Breathing Problems

Breathing problems in a pet suggest a problem within the respiratory tract. While the cause of this problem may range from a mild allergy to a complicated cancer, it is critical that your pet be examined by a veterinarian the moment you notice a change in their breathing pattern. Changes in a pet’s breathing pattern indicate distress and should not be confused with panting, which can be described as fast-paced, open-mouthed breathing that dogs perform to relax or cool off.

When at rest or around the house, a pet’s normal breathing rate is between 10 to 30 breaths per minute. Faster breathing suggests anxiety, fever, pain, or a serious health issue. If your pet appears to have rapid breathing or labored breathing, we advise against trying to manage the situation on your own and recommend seeking veterinary care immediately.

Symptoms of breathing problems: 

  • Coughing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Eye discharge
  • Excessive and labored/forced breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal discharge
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Snorting
  • Weight loss

Common causes of respiratory complications: 

  • Allergies
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Bronchitis
  • Nasal tumor
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Complications of heartworm disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Poisoning
  • Fluid in lungs or chest cavity
  • Pulmonary thromboembolism
  • Foreign object in throat
  • Severe anemia
  • Heat stroke
  • Shock
  • Kennel cough
  • Swelling of larynx
  • Ketoacidosis
  • Trauma

How are breathing problems treated? After a pet has entered the exam room and the purpose of the veterinary appointment is communicated, the veterinarian will check if labored breathing is visibly apparent. If it is, the veterinarian will immediately try to regain normal breathing by administering oxygen therapy or corticosteroids. In extreme cases or situations where the pet owner has witnessed their pet swallowing an object prior to the veterinary appointment, the vet might try removing the foreign object lodged in the throat or may perform a tracheostomy. After stabilizing the pet’s breathing, a thorough physical examination can be performed to determine any additional causes of the breathing difficulty.

Pets that are diagnosed with more serious conditions usually require hospital care until the veterinarian can ensure that they can breathe sufficiently on their own. Once a pet’s breathing is stabilized, it can be released to the owner with prescription medication. The owner will need to continue giving the pet its medication and restrict their pet’s activity (preventing strenuous exercise), in order to help the pet fully recover.

While some conditions are curable, others will require medicated management or activity reduction for the remainder of the pet’s life. Also, any pet with a history of breathing difficulties should immediately see the veterinarian when there are questionable changes in their breathing patterns.

If you have any questions about breathing irregularities in pets please contact our veterinary office.


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Here's a vet that still cares.
Just wanted to say I love Dr. Petcu's staff and his compassionate , caring way of taking care of my dogs.The staff is not only friendly and professional ,they know who you are when you arrive ,and they actually love animals. Is the first Animal Hospital that my dogs are at ease and feel comfortable.The place is very clean and the reception area very elegant and inviting. Exquisite services and Dr. Petcu always take his time to explain the disease and options and still finds time to play with my dogs. He's always treated both his animal and human patients with compassion and dignity,and would never recommend procedures unless he truly feels your pet will benefit from it. One of the vets that cares for your pet. The prices are reasonable and the services exceed all expectations. I Highly recommend Dr.Petcu and his hospital.

Reba S

Western Animal Hospital AMAZING! Western Animal Hospital is the best place in the valley .The staff is professional, friendly, caring and accommodating. The hospital is very clean and upscale. The customer service and the provided services are outstanding.Dr. Petcu is one of the most professional veterinarians that i have ever met in my 25 years of pet parenting. I drive across the valley just to see him( i live in Anthem) .He really cares about his animal patients and it shows in every visits . He is very knowledgeable , compassionate, friendly and always takes the time to answer any question i have and explaining in detail any situation we are dealing with. I had my share of visits to many animal hospitals in the valley but none of them had the last technology as Western - digital X-ray ( they send you home with a cd for you x-ray records ) every room has a computer monitor where the x-ray shows and Dr. Petcu can review with me every detail of it. Also they have the laser surgery and digital dental x-ray. Dr. petcu is one of the most
courteous and pleasant Vets I have ever met. The prices are more than reasonable and also they try to accommodate everybody. I cannot recommend them enough. You can rest easy knowing your pets are in their care.I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS HOSPITAL - THEY HAVE A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE IN ME! very good !

Betty K

Western Animal Hospital this doctor is making a lot of sense and will explain everything in details..
prices are great ....

.the best vet I met !! Pam M. 5 Western Animal Hospital - we are bringing our pets to Dr Petcu for 8 years. He was always helpful, many times we did not have the funds to treat our pets but he was fine with us paying when we had the money. He saved our cats in many instances and all I have to say is that I greatly reccomend Western Animal Hospital for any responsable pet owner .

Yolanda M

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