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What Are the Symptoms of Dog and Cat Asthma?

Signs of Asthma to Look For in Your Pet

By Kat Sherbo. October 22, 2012 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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What Are the Symptoms of Dog and Cat Asthma?

Symptoms of asthma in cats and dogs are just what most pet parents would expect; others are perhaps less well-known. Be sure to watch your pet for these symptoms of asthma.

Some symptoms of asthma are just what you'd expect--coughing and wheezing--but some may be more surprising. Be sure to watch your pet for these signs.

Physical Signs of Struggling for Breath

The most common symptom of asthma is difficulty breathing. This can manifest in your pet coughing, wheezing, or otherwise trying very hard to breathe. Even if your pet is not coughing, be on the lookout for a gurgling sound in the throat, or repeated swallowing. If your pet’s abdomen is moving as if pumping for air, your pet is probably having trouble breathing.

Be aware, though: difficult abdominal breathing can also be a sign of heart disease--heart disease can result in fluid in or around the lungs, causing this difficulty. If this is the case, the breathing is likely to have a "wetter" sound as opposed to a dry asthma cough. In either case, if your pet seems to be working very hard to take a breath, see a vet.

Other signs of asthma include a blue or purple tinge to the tongue or gums. Take your pet to the veterinarian right away if you see this happen—your pet is experiencing a severe lack of oxygen and needs help immediately. 

Lethargy and Lack of Appetite

Asthma can also lead to a lack of appetite and loss of weight, which is more common in cats than in dogs. Your pet may be too tired from spending all their energy trying to take proper breaths to want to spend time eating. 

Similarly, lethargy is a common side effect of asthma. As the body tries overly hard to complete the essential task of breathing, your pet won’t have energy for their other normal actives. Cats can experience severe anorexia and lethargy in response to serious asthma.

Loss of appetite and lethargy are common symptoms of many health issues and even some diseases, so if you notice your pet seeming unusually tired or uninterested in eating, be sure to see a veterinarian.

Treat Asthma Fast to Avoid More Serious Symptoms

Chronic, or recurring inflammation of the lungs due to asthma can lead to fibrosis, which is excess fibrous tissue in the lungs, or to lung atelectasis, a disease in which the lungs become unable to inflate. Be sure to treat your pet’s asthma quickly to avoid any such problems.

More on Watching for Symptoms

Warning Signs Your Cat Might Be Sick
10 Senior Dog Symptoms You Won't Want to Ignore

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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