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Examples of Symptoms

Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing is scary, especially the first time you witness it. It's not uncommon for clients to call us in a panic because they believe their dog is choking or suffocating. In reality, it's a very simple allergic response. It may sound like a honk, cough, or snort, but it is literally the reverse of a sneeze -- instead of sudden exhale through the nose, it is a sudden INHALE through the nose.

The most common cause of reverse sneezing is an irritation of the soft palate and throat that results in a spasm. During the spasm, the dog’s neck will extend and the chest will expand as the dog tries harder to inhale. Often reverse sneezing can be the result of mild allergies, or a reaction to something your pet sniffed (like a dust bunny) or ate (like pepper). Dogs with short snouts (like Pugs, Shih Tzus, Boxers, and Bulldogs) are more likely to experience this, but it can happen to ANY breed.

If your pet experiences reverse sneezing fits often, let us know. We may advise starting a simple antihistamine to reduce the allergic irritation, or we may advise an exam to check for a foreign body (like a foxtail). Some dogs also tend to panic when reverse sneezing fits happen. Panic makes it harder for them to regain control of their breathing, and they sneeze to the point that they begin to hyperventilate. If your pet overreacts in this manner, do your best to calm them down by offering them their favorite toy or treat, or giving them a hug. Disctraction is key!

Feline Asthma Attack

Asthma is a recurring respiratory compromise in which the airways within the lungs are constricted or narrowed. Three features define asthma: airway inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness, and airflow limitation. In simpler terms - this means the airways are inflamed, making them extra reactive to stress or respiratory irritants, and the flow of air through the lungs is reduced.

It often begins when excess mucus forms, and the airway walls swell begin to swell and sometimes ulcerate. The airway muscles then go into spasm, which cause the constriction that limits airflow. This make is difficult for your cat to draw a deep breath, may make him intolerant to exercise or physical exertion, and can cause coughing/wheezing. Sometimes, the only sign our cats show us is a mild cough.

 

Unfortunately, a sudden asthmatic crisis can arise at any time and can be life-threatening - whether it happens spontaneously or is the result of an allergic reaction. Either way, never shrug off your cat's cough!

Cats have very sensitive airways, and environmental irritants like smoke can definitely exacerbate asthma symptoms (whether it's cigarette smoke, wood smoke, or wildfire smoke). If your cat is ever struggling to breathe, contact a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. While the cause may not be asthma, there are a whole host of other serious conditions that share the symptoms of asthma, including lung worms, congestive heart failure and cancer, so it's not worth waiting to see if these symptoms will just disappear on their own. 

 

If your cat is ever breathing with his mouth open (panting like dogs commonly do), this could mean your furry family member is in serious trouble. Call our office (928-440-4020) immediately, or reach out a local emergency facility. 

 

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