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"Riva" - Tibetan x Poodle with Allergic Bronchitis

Photo - Riva

The vast majority of dogs presented to the Fairfield Veterinary Centre with a cough are suffering from a highly contagious bacterial infection. Consequently, most patients' problem will have resolved after an appropriate course of antibiotic therapy. It is the occasional case that fails to resolve that then triggers a sequence of diagnostic steps.

"Riva" a 14 year old Poodle cross fell into this category. Despite antibiotic treament she had an extremely debilitating and hacking cough which no doubt made her feel her age!

Radiography of the chest is extremely important to obtain crucial information about the heart and lungs if only to demonstrate that they are functioning adequately. Complex clinical dilemmas can arise when there is disease or pathology affecting more than one organ. A debate can then ensue as to which abnormality plays the more significant part to give rise to the presenting symptoms.

Fortunately, in "Riva's" case we were able to rule out heart disease as a potential factor from the radiographs. However it was necessary to progress to sampling the cells that line the respiratory tract for examination before a definitive diagnosis could be made.

This procedure involves rinsing the respiratory tract with saline then sucking up the residue (tracheal wash) to be processed and then sent for examination to the cytopathologist. The cytopathologist is then able to examine "Riva's" cells and make a diagnosis based on the different cell types found and the numbers involved.

In "Riva's" case large numbers of both neutrophils and eosinophils pointed to a diagnosis of allergic bronchitis. This condition is generally treated with corticosteroids and fortunately for "Riva" her response was both immediate and dramatic.

The cough has now completely disappeared and is controlled with appropriate maintenance therapy. So "Riva" can get back to enjoying her old age with a revitalised spring in her step!

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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