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Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Cats

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Veterinary Care

Diagnosis

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests to determine what is causing the sneezing or nasal discharge and to direct subsequent treatment.

There are several potential diagnostic tests. Recommendations will depend upon the likelihood of the potential diagnosis. The tests may include:

  • Physical examination and history including: examination for swellings; type of nasal discharge, airflow through the nostrils; ability of your pet to breath with the mouth closed; size and shape of lymph nodes; oral (mouth) cavity examination; and assessment of the eyes. Thorough examination of the upper airways is difficult without anesthesia. Acute causes of nasal discharge or sneezing – especially when caused by a respiratory viral infection – may be diagnosed from the history and clinical circumstances.

  • General blood screening rarely identifies the cause of the nasal discharge. However, blood tests are recommended to look for secondary disease and concurrent problems and to minimize anesthetic risk.

  • A platelet count and coagulation screen to assess for possible causes of bleeding.

  • A nasal swab and microscope examination of the cells (cytology).

  • Specialized blood tests for fungus infections.

  • Examination of the nasal cavity and posterior choanae (back of the nose) using endoscopes.

  • Flushing and cytology of the nasal cavities.

  • Skull X-rays.

  • Computerized tomography (CT).

  • Biopsy of the nasal tissue (mucosa).

    Treatment

    Treatment depends on the cause of the nasal discharge or sneezing. There is no "general" treatment for these symptoms.

    Home Care

    Recommendations for home care will depend upon the underlying cause of the problem.

    Monitor your pet for any abnormalities so that you can discuss them with your veterinarian. If general treatments do not clear up the symptoms, a diagnosis must be sought using appropriate tests.

    Administer all treatments as recommended by your veterinarian. You may clean discharges from the nose. Many cats eat based on their sense of smell. Often if your pet cannot smell the food, he will not eat it. You can warm food in the microwave or feed a canned food that may be smellier to encourage your pet to eat.

    Preventative Care

    Vaccinateyour pets against upper respiratory infections.

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