

If your cat has an asthma attack, it can be mild, moderate or severe to life threatening.

Signs of Feline Asthma

Signs include increased respirations at rest, wheezing, coughing or inability to breathe – indicated by open mouth breathing.  At any of these stages, veterinary care is essential to diagnose and manage the disease and alleviate the clinical signs.  Depending on how bad the attack is, if lips and tongue are blue, oxygen therapy is necessary at first to stabilize along with other medications.  If stable enough, an x-ray of the chest will reveal classic patterns in the lungs indicative of feline asthma.  Heartworm disease should always be ruled out as the clinical signs of feline heartworm disease mimic feline asthma.  Lung worms should also be ruled out as a cause of feline asthma.

Treatment of Asthma in Cats

Treatment includes decreasing allergens in the environment, a hypoallergenic diet, hepa  filters in the home, no smoking inside or near pets, natural litters and natural cleaning supplies.  I’ve even seen cases where allergies are triggered from new rugs in the house. It can be useful to have allergy testing done on your pet. Tests can be done for all sorts of allergens, including environmental allergens such as weeds, trees, parasites, grasses, etc.

Western medical management usually involves steroid treatment in various forms.  Alternatively, or in addition to western medications, I recommend high levels of omega 3 fatty acids (NHV PetOmega 3), a hypoallergenic diet, acupuncture, and other NHV formulations such as NHV Resp Aid, which help with upper respiratory congestion, and help relieve shortness of breath; as well as NHV Alge-Ex for environmental allergies, and NHV Stimmune to boost the immune system and aid with food allergies. The management of the disease should never be stopped even if the clinical signs are at bay.

If your pet is suffering from allergies, please contact me for an online veterinary consultation that I offer through NHV. I can take a look at blood work, test results, and come up with an integrative approach (a balance of western medications, diet, supplements and other therapy) that can help your pet.

Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

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