Dyspnea simply means difficulty in breathing and is commonly used to describe an important clinical sign accompanying many of feline health disorders. In itself, the term simply denotes that a cat is having significant problems inhaling and exhaling or having any respiratory issues in general.
In addition to obvious difficulty in breathing in and out, cats exhibiting dyspnea frequently show a variety of associated clinical signs. Their rate of breathing may be noticeably rapid, for example. They may pant noisily with an open mouth and may cough frequently. They may keep their tongue out in worst cases. They may lower their heads, extend their bodies forward, and appear to be gagging and about to vomit.
Dyspnea may be acute, developing over a matter of hours, or chronic, growing in severity gradually over weeks or months. Potential sources of the troubled breathing range widely; they include, for example, foreign bodies in the nasal passages, congestive heart failure, lung tumors or other serious pulmonary disorders, excessive stomach fluid, chest injuries, viral diseases, and foreign objects that have become lodged in the windpipe. The three most common causes of respiratory distress are asthma and its acute exacerbation; heart failure, which causes fluid to build up in the lungs; and pleural effusion, a collection of fluid in the space surrounding the lungs that makes it difficult for a cat to expand its chest.
Risk factors for dyspnea will vary according to the risk factors associated with the condition that is causing the respiratory distress. Labored breathing stemming from heart failure, for example, will tend to affect older cats, since they are at elevated risk for that condition. Asthma-induced dyspnea, on the other hand, can affect cats of all ages.
Any cat that is showing signs of breathing difficulty—whatever the cause—is at high risk of complications if the respiratory problem is not treated promptly. And treatment will depend on diagnosis of the underlying cause. Cat Asthma is treated with drugs to reduce inflammation and open airways just as in humans.
Difficult breathing is an emergency and should be checked by an Edmonton emergency clinic straightaway. A qualified veterinarian is equipped to do a proper examination and to run the basic tests like X ray and blood tests that will determine the source of the dyspnea and the proper treatment for it.”
Modified form - Cornell Feline health center