Internal Medicine Service: Respiratory Tract

Respiratory tract disease can cause symptoms from mild cough to severe respiratory distress. If an animal is in respiratory distress it should be presented to a veterinarian immediately. Our Emergency and Critical Care Service is open 24/7 and can provide treatments including oxygen supply and ventilation therapy if indicated.

Diseases of the respiratory tract can be roughly divided into diseases of the upper (nose, soft palate, larynx or voice box, trachea or windpipe) and the lower respiratory (lungs) tract. In some instances, surgery may be required to treat the disease and we will discuss that with you ahead of time.

Common conditions of dogs and cats treated at our teaching hospital include:

Upper Respiratory Tract
  • Foreign bodies
  • Fungal diseases of the nose and sinuses
  • Upper respiratory tract disease in cats (cat flu)
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Tracheitis (inflammation of the trachea)
  • Tracheal collapse – Please note that we currently do not perform tracheal stenting to treat tracheal collapse
  • BOAS
Lower Respiratory Tract
  • Foreign bodies
  • Bronchial collapse
  • Asthma or chronic bronchitis
  • Eosinophilic bronchopneumopathy
  • Pneumonia (bacterial or viral)
  • Aspiration pneumonia

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) is a specific disease complex in brachycephalic (which means “short-headed”) breeds such as pugs, French bulldogs and others. The four main concerns with BOAS are: narrow nostrils, elongated soft palate, collapse of the larynx and small diameter of the trachea or windpip. We work closely with our surgery department to provide adequate evaluation prior to a potential surgery.

Work-up in a pet with respiratory disease will be individualized based on the patient’s needs but ill often include the following

  • Blood work
  • Radiographs or CT (advanced imaging) of the thorax (chest)
  • Fluoroscopy (dynamic radiography) of the trachea
  • Bronchoscopy (video endoscopy of the lungs)
  • Minimally-invasive airway washes
If you think your pet needs to be evaluated by us, please call our hospital at 765-494-1107.

Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, 625 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-7607

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