Your cat may be panting but that doesn't necessarily mean that its breathing is labored. Labored breathing actually means that your pet is struggling to breathe. Below our Turlock vets explain what to do if your pet is having difficulties breathing.
Labored Breathing in cats
In order to be able to recognize when your cat is having trouble breathing it's important to distinguish between breathing quickly (tachypnea) and actually struggling to breathe (dyspnea).
- Tachypnea is the fast breathing we all experience when exercising.
- Dyspnea is when your animal is actually having difficulties taking breaths or is short of breath.
Labored breathing is a veterinary emergency that requires immediate action, but how can you tell if your cat is struggling to breathe properly? When cats and dogs are experiencing breathing difficulties the symptoms they will exhibit may be different.
What does labored breathing in cats look like?
It's very common for cats to hide when they aren't feeling well which can make spotting the signs of labored breathing challenging for cat owners. When a cat is experiencing difficulties breathing they may show 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 difficulties breathing?
If your 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 cats?
Some of the most common health issues that can lead to breathing difficulties in cats include:
- Infectious diseases
- Growths in the upper airway
- Heart failure
- Metabolic issues
- Exposure to toxins
How is labored breathing in pets treated?
After your pet has had a thorough examination the treatment prescribed by your veterinarian will depend upon the underlying cause of your pet's breathing difficulties. 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.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.