When your dog starts panting nonstop or your cat is breathing with his mouth open, it’s obvious that something unusual is going on. But sometimes, abnormal breathing comes on so slowly and stealthily that you notice it only after it becomes serious.
Dog breathing problems can affect all breeds and ages and can quickly become life-threatening.
Sure, some pets breathe noisily all the time, just as some dogs pant a lot. But if you ever see that your pet is breathing abnormally, consider it an emergency and contact your veterinarian immediately — especially if he’s having difficult or labored breathing, is also called dyspnea.
Respiratory distress is recognized by an increased effort to breathe; noisy breathing; cyanosis (a bluish tinge to the lips and mucous membranes); and an inability to inhale or exhale.
What to Do
• Keep the pet calm.
• Suction the mouth free of any fluid that interferes with breathing.
• If you can see that your pet is choking on a foreign object and you can safely put your hand in his mouth, reach in with your fingers and sweep them across the back of his throat to attempt to dislodge the item. If you can’t see the object, don’t try this.
• If the pet is overheated, wrap him in a wet towel.
• Seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible.
What NOT to Do
• Do not upset the pet.
• Do not perform rescue breathing on a conscious pet.
• Do not give anything by mouth.
Dyspnea, or difficulty breathing, is a serious sign. Causes include heart failure, severe asthma (yes, dogs and cats do get asthma), allergic reactions, bronchitis, pneumonia, paralysis or obstruction of the trachea, poisoning, and many other conditions. It is imperative to get the pet examined to determine the cause.
Ineffectual Panter Syndrome
A special condition called ineffectual panter syndrome warrants to mention for dog owners who live in warm climates. It affects brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds (e.g., English Bulldog, Pekingese, Chinese Pug). Because of the short nose, the soft palate can interfere with breathing. On hot days or in hot environmental conditions these dogs try to cool by panting vigorously and the soft palate interferes even more. This cycle continues until the dog is severely dyspneic and overheated. Cooling these dogs is imperative. Wrap them in a wet towel and move them to a cool environment.
Overheating can be incredibly dangerous for your pet. And for dog owners who live in hot climates or those who spend long days in the summer sun, keeping man’s best friend cool is a necessity.
The Ruffwear cooling vest is an amazing invention.
Designed to keep your dog cool during even the hottest of days. To use the Ruffwear , all you do is soak it in cold water before you take your dog out — and as the water evaporates, the vest lowers the dog’s temperature. The vest comes in six sizes and attaches at the belly and chest for a snug fit. It also has a reflective piece on top so that it can be used all hours of the day, and can even support an attached flashlight for an extra level of safety.
The prognosis for dogs with breathing difficulties depends on the underlying cause. If you notice any worsening in the way your dog is breathing, it is important to consult with your veterinarian immediately.