|My cat has asthma and oral medications are impossible to administer. Are there alternatives?|
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs. Most cats with asthma experience wheezing, coughing, and/or intermittent episodes of difficulty breathing. In some cases, the clinical symptoms may be worse certain times of the year.
The diagnosis of asthma requires radiographs (X-rays) of the lungs and endoscopic airway examination. These diagnostics are important in order to eliminate other diseases that may mimic asthma.
Once diagnosed, the goals of therapy for asthma are: 1. reduction of the episodes of difficulty breathing 2. minimize airway inflammation and 3. provide the patient with a good quality of life.
Similar to people, these goals are accomplished with bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory agents such as glucocorticoids (steroids). However, given that some cats do not tolerate oral medications, quality of life for the cat (and owner) may be compromised.
In human medicine, the trend in asthma therapy has focused on the development of inhalant therapies. Benefits of inhalant therapy include rapid onset of action, improved delivery to inflamed airways, and limited systemic absorption (and thus diminished side effects).
MDIs are designed for drug delivery during a deep breath. Clearly, cats cannot be trained to breathe deeply.
However, veterinary-specific products (AeroKat) include a mask of the appropriate size/shape and a spacer that holds the aerosolized medication for delivery over a series of breaths (3-5 seconds).
Thus far, the use of MDIs in cats has been promising and well tolerated.
This column is provided by the faculty of the OSU Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.