Grumpy cat looks into bathtub.

Asthma is a condition that many of us are familiar with. Whether it be a child, parent, friend, or even ourselves that are affected by it, most people know someone with the diagnosis. 

Often, though, people don’t realize that pets can be affected by asthma as well. The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center are very familiar with pet asthma, though, and we want to share how this disease can affect our patients and what you can do about it.

Pet Asthma as a Diagnosis

Pet asthma, like human asthma, is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airways. This inflammation leads to difficulty in moving air in and out of the lungs, resulting in trouble breathing. 

Asthma is a fairly common diagnosis in veterinary medicine, particularly in cats. Symptoms can range from mild to emergent and can include:

  • Coughing and/or gagging
  • Noise when breathing
  • Blue or gray lips, gums, and/or tongue
  • Panting or open mouth breathing in cats
  • Extending the neck when trying to breath
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Increased breathing rate or effort even at rest

Of course, many other things can cause similar symptoms. If your pet is having these symptoms, it is important for you to call us right away so that we can get started trying to diagnose what is causing the problem. Diagnostic testing can often treat the issue quickly and effectively. 

Caring for the Asthmatic Pet

Thankfully, asthma in pets is typically very manageable. While we are not able to cure asthma, most often we can find an effective treatment regimen to help our patients. 

Often pets affected by asthma will need medication. We most often use an inhaler, just as in people. An AeroKat or AeroDawg inhalation chamber can help pets to take inhaled medication effectively. Sometimes we use oral medications such as steroids or bronchodilators as well, but inhalation therapy is the gold standard for treatment. 

You can also help at home by doing things to decrease respiratory irritation. Many things in the household can cause irritation. Do your part by:

  • Not allowing cigarette or other smoke in your home
  • Avoiding perfumes and air fresheners
  • Keeping dust down and putting your pet in another room when cleaning
  • Using a dust free litter for cats
  • Consider a home HEPA filtration system
  • Minimize allergen-collecting fabrics and rugs

Weight can also increase severity of symptoms as well, so helping your pet maintain a healthy weight is important. 

Of course, routine visits to see us are vital to success as well.

Pet asthma can affect animals of all ages, breeds, and species, but we are typically able to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us for help if you suspect a breathing problem in your pet. Early intervention is often key to success.