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Questions for Dr. Shawn - Respiratory Disease

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"Dear Dr. Shawn:
"I have a problem with my 9 year old cat. When he was a kitten he had pneumonia. He got better but since about 6 years of age he began to get sick more often (about once to twice a year.) He coughs and throws up his food and the doctor says it's his bronchi. He always prescribes antibiotics (amoxicillin or clavamox.) I don't really like giving him antibiotics for a long time. I'd really appreciate it if you could give me the names of some herbal remedies to make my cat's antibodies stronger."

Answer:
”While antibiotics can help in some cases, long term use may not be the wisest way to go. Side effects can include diarrhea, vomiting, and bacterial resistance (a growing problem in people and pets.) I appreciate your desire to help your cat using a natural approach.

There are several products that may be effective. Herbal ABX is a proprietary prescription product that contains antibacterial herbs that has worked well for me in treating pets with many mild infectious conditions. Olivet is a proprietary olive leaf product that also exhibits antibacterial and antifungal properties. Husteel is a great homeopathic product that helps with coughing.

For immune support a number of products are available, including Oncosupport, Immunosupport, Immune +, Echinacea comp forte, Engystol, and Lymphomyosot. Of course your doctor will need to work with you to determine which if any of these products might help. If and when antibiotics are needed, a product such as Nutrigest can minimize damage to your cat’s intestinal tract that can occur from antibiotic usage.

Most cats such as yours can be helped. Some cats have chronic herpes virus infections (that they usually acquire as kittens.) If this is the case with your cat, he will never be cured but his infections can be controlled.”


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"Dear Dr. Shawn:
"My ragdoll cat is exhibiting symptoms of an upper respiratory problem. She has a runny nose and runny eyes and sneezes during the day. Do you think this is an infection? What treatment might help her?"

Answer:
”The signs you are describing are quite typical of cats with respiratory problems. In addition to the runny eyes and nose and sneezing, some cats with respiratory problems also exhibit a cough. If they become severely congested, they may also eat less as cats need to smell their food or they often won’t eat.

There are several causes of respiratory problems in cats. Most commonly, especially in kittens, are viral or bacterial infections of the upper respiratory tract. Common infectious agents include chlamydia, calici virus, and rhinotracheitis (herpes) virus. Secondary bacterial infections may also occur. Signs of infection include the typical snotty nose (usually a yellow or green eye or nasal discharge,) mild lethary, and a mild decrease in appetite. With herpes virus infection, ulcers may also appear on the surfaces of the eyes.

Allergic rhinitis may also cause similar signs. Usually these are older cats with a clear runny or mucus discharge from the eyes and nose. These cats are not sick, and signs are often seasonal (usually spring or fall.) Cats with allergies will not improve with antibiotic therapy but will respond to therapy for allergies (antihistamines or corticosteroids.)

Conventional therapy for respiratory infections involves antibiotics. Examples that may be helpful include amoxicillin, trimthoprim-sulfa, cephalexin, or enrofloxacin. I prefer not to use enrofloxacin for simple cases as it is a strong antibiotic which should be reserved for more serious infections. Also, it has been reported to cause blindness in some cats (especially in older cats, cats with kidney disease, and at high doses.) Conventional therapy for respiratory allergies involves corticosteroids or antihistamines.

Natural therapies for infections utilize herbs and homeopathics to stimulate the pet’s immune system, strengthen and support the respiratory system, and act as natural antibiotics.
Some examples of supplements that do this include goldenseal, chamomile, Oregon grape, and Echinacea.

In my practice, I often combine conventional and natural therapies to help my patients, especially for acute infections. For chronic problems, I try to limit antibiotics and instead preer to rely mainly on natural therapies. More information on respiratory problems can be found in my book, The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats. Following these suggestions, most of my patients achieve good success in dealing with their problems.

 

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