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Pet Respiratory Distress: Symptoms, Causes, and First Aid

No pet parent wants to deal with an emergency with their furry friend. Unfortunately, accidents and emergencies happen, regardless of all the precautions you take. Knowledge of basic first aid can mean the difference between life and death. Pets suffer from breathing difficulties, which can be fatal. Your actions can make a difference in the life of your pet.



Causes of Pet Respiratory Distress


Various conditions can cause respiratory distress in pets. The respiratory system is responsible for oxygenation and breathing. The most common cause of breathing issues is respiratory infections.


They can be the result of viruses, bacterial pathogens, or fungal spores. Infections can lead to severe inflammation of the respiratory tract that causes the narrowing of the airways. Sometimes, the tract lining can produce mucus, obstructing the airways and causing breathing problems. Respiratory distress can also be due to cardiovascular disease.



Obstruction of the Airways


Respiratory distress may be due to anatomical or mechanical respiratory tract changes. An obstruction of the airways is a leading cause of breathing problems. A foreign object can get stuck, causing breathing difficulties. It could also be food stuck in the upper airways or oral cavity. Growths or tumors can obstruct the respiratory tract. Emergency care can help restore proper breathing function.



Symptoms of Respiratory Distress 


Several symptoms can indicate that your pet is suffering from respiratory distress. They include:


  • Increased effort to breathe

  • Rapid and shallow breathing

  • Producing loud breathing sounds

  • Open-mouthed breathing

  • Gums turning blue (cyanosis). It is due to poor blood circulation and a lack of oxygen


If you observe any of these signs, get to the veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian can help determine the cause of the breathing difficulties.



Respiratory Distress: How to Help Your Pet


If your pet is having difficulty breathing, you must remain calm. It will enable you to take the right actions. Place the animal in a quiet, cool spot to prevent environmental factors that can worsen the distress. Check the mouth for signs of food or foreign body obstruction.


If the obstruction is in the oral cavity, gently remove it to allow the animal to breathe. If it is deeper, you can perform the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the object. If the animal is not breathing, perform rescue breathing, or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to introduce oxygen into the lungs.



Immediate Veterinary Intervention 


Even as you perform first aid, it is essential to seek immediate veterinarian intervention. Perform rescue breathing on your way to the nearest emergency clinic. If done correctly, the animal’s lungs should expand when you breathe into the nostrils. You may need to repeat the action up to 10 times.


The veterinarian will identify the underlying conditions causing the distress. Various tests and procedures will help diagnose the issue. Respiratory distress can be fatal if not treated promptly. Getting to the veterinarian will ensure that your pet gets appropriate treatment as soon as possible.


For more on pet respiratory distress, visit Dallas Animal Emergency at our Dallas, Texas, office. Call 214-520-2222 to schedule an appointment today.

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