Respiratory Foreign Body in Cats
A respiratory foreign body is the inhalation of material that becomes lodged in any part of the respiratory tract, especially the nose, throat, trachea and bronchi, which are the large passages in the lung.
Respiratory foreign bodies are caused by inhaling objects small enough to enter the respiratory tract, but too large to pass beyond that point. Less common causes involve movement of foreign material into the respiratory tract from areas within the body, such as through the esophagus.
Hunting breeds are prone to grass foreign bodies due to repeated exposure during exercise. Puppies aspirate foreign bodies associated with play. Young animals that are teething or older animals with poor dentition are prone to teeth foreign bodies. Foreign bodies such as needles, fishhooks, bones, and grass awns (foxtails) are most common.
What to Watch For
In patients with nasal foreign bodies:
In patients with pharyngeal foreign bodies:
In patients with tracheal foreign bodies:
In patients with bronchial foreign bodies:
Diagnosis of a Respiratory Foreign Body in Cats
A thorough oral and nasal examination may be diagnostic in patients with nasal or pharyngeal foreign bodies.
Treatment of a Respiratory Foreign Body in Cats
Early detection and removal is the key to recovery. Administer all medication and return for follow up as directed by your veterinarian.
Cats and dogs with respiratory foreign bodies often carry an excellent prognosis for full recovery. In some cases, such as with grass awns or splintered sticks, foreign bodies may escape detection and result in chronic lung disease, and/or may migrate through the body and cause severe complications and sometimes death.
Environment is the most important preventative for most respiratory foreign bodies. Toys, sticks, and other objects should be chosen or allowed with extreme caution and judgment.