The University of Missouri Respiratory and Aerodigestive Disorders Specialty Clinic is also known as the BREATHE Clinic. BREATHE is an acronym for Bringing REspiration & Aerodigestion Toward Health. Carol Reinero, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, professor of small animal internal medicine, and Aida Vientós-Plotts, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, assistant professor of small animal internal medicine, established the clinic. Reinero and Vientós-Plotts are both board-certified small animal internal medicine specialists with PhDs in immunology and pathobiology (microbiota studies), respectively. These clinicians are at the forefront of clinical practice and research in the field of respiratory medicine and swallowing disorders that impact the respiratory tract (aerodigestive disorders). The main goal of the BREATHE Clinic is to provide a comprehensive evaluation of dogs and cats with respiratory and swallowing disorders to allow individualized management. A secondary goal is to learn more ways to help canine and feline patients by conducting clinical research.
The University of Missouri Veterinary Health Center is equipped with state-of-the art imaging (fluoroscopy, echocardiography/ultrasonography, computed tomography and nuclear medicine) and other advanced diagnostic capabilities. The BREATHE clinicians work closely with criticalists, cardiologists, oncologists, anesthesiologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and nutritionists to provide leading-edge care. There is no other veterinary center in the United States that has the same unique expertise and diagnostic tools as the BREATHE Clinic.
Which pets will benefit from the BREATHE Clinic?
Dogs or cats with any of the following respiratory signs or diseases:
- Chronic cough
- Abnormal noises when breathing (including but not limited to snoring) or barking/meowing
- Exercise intolerance
- Collapse or syncope (which may resemble fainting)
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome
Dogs or cats with any of the following digestive disorders:
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing that may be evidenced by gagging or coughing when eating or drinking, dropping food)
- Regurgitation (passive expulsion of food that resembles frequent “spitting up” or vomiting)
How do I make an appointment?
If you think your pet would be a good candidate for an evaluation with the BREATHE Clinic, you should follow the steps outlined below:
- Contact your veterinarian’s office and ask that any medical records (including images, and medical notes) be sent to us. While a formal referral from your regular veterinarian is not necessary, we do require having copies of the medical record be sent prior to the appointment. This will allow us to thoroughly review the history prior to your visit.
- Make an appointment by calling the Small Animal Hospital (573) 882-7821 and request to be scheduled for the BREATHE Clinic
- At least one week before your appointment you will receive an email with a history questionnaire. Please fill it out as soon as possible (ideally more than 48 hours prior to your appointment). We recommend that you take it at home, while you have access to your pet’s food and medications. It should take 15 to 20 minutes to answer all the questions. Please provide as much detail as possible.
Prior to the day of your appointment
Do not feed your pet after midnight the night before the appointment, however they may have water up until the morning of the appointment. IF your pet is diabetic or younger than 6 months, please contact us via phone (573) 882-7821, so that we can provide more specific instructions about food and water.
What to expect during your appointment
Patients will have an evaluation of their oxygenation levels at the beginning of the appointment. After a complete physical exam, clients will then be provided with recommendations for further diagnostics that may include blood tests, imaging (x-rays, fluoroscopy or CT scan), lung sampling, or infectious disease testing. In most cases of dogs/cats presenting with respiratory signs, clients will need to plan for a minimum two-day visit, during which some diagnostics can be performed on the day of the appointment, and others (especially those requiring anesthesia) on a different day (likely the following day). While this is our goal, we cannot guarantee that all diagnostic tests will be able to be completed during the same visit. Once the diagnostic evaluation is completed, and all the results are received (some of which may take several days), treatment and/or managements recommendations will be provided to the clients, as well as referring veterinarians. A plan for follow-up appointments will also be outlined.
The Small Animal Internal Medicine Service is spearheading clinical research in aerodigestive disorders, diseases that link pathology of both the digestive tract and the respiratory tract. We are working to identify novel diseases and to provide better treatments for dogs and cats and improve their quality of life. To support our mission, please consider a gift in honor of your pet.