A common question asked in the veterinary clinic is whether it is possible for dogs to catch colds and/or also give and transmit colds between humans and their animal companions. As with people, it is possible for pets to catch colds at various times of year. Especially during colder months and/or under periods of emotional or physical stress, dogs are susceptible to acute infectious diseases just like their guardians. Bacteria including bordatella, mycoplasma, E. coli and Pseudomonas all may be involved in some cases. Respiratory viruses such as parainfluenza, adenovirus, and even canine influenza may also play roles in certain dogs. Read More
As in people, asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease also frequently diagnosed in dogs and, more commonly, in cats. The symptoms of asthma can be varied and may include wheezing and difficulty breathing, often with an increased rate of respiration, as well as coughing, exercise intolerance, and restlessness or lethargy. In severe cases, some pets may need to breathe through an open mouth, because of the difficulty in oxygenating the blood. Environmental factors, including second hand cigarette smoke and dusty or moldy homes may also trigger asthma episodes in certain susceptible pets.
While veterinarians will always take a thorough history on any pet presenting with asthma-like symptoms, in many cases underlying causes or factors are often not found. Most pets presenting with chronic respiratory symptoms should have a complete medical workup, including testing for heartworms and intestinal parasites that may cause coughing, as well as complete chest x-rays to rule out other underlying respiratory conditions.
Treatment of asthmatic pets will usually involve correcting any contributing environmental factors, as well as symptomatic medications to relieve symptoms. The most common medications used include medicines to dilate the airways such as Theophylline, as well as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and sometimes antibiotics to treat or prevent any secondary bacterial infections. In severe cases, oxygen therapy at the veterinary hospital may be needed to stabilize many pets. Many veterinarians are now using special inhalers like the one made by Aerocat as an alternative or supplement to drug therapy when treating asthmatic cats long-term. Prognosis for managing asthma long-term is excellent, provided diagnostic workups and medical therapy is quickly instituted.
Chronic coughing in pets can have many causes. Certainly viral and bacterial infections may play a role in some pets. Bordatella and Parainfluenza are two common microbes that may cause coughing in affected dogs and cats. Migrating parasites, including heartworm and lungworms, may also cause coughing in some pets, and these may usually be detected on microscopic stool check.
Inhaled foreign bodies can on rare occasion be causes of chronic coughing in pets. In some pets, inflammatory and/or allergic reactions may also be involved, leading to an asthmatic type of condition, especially in cats. Anatomic problems, including tracheal collapse in toy breed dogs also may be contributing to chronic cough. Cardiac diseases, including leaky mitral valves and other heart disorders also may be involved in chronic coughs, especially in older dogs.
In older pets, cancer of the lungs or other organs also may be contributing to chronic cough. Because of these many possibilities, it is important for any pet with a history of chronic cough to have a full medical workup, including CBC/chemistry blood work/ heartworm test/ stool check, as well as x-rays and possible tracheal washes for microscopic exam of airway discharge. EKG and/or cardiac ultrasound also may be needed.