What is Wheezing?
Wheezing in cats and dogs is most commonly associated with asthma. Wheezing associated with asthma may have different causes – allergies can also be the culprit (asthma can also occur in dogs but not as commonly as in cats). Several different problems can lead to sneezing and wheezing in cats.
What Causes Wheezing?
Sinus infections, allergies, viruses and foreign objects or growths in the nose are some of the most common causes and the roots of upper canine teeth lie very close to the nasal passages, which if infected, can cause a chronic sinus infection. Stress may also cause wheezing in cats, as can inhaled substances in the environment such as pollen, mold, dust, tobacco smoke, perfumes, dusty cat litter, and powdered carpet deodorizers.
Other causes include lung parasites including lungworms and heartworms with bacterial infections often complicating things. You may notice that your cat experiences coughing (as if he or she has a hairball) often with difficulty breathing. Your pet may show shortness of breath or breathing may be slow or too fast and shallow. Watch out for cats breathing with their mouth open (cats normally breathe with a closed mouth) – this is a veterinary emergency and the cat should be taken to the vet immediately.
Diagnosing a Wheezing
Diagnosis is confirmed by chest x-rays, which allow differentiation from other diseases with similar signs, such as Bronchitis, Heartworm Disease, and Pneumonia. Your vet may also collect fluid and mucous samples to be examined. Severe cases of asthma often require oxygen therapy and conventional drugs such as steroids. Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacterial infections are present.
Help for Wheezing
There are a number of herbal and homeopathic remedies known for their beneficial effects on the respiratory system. For dogs, herbs such as Plantago lanceolata and Echinacea purpurea help to maintain clear, healthy chests, noses and throats. Homeopathic ingredients such as Bryonia and Kalium sulphate are often used for their ability to support respiratory health.
For cats that are usually impatient and easily startled by noise, and their sleep is easily disturbed, Borax is a beneficial remedy. There are also natural versions of vaccines available for cats and dogs – but be sure these are obtained from a reputable source.
More Information on Wheezing
Tips to combat wheezing:
- Remove allergens from your pet’s environment if you suspect wheezing due to allergies (chemicals and detergents are usually to blame)
- Avoid using odor-controlling sprays
- Use an air purifier or air filter to remove dust and dirt particles
- Use dust free, scent free cat litter
- Don’t smoke around your pets