Feline Asthma Diagnosis with Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL) Testing

If your pet has feline asthma, it is likely that he will have a difficult time breathing in many situations, the most common of which include walking and playing. Asthma is an inflammation of the breathing passages and lungs that inhibits your pet's normal breathing. There are a number of causes of feline asthma, just as there are a variety of similar conditions. These other conditions include a number of infections and diseases that range from moderate to potentially fatal. As a result of this ambiguity, it is important to properly diagnose your pet if he has breathing problems.

Bronchoalveolar lavage testing is one of the preferred means of verifying whether a cat suffers from feline asthma. The procedure is easy and quick, and it has a high success rate for proper diagnosis.

Overview of Bronchoalveolar Lavage Testing

Bronchoalveolar lavage (or BAL) testing has become an increasingly common means of verifying the cause of your pet's respiratory issues. The procedure itself involves removing a sample of mucous from your pet's bronchioles. The bronchioles are minuscule passageways in the lungs that allow air to pass through to the body. These passageways are lined with mucous, and an analysis of the bacteria and other items in that mucous can help your veterinarian to come to an educated diagnosis in regards to your pet's symptoms.

Procedure for BAL Testing in Cats

If you notice that your cat seems to wheeze frequently, or if he has difficulty running, playing or walking, he may be suffering from feline asthma. Similarly, cats that pant or drool may also be experiencing an asthmatic episode. In these cases, take your pet to a veterinarian for examination.

If the symptoms that your cat displays are chronic or persistent over time, your veterinarian will order a BAL test for your pet. During the procedure, your cat will be anesthetized. The procedure itself is a minor one, but it is not possible to conduct the sample if your pet is conscious or moving around. Before submitting your pet to a BAL test, let your veterinarian know if your pet has experienced any adverse reactions to general anesthesia before.

After your pet has been anesthetized, a team of veterinarians and staff will continue to administer oxygen and anesthetic while others will insert a collection tube down your pet's mouth and throat. The collection process itself is very quick, and your pet will not suffer any pain or other adverse effects from the sampling. You may need to wait for a brief period of time while your pet regains consciousness after the test.

Following the Test

Having collected a mucous sample and a log of all of your cat's symptoms, your veterinarian will conduct an analysis of the mucous for signs of infection and other items that may be linked to feline asthma. This analysis process typically takes no more than a few days. Following the diagnosis, you and your vet can work together to formulate the best treatment plan for your pet's condition.