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Difficulty Breathing in Cats & Dogs

Difficulty Breathing in Cats & Dogs

Learn about pet breathing difficulties and get guidance from Clovis veterinarians. Don't ignore your furry friend's breathing problems.

Tachypnea vs Dyspnea - What is Labored Breathing?

It's crucial to be able to differentiate between tachypnea and dyspnea, especially when it comes to recognizing signs of breathing troubles in your pet. Tachypnea refers to fast breathing, which is common during exercise and doesn't necessarily indicate any respiratory issues.

On the other hand, dyspnea is characterized by labored breathing and shortness of breath, which could be a sign of serious problems in your cat or dog. In case your pet exhibits any symptoms of breathing difficulties, it's important to take immediate action as labored breathing is a veterinary emergency. However, it's worth noting that the symptoms of breathing difficulties may vary in cats and dogs.

What are the signs of labored breathing in dogs?

If your dog is having a hard time breathing you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Exercise intolerance (most notably, when you take them for a walk)
  • Persistent cough, especially at night
  • An increased respiratory rate > 40 bpm
  • Stretching the neck out to breathe
  • An unusually hoarse sounding bark
  • Sighs of anxiety such as restlessness or pacing
  • Constant panting
  • Sitting up with a wide stance to breathe (front legs/elbows spread out)
  • Belly heaving in and out more as they breathe
  • Foaming or frothing at the mouth
  • Blue-tinged gums

What are the signs that my pet is having a difficult time breathing

It's common for cats to conceal themselves when they're unwell, making it difficult for pet owners to detect signs of breathing issues. However, if a cat is having difficulty breathing, they may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Hiding in a quiet place
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended forward
  • Hacking or persistent coughing
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Blue-tinged gums
  • Foaming or frothing from the mouth

What should I do if my pet is having trouble breathing?

If your dog or cat is displaying any signs of breathing difficulties it's time to head to the vet! Labored breathing should always be considered a veterinary emergency. In order to help your pet to breathe easier your vet will need to diagnose the underlying condition that is causing your pet's breathing issues.

What causes labored breathing in dogs and cats?

Pets, such as cats and dogs, may not always have the same health concerns. However, some prevalent ailments that can result in breathing difficulties for pets are:

  • Asthma
  • Infectious diseases 
  • Growths in the upper airway
  • Heart failure
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic issues
  • Pneumonia
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Trauma

How is labored breathing in pets treated?

Once your pet has had a thorough examination the treatment prescribed by your vet will depend upon the underlying cause of your pet's symptoms. Some treatments for labored breathing include:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • IV fluids
  • Steroids to reduce airway inflammation
  • Bronchodilators to expand airway and increase airflow
  • Diuretics to treat fluid in lungs

Additional diagnostic testing may be required in order to pinpoint the precise cause of your pet's breathing difficulties. Diagnostic testing could include chest or abdominal x-rays and electrocardiogram or echocardiogram to check heart function. 

If your furry friend is having trouble breathing, don't hesitate to reach out to our animal hospital in Clovis. We provide urgent care services 24/7.

New Patients Welcome

New Patients Welcome

Family Pet Hospital is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health and well-being of Clovis dogs and cats. Contact us today to get started! 

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