Overview of Feline Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is a persistent inflammation of one or more bronchi, which are tubes that pass air to the lungs from the trachea. The cause of chronic bronchitis in most cases is unknown.
Chronic bronchitis can affect both dogs and cats but is not that common in cats. Chronic infective tracheobronchitis is more common in cats less than one year of age. Younger animals are more likely to be affected with pulmonary (lung) infection or malformation; older cats with neoplasia (cancer). There is no sex predilection.
What to Watch For
The cough is worsened by exercise and may be exacerbated at variable times of the day. Severely affected cats become cyanotic (blue-tinge to gums and tongue) with exertion and may faint after coughing. Unlike dogs, coughing is not common in cats.
Diagnosis of Chronic Bronchitis in Cats
Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize chronic bronchitis. Tests may include:
Other diagnostic tests may include:
Treatment of Chronic Bronchitis in Cats
Chronic bronchitis can be a severe and progressive condition that causes difficulty breathing. Therapy of chronic bronchitis is guided by the cytology and culture of the tracheobronchial secretions (sputum), by the extent of radiographic changes (e.g. pneumonia) and by response to therapy. Chronic, intermittent antibiotic or corticosteroid therapy, combined with the use of bronchodilators, cough medicine and supportive care of the respiratory system, form the basis for chronic therapy.
Rarely is a cure obtained; however, with diligent home care, significant improvement of clinical signs does occur in many cats.
Home Care and Prevention
There is no specific home care that can treat this disease. However, you should follow up with your veterinarian for examinations and radiographs and administer all veterinary prescribed medication as directed.
Provide exercise only as your cat can tolerate. Do not allow your cat to get short or breath with activity. If a restraint collar is worn, replace it with a harness. You may want to provide a vaporizer or nebulizer so your pet can inhale humidified air. Also, treatment of dental disease and oral cavity infections is recommended.
Prevention is not easy, although you can take steps to minimize the problem. Obesity should be controlled. Weight reduction over a two to three month period is recommended for obese pets. You should also minimize enviromental irritants. Decrease airway irritation. Avoid environmental stresses including house dust, vapors, chemical fumes and tobacco smoke.
In-depth Information on Feline Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis refers to a persistent inflammatory change in the bronchial tree that may involve lobar bronchi or the smaller airways. Chronic bronchial inflammation or irritation, regardless of cause, seems to promote the predictable responses of increased tracheobronchial secretions, cough and progressive architectural changes in the bronchial tree, which alter airflow.
Other medical problems can lead to symptoms similar to those encountered in chronic bronchitis. Diagnostic testing such as radiographs (X-rays) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL]) will often diagnose chronic bronchitis. Further diagnostic testing may be needed to determine secondary factors such as active inflammation or to eliminate other causes of similar symptoms such as heart disease.
Diseases that can appear similar to those with chronic bronchitis include: