Of all pets, horses and cats are more likely to suffer from a breathing disease that has the symptoms of asthma. The disease is especially common in cats that vets simply refer to it as feline asthma. You may also hear vets referring to the condition as allergic bronchitis. In horses, the breathing condition is not the same as in cats. Vets refer to the horses’ condition as “heaves”, “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)” or “recurrent airway obstruction (RAO)”.
The general causes of asthma are nearly the same in both humans and animals. Generally, a person, cat, horse or another animal may suffer from asthma when something in the environment irritates the lining of the respiratory tract. The irritant is usually an allergic trigger. However, asthma can also be caused by other elements such as chemicals in the air, rapid breathing due to exercise, cold temperatures, viruses, etc. Regardless of the asthma trigger, the respiratory tract is inflamed, more mucus is produced by the cells and the airways become narrower since the muscles surrounding them have contracted.
There are different symptoms of COPD in horses, or asthma in cats and humans. The symptoms usually depend on the individuality of the victim and severity of an episode. A mild COPD episode can be characterized by lethargy, coughing and a short period of deep or rapid breathing. This episode usually resolves on its own. More severe flare-ups can be life-threatening for horses and cats , and may leave them gasping for breathe.
If you suspect your horse or cat is suffering from COPD, you should get her checked by a vet. One of the signs that can help you know that the pet is suffering from asthma is an expiratory wheeze (i.e. a high-pitched sound that is heard when the animal breathes out.).…