Understanding Feline Asthma

Feline asthma is a common and potentially serious respiratory condition that affects cats of all ages. It is estimated that up to 5% of cats may suffer from this disease, but many more go undiagnosed in their lifetime. Feline asthma is similar to human asthma and is not life-threatening, so there are many treatments available to help manage the symptoms and live a comfortable life. Here’s what cat owners in Kamloops need to know about feline asthma.

What Causes Feline Asthma?

The exact cause of feline asthma is not yet known, but most clinicians and researchers agree that it is often caused by an allergic reaction to inhaled environmental allergens. These allergens activate the cat’s immune system, causing inflammation, constriction and thickening of the airways in the lungs. This leads to difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing – all common symptoms of asthma. Other possible triggers include cigarette smoke, perfumes, some essential oils, or other household chemicals.

Diagnosing Feline Asthma

Diagnosing asthma can be difficult; it’s estimated approximately 23% of asthmatic cats have normal appearing chest x-rays. X-rays are the main diagnostic tool used to find asthma besides the difficulty breathing and coughing because it allows you to visualize the airways in asthmatic patients. Sometimes it may be necessary to access the response to therapy and use that as a diagnostic tool.

Treating Feline Asthma

There are many treatments available for cats with feline asthma including injectables, oral pills, or inhalants. Medications, such as bronchodilators or corticosteroids, help open the airways, reduce inflammation and ease breathing difficulties. Inhalant medications are, by far, the most accurate treatment option with the least amount of side effects. Corticosteroids can have a good response, but long-term use can lead to problems like weight gain and feline diabetes. In some cases, antihistamines or immunotherapy may also be recommended.
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Avoiding contact with potential triggers will be helpful in managing symptoms, an example would be managing the environment to decrease dust, dander, and pollens which helps keep airways clear and improve the overall quality of life for your pet.

Caring for Cats with Feline Asthma

Cats with feline asthma require special care and attention from their owners in order to ensure their long-term health and well-being. Regular visits with a veterinarian are essential in order to monitor progress and adjust treatment regimens as needed over time. In addition, providing plenty of opportunities for exercise can help keep your cat healthy both physically and mentally. Finally, make sure you speak with us about potential triggers so you can take steps to minimize your cat’s exposure when necessary.
Feline asthma is a serious respiratory condition that can affect cats of all ages – but it doesn’t have to be frightening! With proper diagnosis from a veterinarian paired with careful management from loving owners, cats with feline asthma can lead happy and healthy lives for many years to come.
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