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How to Treat Dog and Cat Asthma

Common Treatments and Medications for Pet Asthma

By Kat Sherbo. October 22, 2012 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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How to Treat Dog and Cat Asthma

Treating asthma in pets can be simple. But oftentimes, medical treatments and programs are needed. Learn the common treatments for dog and cat asthma.

Treating mild asthma can be as simple as removing the allergy-causing substance from your home. But in more serious cases, veterinary care and medications will be needed.

Visiting the Vet

If your pet is coughing or wheezing, or showing other symptoms of asthma, your veterinarian will want to first perform some chest x-rays and blood tests, to check for any other issues like heartworm or pneumonia, which can result in similar symptoms. Your vet will likely take a urine sample as well to check for any infections.

In severe cases, your pet may need to be hospitalized, and will need oxygen provided through a respirator until symptoms ease and your pet can breathe well on their own. 

Medications

Several types of medications can be used. Steroids and cortisone medications will reduce inflammation. Antihistamines, such as Cyproheptadine, will ease and dilate (open up) constricted airways. Bronchodilators, such as Theophylline, will relax the muscles around the airways, but will not reduce the inflammation in the airways themselves. Your veterinarian may prescribe a combination of these treatments.

Medications to treat asthma are largely inhalants or oral medications. Inhalant medications will expand your pet’s respiratory airways, allowing your pet to breathe normally. Like inhalants for humans with asthma, these medications need to be delivered into the respiratory system though a respirator. You’ll need one designed to fit a dog or cat’s muzzle.

Removing the Cause

In many cases, removing the cause of the allergy will clear up the problem. But be careful about assuming you’ve got the allergy-causing culprit. If you think your pet was allergic to your new carpet cleaner, and you stop using it, keep an eye on your pet to be sure it’s not something else. 

It’s also possible that you’ll never find the exact irritant, and getting your pet on medication quickly is more effective than eternally switching out household products to find the culprit. For example, if your pet’s asthma is caused by pollen, they’ll have a hard time every spring and fall, regardless of your efforts.

Treating Chronic Asthma

Your pet may have developed a chronic case of asthma, in which case you’ll likely need to instate a long-term or even lifelong medical treatment for your pet. Cough suppressants can be useful to make your pet more comfortable, but talk to your vet about using these—coughing is a natural response to irritants in the airways, and is used to expel unwanted particles.

Prevention, and Protecting Your Pet's Immune System

Vitamins that boost a pet’s immune system can make your pet less likely to develop asthma. Vitamin C has been shown to help heal damaged tissue and to maintain a healthy immune system. Vitamin E helps to fight and ward off infections. However, these are supplements to consider before your pet shows signs of asthma, or once the asthma is under control. Vitamins won’t cure an asthma attack, and your pet will need veterinary attention if asthma symptoms occur.

More on Preventing Illness

How a Healthy Weight Can Prevent Disease in Your Dog
The Benefits of Vitamins and Supplements

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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