Cats and Asthma

Asthma may be described as a chronic respiratory disease characterized by sudden labored breathing, chest constriction, coughing, and wheezing that occurs from constriction of the lung airways either spontaneously or in response to stimuli that normally should not cause a reaction. Effected individuals can also experience an inability to draw a deep breath and intolerance to exercise.

An asthmatic cat may breathe with her mouth open, have labored breath, breathe rapidly and shallowly, or not purr. You may also notice that the abdomen appears to be working hard to push air out. Diagnosing asthma in cats can be difficult and it is often over-diagnosed. Diagnosis typically involves chest radiographs, though a tracheal wash or bronchoscopy may also be performed. There are several treatment options, including the use of corticosteroids, airway dilators, antihistamines, and other medications like cyproheptadine, amflurkast or cyclosporine. An acute asthmatic attack can occur at anytime and may even be life-threatening. Small doses of epinephrine may be used in emergency situations.

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