Sea Otter Diagnosed with Asthma is Learning How to Use an Inhaler

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A sea otter diagnosed with asthma is being taught how to use an inhaler.

One-year-old Mishka, who has lived at the Seattle Aquarium since January, is believed to be the first ever sea otter to be diagnosed with the condition.

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The critter started having difficulty breathing after smoke from wildfires in Eastern Washington swept into the Puget Sound area last month.

In a blog post, the aquarium said its veterinarian, Dr. Lesanna Lahner, diagnosed her with asthma after "actually listening to her chest just like an M.D. would listen a child's lungs."

They are now teaching her to use an inhaler just like humans do.

Marine biologist Sara Perry uses food to train the Mishka to push her nose on the inhaler and take a breath.

"“We try to make it as fun as possible,” she explained. “Anytime you're training a medical behavior, you want to make it nice and positive.”

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Staff said that Mishka is responding well, saying: "She's a quick study, especially when food is involved!"

The aquarium pointed out that while many believe asthma is a condition that affects only humans, any animal can have it.

Since 2001, the Seattle Aquarium has been a part of the Washington Survey of the sea otter population.

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