3 Things You Can Do When Your Pet Is Having Difficulty Breathing

Your pet may have difficulty breathing after a quick sprint outside. However, if your pet displays labored breathing frequently, it may be a sign of something more serious. Learn here about signs of severe illness that require a trip to the vet, or what you can do to alleviate breathing problems.

Here’s 3 Things You Can Do When Your Pet Is Having Difficulty Breathing

dog lying on the floor

Your pet is not just an animal; they are a member of your family. If you find that your pet cat or dog is having problems breathing, it is essential to discern the cause and administer a solution quickly.

Animals and humans are both capable of developing respiratory problems, thanks to weight-related issues, a prolonged illness, or as a side-effect of another problem.  Pets may occasionally experience difficulty breathing, but recurrent episodes that don’t easily subside may require a checkup with the veterinarian. Once you are capable of assessing the cause of your pet’s breathing problems, you can administer the appropriate remedy. If a pet continues to exhibit difficulty breathing for extended periods, it could result in a fatality if not careful. Don’t give in to panicking or anxiety about your pet. You can take action to help your pet breathe easier. Remember that your pet looks to you for safety and assurance, so keep calm and level headed.

Causes Of Breathing Problems For Your Pet

Causes Of Breathing Problems For Your Pet

You should acquaint yourself with the triggers that can cause your pet to have a hard time breathing. Of course, if you are having fun running around with your cat or dog, it is understandable that they may wheeze, pant, or struggle to catch their breath. If your animal friend is often showing hardship getting enough oxygen, you should show concern by examining them more closely. Cat, dogs, and rodents may suffer challenges to their respiratory system for more than a few reasons.

Animals may have difficulty breathing because of their physical makeup, asthma, anemia, or being overweight. Any pet who has diagnosed heart problems may find it hard to breathe after getting intense exercise or maintaining a state of being overly excited for too long. There are some reasonable explanations behind breathing challenges for a pet, depending if they are a cat, dog, or rodent.

When your dog or cat has a breathing problem, it is typically labeled as dyspnea. If a cat or dog is experiencing rapid breathing, which can be a sign of heat stroke or stress, it is called tachypnea. Challenges with breathing can be triggered in a pet because of the following.

  • Infection or allergy
  • Pain, trauma, or a fever
  • A structural anomaly
  • Health conditions of the heart, anemia, allergies, or a tumor

Observe your pet closely if they seem to be in distress because of breathing difficulties. Do not simply ignore challenges with breathing, as it could escalate to a life-threatening point if left untreated. Certain breeds of dogs, such as Yorkshire Terriers, French bulldogs, pugs, and Chihuahuas are more likely to exhibit problems because of their physical structure.

Animals who are severely overweight may have hardship getting enough oxygen, as excess fat, fur, and body weight stress their organs. Certain breeds that are prone to breathing problems coupled with obesity or disease are at higher risk.

Rodent Breathing Problems

a labrador

Rodents are a bit more specialized than dogs or cats when it comes to respiratory distress. Disease, dirty bedding or unsanitary environments can cause a rat or mouse to have difficulty breathing. Mycoplasmosis is a respiratory condition that can occur in rodents, which is triggered by bacteria and has no cure.  Stress or other diseases can trigger respiratory problems if a rodent suffers from a weakened immune system.

Mycoplasmosis is highly contagious, and it should be treated with antibiotics, coupled with other medicines depending on the severity. If a pet parent has more than one animal, a sick pet should be quarantined to reduce the chance of cross-contamination. Breathing issues in rodents can also be caused by stress and confirmed via nasal discharge and lethargic behavior.  If streptococcus bacteria spirals out of control, then a rodent can develop breathing problems.

Tumors, chilly environments, and pneumonia can also trigger difficulty breathing in rodents. Mice and rats need clean bedding that is changed frequently to reduce mold, irritation, and maintain comfort.

Reverse Sneeze

Reverse Sneeze

Dogs are more apt to experience reverse sneezing, but it is rarely seen in cats. When a canine is exhibiting a reverse sneeze, it can seem pretty scary if you are unsure of what is going on. During a reverse sneeze, a dog may make a distinctive noise very loudly while quickly inhaling. A dog is likely to stand with their head and neck extended, and their lips curled back.

