The official blog of the Lung Institute.
For people, COPD is defined as a progressive form of lung disease ranging from mild to severe. It’s characterized by a restriction of airflow into and out of the lungs, which makes breathing difficult. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, increased mucus production and coughing. COPD encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Can your pet get COPD or another chronic lung disease? We researched it and found that lung disease also happens in the animal kingdom.
COPD in Dogs and Cats
Humans aren’t the only ones that can get COPD; pets can develop COPD, too. In dogs and cats, COPD is defined as a long-term, progressive inflammatory condition that affects the respiratory system, and it may also be known as chronic bronchitis.
While there isn’t a definitive cause of COPD in cats and dogs, it’s believed that long-term exposure to inhaled irritants such as tobacco smoke, air pollutants and allergens are likely causes. Frequent respiratory infections and dental disease are also factors.
COPD symptoms in dogs and cats are similar to symptoms in people, such as chronic cough, difficulty breathing and decreased exercise tolerance. Middle-aged and older dogs and cats are most often affected. COPD could happen in all breeds of dogs, but it may be more common in small or toy-breeds. However, in cats, Siamese cats may be at a higher risk for developing the condition.
Treatment is similar to treatment for humans, including a healthy diet and prescription medications such as bronchodilators, corticosteroids and anti-inflammatories.
Lung Disease in Horses
Known as heaves or recurrent airway obstruction, heaves is the most prevalent lung disease seen in horses, ranging from mild to severe. Heaves is an allergic-based disease, and it occurs when horses are exposed to air pollutants and allergens, such as dust, mold and pollen. When horses’ lungs react to allergens, the lungs’ linings swell, thicken and produce excess mucus. Heaves is most like asthma in humans.
Because heaves is progressive, the airways will continue to thicken and more mucus will be produced and appear in the nostrils. Labored breathing, coughing, struggling for breath and increasing chances for pneumonia are also likely to occur. Heaves tends to happen in older horses.
Symptoms of heaves in horses include increased respiratory rate, increased abdominal breathing effort, nasal discharge, weight loss, wheezing and coughing. Many horses have difficulty exercising as well.
Treatment of heaves varies based on the severity and includes soaking hay in water, providing good ventilation, using bedding that doesn’t produce dust, and taking medications such as corticosteroids, bronchodilators and antibiotics.
Treatment Options for People with COPD
A veterinarian is the one who would diagnose lung disease in an animal just like a doctor would diagnose it in a person. Lung disease can happen in dogs, cats and horses, and many of the treatments used for animals are similar to the treatments for people. However, there’s another treatment option for people with lung disease that’s currently not used on animals: stem cell therapy.
The Lung Institute harvests stem cells from the patient’s body, separates the cells and then returns them to the patient to help promote the healing of lung tissue. If you or a loved one has lung disease and would like more information about how stem cell therapy could improve your quality of life, contact us at (800) 729-3065.