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Identifying Respiratory Distress in Pets

As pet owners, keeping our furry companions safe, happy, and healthy is a top priority. Pets, just like humans can fall victim to illness and health complications, leaving pet owners in a scary situation as they try to understand the symptoms their pet may be displaying. One of the most frightening experiences a pet owner may go through is watching their pet experience respiratory distress. To help mitigate unfavorable outcomes in urgent situations where a pet is in respiratory distress, we have compiled a guide to help you identify the symptoms, so you can promptly take action. 

What Causes Respiratory Distress? 

Respiratory distress in pets may be caused by a number of different factors and underlying conditions. These situations can span from mild to life-threatening. Common causes of respiratory distress in pets includes: 

  • Obstructions within the airway, swallowing foreign objects, or allergic reactions
  • Heat exhaustion 
  • Respiratory Infections, such as kennel cough or pneumonia 
  • Congestive heart failure and other cardiac problems that result in an accumulation of fluid within the lungs. 
  • Injuries or chest trauma 

What Are the Signs of Respiratory Distress? 

If your pet is in respiratory distress, there will likely be one or several signs that indicate it’s time to get your pet to your local veterinarian immediately. The signs may include: 

  • Fast-paced breathing and shallow breaths 
  • Persistent wheezing or coughing 
  • Visible difficulty breathing, including heaving chest, extended neck, and flared nostrils
  • Choking, gagging, or otherwise struggling to swallow 
  • Discoloration of the gums, tongue, or skin due to lack of oxygen

What Do I Do When a Pet Is In Respiratory Distress? 

Although respiratory distress is a traumatic event for the animal and pet owner alike, it’s essential to stay calm. Your pet picks up on your emotions, so staying calm and acting in a decisive manner will help ease your pet’s nerves while maintaining control of the situation. Remove any obstructions when possible and make sure your pet is getting air as you monitor their vital signs. Then, get them to an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. 

For more information about respiratory distress in pets and how to handle these types of situations, contact your trusted veterinarian today.

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