Just like us, pets can get sinus and nasal infections. Chronic sinus infections in the cat or dog can be a challenge to treat. For infrequent infections, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications can be very helpful. However, for chronic infections, a more holistic approach should be considered. Using a combination of conventional and holistic veterinary treatments, we can assist your pet to get well.
Cats and dogs can get sinus infections that are occasional or that can become a chronic condition. Symptoms of sinus infections in pets are similar to those in humans and can include runny nose, nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing and gagging. Veterinarians will do a series of tests progressively to determine the nature of the infection which can be bacterial, viral or fungal or a combination. Tests may include XRAYs, cultures of the nasal discharge, blood tests and a flexible scope into the nostrils (if chronic condition persists). Generally, initial treatment is antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications if a bacterial infection is present (and antifungal medications for fungal medications). The infection may be a symptom of a underlying health condition. For example, cats with FIV or FeLV may have chronic sinus and upper respiratory infections as a result of the virus taxing their immune system.
While an occasional sinus infection might respond quite readily to the antibiotics and other medications, many cats and dogs will still continue to have a nasal or sinus infection. The problem with sinus infections is that the bacteria that are present and causing the problem in these sinuses are surrounded by a virtual fortress of cartilage and bone. It is very difficult for any antibiotic to penetrate this fortress and achieve adequate concentration to kill the bacteria that are there. To make matters worse, sometimes the bacteria are so strong that they are capable of destroying some of the cartilage and bone which further aggravates the problem.
In large animals, cattle in particular, the sinus infections are so bad that sometimes an actual hole is drilled into the sinus to establish some form of drainage for the pus to exit the sinus cavity. Otherwise, it tends to sit there and fester forever. This is sometimes done in very rare instances in dogs and cats, but one can obviously understand why most owners would not want to authorize this type of procedure.
So how do we treat bacterial sinusitis in cats and dogs? If you are lucky, and catch your cat or dog’s sinus infection, early in the course of the disease, antibiotic therapy can be successful. Once the bacteria become established and colonize the sinus cavity, a chronic sinusitis ensues and this can be an exercise in frustration. It is not that the chosen medications are not working, but there is really no clear way to establish drainage in the sinus cavity to get rid of the pus that forms there.
Sometimes veterinarians will anesthetize the patient in order to flush the nasal cavity. Alternating antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications will offer some temporary success. Using a humidifier will also loosen the thick mucoid secretions and enable the patient to breathe a little easier. Although not often employed, special nose drops can be used to “open up” the breathing passages.
All of these measures using conventional veterinary care will help to some degree. However, there are a number of options that might help using holistic pet care in conjunction for a more successful outcome.
Holistic Alternatives for Sinus Infections in Pets
The goal of holistic care is to help the body not only fight the infection but to create an environment in the affected area that will not enable bacteria and yeast to thrive.
Using antibiotics can be a lifesaver when a bacterial infection is present. However, antibiotics can also affect the good bacteria which help our immune system to fight against infection. As a result, many people find that once the treatment of the antibiotics is over, the infection returns. This can be due to the fact that the immune system isn’t getting enough support and the bad bacteria just regrows more rapidly than the body can handle. This can also be due to an underlying viral infection that was present before the infection or yeast overgrowth that has now set in as a result of the antibiotics killing off the good bacteria. It can become a vicious cycle of using antibiotics and then getting yeast. This problem is not just in our sinuses, but can occur anywhere, especially moist areas where yeast can thrive.
To offset this problem, it is highly recommended that you use a Probiotic when taking antibiotics to help replenish the lost “good” bacteria.
Changing the diet can also be very helpful. Many times yeast and bacteria overgrow when there is a food allergy or too many carbohydrates in the diet. Dogs and cats can be allergic to poultry, for example or grains such as wheat, corn, gluten or oats. Carbohydrates in most dry kibble for example, can break down to sugar which help feed the infection. Using a high protein, hypoallergenic, grain-free, high moisture diet will help. It is also important to use Omega 3 fatty acids to help fight inflammation. Amazing Omegas is a highly purified fish oil product that can provide your pet with important Omega 3s at a concentrated, therapeutic level.
Since sinus infections can be so difficult to treat, a multipronged strategy using diet, supplements along with conventional veterinary care is needed. Patience is definitely needed and a combination holistic consultation with us would also expedite the recovery process.