The analysis of exhaled breath is a potentially useful method for application in veterinary diagnostics. Breath samples can be easily collected from animals by means of a face mask or collection chamber with minimal disturbance to the animal. After the administration of a 13C-labelled compound the recovery of 13C in breath can be used to investigate gastrointestinal and digestive functions. Exhaled hydrogen can be used to assess orocaecal transit time and malabsorption, and exhaled nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and pentane can be used to assess oxidative stress and inflammation. The analysis of compounds dissolved in the aqueous phase of breath (the exhaled breath condensate) can be used to assess airway inflammation. This review summarises the current status of breath analysis in veterinary medicine, and analyses its potential for assessing animal health and disease.
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