Respiratory diseases in dogs and cats
Diseases connected to the respiratory system are common problems in both cats and dogs. These can cause significant discomfort to your pet's life, so it is important to understand how to spot symptoms of respiratory illness, how to treat, manage and prevent it.
The main role of the respiratory system is to deliver oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the blood. When this exchange fails or becomes inefficient due to a disease or respiratory infection, an animal can become seriously ill. The upper respiratory tract includes nasal cavity, sinuses, pharynx, and larynx and acts as a passageway for air to reach the lungs. The lower respiratory tract includes trachea, bronchi and lungs, which facilitate an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs.
Coughing, sneezing, secretion from the nose, wheezing or other abnormal breathing sounds and dyspnoea (difficulties with breathing) are main symptoms of upper- and lower respiratory tract issues. Animals can experience fever, lethargy, loss of appetite or weight and exercise intolerance.
Initial diagnostic approach usually includes visual assessment of upper airways, blood sampling, chest, neck and nasal cavity x-rays, thoracic ultrasound, as well as viral and bacterial testing. In many cases more advanced diagnostic techniques are needed, including endoscopy (rhinoscopy, nasopharyngoscopy, tracheoscopy, bronchoscopy) and computed tomography (CT). Cytologic (fine needle biopsy, airway flashing samples) and biopsies are sometimes required to obtain final diagnosis and start the treatment.
There are a number of different respiratory illnesses and conditions that can affect dogs and cats, including acute and chronic conditions of viral, bacterial, parasitic, inflammatory or neoplastic origin.
Common respiratory diseases in dogs:
upper and lower respiratory infections (such as Kennel Cough or pneumonia)
rhinitis, tracheal collapse, chronic bronchitis and lower airway diseases.
Common respiratory diseases in cats:
upper and lower respiratory infections (such as Cat Flu: Feline Respiratory Disease Complex),
rhinitis, nasopharyngeal polyps, feline asthma and chronic bronchitis
If you suspect your pet may suffer from a respiratory disease it is best to get an opinion from your veterinarian.
Blood sampling, Cytological examinations