Understanding Respiratory Distress in Pets

When a pet is displaying signs that they cannot breathe, it’s important to take immediate action. Respiratory distress is an emergency situation that requires immediate intervention to secure positive outcomes for your pet’s health and safety. As such, it’s essential to understand the symptoms of respiratory distress and how to react as a pet owner.

Signs Your Pet Is Having Trouble Breathing

When a pet is in respiratory distress, it may be from one of many causes, including a foreign object blocking their airway or underlying medical problem. Regardless of the cause, there are several signs to look out for. The common symptoms of respiratory distress in pets include the following:

  • Persistent wheezing, heaving, gagging, or coughing
  • Blue discoloration of the skin, gums, or tongue
  • Visibly extended neck, heaving chest, or flared nostrils
  • Fast and shallow breaths
  • Open mouthed breathing (cats)

Reasons For Respiratory Distress

Respiratory distress in pets can be brought on by many different things. An animal may have difficulty breathing when ingesting a foreign object that gets caught in their airway. Furthermore, many types of medical complications and illnesses can lead to fluid build-up that hinders an animal’s breathing. The common reasons for respiratory distress include:

  • Blockages from objects in the airway
  • Heat exhaustion 
  • Allergies
  • Pneumonia
  • Kennel cough
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Injuries or chest trauma

Your Pet’s Safe Respiratory Range

To identify whether your pet is breathing normally or if they are experiencing respiratory distress, it’s essential to understand your pet’s normal breathing range. To check if your dog is breathing properly, count their respirations for one minute. If they are taking between 12 and 40 breaths each minute, they are in the safe range. However, if they are taking more than 60 breaths per minute, they are in need of emergency veterinary care. To determine if your cat is in respiratory distress, the process is slightly different than that of a dog’s. For 15 seconds, count how many respirations your cat is having and multiply the number by four. If the number exceeds 40, your cat must be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

It’s vital to seek prompt veterinary intervention in the event of your pet going into respiratory distress. For more information, contact your trusted emergency veterinary hospital today.

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