Do inhaled or oral glucocorticoids more effectively control feline asthma?



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PICO question

In cats with chronic bronchospasm and airway hypersensitivity (asthma) do oral glucocorticoids or inhaled glucocorticoids more effectively control the clinical signs?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research question


The number and type of study designs reviewed

Three prospective randomised clinical trials were appraised. Two of the studies followed a crossover design and had a control group, whilst the third study described an interrupted time series

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

The available studies deemed a reduction in eosinophilia on bronchoalveolar lavage fluid analysis, and a reduction in airway resistance as markers of treatment efficacy


There is weak evidence to suggest equal treatment efficacy of oral and inhaled glucocorticoid therapy for management of feline asthma. Higher powered studies would be required before a definitive recommendation can be made


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


Leemans, J., Kirschvink, N., Clercx, C., Snaps, F. & Gustin, P. (2012). Effect of short-term oral and inhaled corticosteroids on airway inflammation and responsiveness in a feline acute asthma model. The Veterinary Journal. 192(1), 41–48. DOI:

Reinero, C. R., Decile, K. C., Byerly, J. R., Berghaus, R. D., Walby, W. F., Berghaus, L. J., Hyde, D. M., Schelegle, E. S. & Gershwin, L. J. (2005). Effects of drug treatment on inflammation and hyperreactivity of airways and on immune variables in cats with experimentally induced asthma. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 66(7), 1121–1127. DOI:

Verschoor-Kirss, M., Rozanski, E. A., Sharp, C. R., Oura, T. J., Egan, A., Bain, P. & Knoll, J. (2021). Treatment of naturally occurring asthma with inhaled fluticasone or oral prednisolone: a randomized pilot trial. The Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research. 85(1), 61–67.

Vol. 7 No. 4 (2022): The fourth issue of 2022

Section: Knowledge Summaries

Categories :  Small Animal  /  Dogs  /  Cats  /  Rabbits  /  Production Animal  /  Cattle  /  Sheep  /  Pig  /  Equine  /  Exotics  /