A dog will do all of the breathing rapidly through their nose, and the reverse sneeze will emit a ‘snorking’ sound a few times in succession. Usually, reverse sneezing stops after about 15 to 20 seconds. A reverse sneeze can happen because of allergies, mites infecting the nasal passages or other issues with the nose. A dog or cat reverse sneezes as a natural reflex to expel whatever is irritating their passageways. If a pet is frequently reverse sneezing, it is a sign of the animal’s difficulty breathing air, take the dog or cat to the veterinarian for examination. An x-ray or rhinoscopy may better reveal the cause behind your pet’s breathing issues.

When a dog is reverse sneezing, you can assist your pet by holding the nostrils closed for a few seconds, massaging the throat area, or blowing gently in the animal’s face. It is vital to check a dog’s nasal area to check for obstructions which may need removal, or medication may be needed if a dog has a parasitic infection. Surgery may be needed in extreme cases to relieve an animal. Cats will typically gag to remove obstructions to their airways. Felines display reverse sneezing by throwing their heads backward with a closed mouth, sucking in their lips. Nasal drip, tumors, oral disease, or inflammation may trigger respiratory problems.

What To Do When Breathing Problems Strike

pet owner stroking a dog

If you recognize that your pet is acting differently than usual, and is exhibiting difficulty breathing, you should take action. Depending on the severity of respiratory challenges, you may want to get emergency care immediately, or you can help alleviate the situation.

Stay Calm And Observe Your Pet Closely

dog under a scarf

Do not panic if your dog or cat is showing breathing problems. Your pet looks to you for comfort, safety, and companionship. During their time of need, they will readily pick up on your anxiety and distress. Stay calm, and look over your pet. Observe what type of behavior they are exhibiting while they have difficulty breathing to make a better assessment.

Look at your pet’s pupils, tongue color, and how they hold their head. Listen for any unusual noises, and take note of how frequently your furry family member is showing problems. Most of the time, what seems like a severe breathing issue will work itself out and is a false alarm. However, you don’t want to rule out anything more serious. If your pet is showing extreme signs of distress, is in and out of consciousness, shows color changes in their tongue, or seems lethargic go to the vet immediately. Make sure to check for any obstructions in the mouth or nasal passages, and do what you can to remove anything that is blocking clear breathing.

Try To Diagnose Problem And Act

veterinarian stretching a dog

Before going to the veterinarian for an examination, or after tests and diagnosis, it is important to follow-up with aftercare. If a pet’s breathing problems are connected to dietary sensitivities or weight loss, a pet parent should apply necessary prescribed treatment. Provide your cat or dog with healthy treats, appropriate portion meals, and plenty of time to stretch and get exercise if they need to lose weight. If an animal needs medication, make sure they regularly get the right dosage to keep health problems at bay. It is not good to stop giving a pet medication once they seem to be better. Stopping treatment too early may cause symptoms to flare up again.

Take Pet To Vet For Examination

​Take Pet To Vet For Examination

If a pet parent cannot figure out what is exactly wrong with their pet, it is vital to have a consultation with the veterinarian. A veterinarian will be the only one capable of administering tests to uncover the cause why they have difficulty breathing. Your cat or dog may need to undergo blood tests, x-rays, and other tests to determine if there is a parasite, virus, traumatic injury, or other health problem contributing to breathing difficulties.

Sometimes, there is no other way to correct problems without the use of medication or surgery. Health ailments like diabetes, heart problems, or anemia cannot be seen by the naked eye, and can only be determined through tests. Thankfully, medication, healthy diets, and exercise can help get your furry family member back to a state of wellness.

It is best to implement the recommendations of a veterinarian for the benefit of a pet’s health. Humans can do their part to ensure their animal friends are kept healthy, safe, and live vibrant lives. When in doubt, do not hesitate to call your local veterinarian for advice or an appointment for your pet. Their life may depend on your thoughtfulness and timely action.

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