Why Does My Pet Need a Compounded Medication?
Like people, our pets can develop ailments like heart conditions, allergies, cough or thyroid problems that may require medications to treat them. Most medications are…Read More
Advancing the Standards of Veterinary Care
Obstructive and allergic lung diseases affect many pets and are sometimes called asthma, bronchitis, or bronchial asthma. Unfortunately, these diseases are not easily classified and probably represent a variety of lung disorders. They do share a common finding of “hyper-responsive” airways.
When the airway is sensitive to certain stimuli, exposure to these agents leads to narrowing of the airways. The inciting agents are usually direct irritants to the airways or particles that provoke an allergic response in the respiratory tract. Regardless of the cause, the end-result is the same: muscle spasms in the bronchi (breathing tubes), buildup of mucus, and accumulation of cellular material. In particular, the inability to clear the bronchi of this material leaves the patient susceptible to secondary infections.
The animal is most stressed during the period of expiration. The difficulty with expiration is typical with obstructive disease of the lung. Air may become effectively trapped in the lungs, causing them to over-inflate. In some cases, this trapping leads to development of emphysema in the patient.
Obstructive lung disease is most common from 2 to 8 years of age. Female cats and Siamese cats seem to be more susceptible. Dogs do not get asthma as often as cats, but it can be a cause for coughing, particularly in older, smaller breed dogs.
Coughing and respiratory distress are the most commonly reported signs with obstructive lung disease. Coughing is a significant finding since there are relatively few causes of coughing in cats. Also, many patients assume a squatting position with the neck extending during these coughing episodes. Wheezing is easily heard with a stethoscope and is sometimes so loud that it can be heard without a stethoscope. Occasionally, sneezing and vomiting are noted.
As mentioned above, this group of diseases is characterized by hyper-responsive airways. The small breathing tubes (bronchi and bronchioles) can react to a number of stimuli, including:
Several tests may be performed to achieve a diagnosis of allergic lung disease:
In some cases, an underlying cause cannot be identified, despite a thorough diagnostic workup. Even when the underlying cause is not identified, many pets can achieve a reasonable quality of life with medical management.
Successful management of allergic lung disease employs several therapies.
Obstructive lung disease is usually manageable. Sometimes a “cure” may be achieved if a specific underlying cause can be identified and treated. Extreme respiratory distress constitutes an emergency, and, as with humans, your pet should receive immediate attention.