There’s a Sea Otter With Asthma and She Knows How to Use an Inhaler
Mishka, a one-year-old sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium, shares something in common with some 7.1 million kids in the U.S.: She has to learn how to use her inhaler. The young sea otter is the first of her kind to be diagnosed with asthma, the obstructive lung disease that makes breathing difficult.
Mishka first developed a breathing problem in conjunction with wildfires in eastern Washington, which made her environment smoky. When the aquarium’s veterinarian listened to her chest and conducted tests, she diagnosed the otter with asthma. It’s unclear whether the disease was triggered by the irritating smoke in the air, or if Mishka had a genetic predisposition to it.
Regardless, Mishka needs medication to help her breathe easier. Her trainer made using the inhaler (which works just like its human counterpart) into a game with food rewards, helping the otter associate medicine with fun and treats.
Otters aren’t the only animals that suffer from asthma. Cats and horses do, too (and the latter use comically large inhalers).
[h/t: Popular Science]