Asthma, chronic allergic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), all fall under the category of inflammatory airway disease. In cats, we more commonly see asthma, which is an inflammatory disease of the respiratory airways that leads to episodes of spasm of the smooth muscle that controls the diameters of the airways; resulting in narrower airways that cause labored breathing and spasmodic cough. In dogs, the more common inflammatory airway disease presentation is of chronic nature, where inflammation leads to chronic cough, which tends to worsen during allergy prone seasons. Inflammation can be so severe in some dogs, that inflammatory products and debris can actually create a blocking or obstructive influence within the airways, leading to the term, “chronic obstructive airway disease.”
Since inflammation is the driving force behind all of these presentations of inflammatory airway disease in all of its forms, natural treatment for all of these variations of disease must include natural anti-inflammatory therapy. Nutritionally, nature’s most effective molecule that naturally blocks inflammatory pathways that lead to deleterious health effects, is omeg-3-fatty acids. Omega-3-fatty acids can come from plant sources that are rich in omega-3, such as avocado, or from fish oils. High quality omega-3-fatty acids do not only reduce inflammation at the level of the airways, but also reduce inflammation in virtually all of the tissues of the body.
Another important area where inflammation may be reduced is at the dietary level. For any pet that is experiencing inflammatory disease of any kind, I recommend a grain free, preservative free diet, preferably with a novel protein source (that is, a protein source that the pet has never been exposed to). Starchy processed carbohydrates are pro-inflammatory, and thus should be avoided. Proteins that are common in foods and therefore a pet has had long term exposure to – such as beef and chicken – sometimes lead to allergic sensitization in dogs and cats, thus my recommendation for a novel protein source. However, just because a diet is grain free and preservative free, does not mean that it is necessarily nutritious, so be certain to confirm any dog or cat diet’s reputation for nutrition by first checking with your veterinarian and choosing diets with strong positive reviews.
For any dogs and cats that have inflammatory airway disease, it is strongly recommended that air conditioning and heating filters are frequently changed. Ionic air purifiers are also very helpful. Keeping filters clean and reducing allergens and pollutants through ionic attraction help reduce the amount of reactive airborne allergens are being inhaled by your pet, thereby reducing inflammatory triggers.
Lastly, if anyone smokes in the home, STOP. Smoking in the home creates constant assault to the airways, and no amount of management, alternative or otherwise will effectively control disease if smoking occurs in the home.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.