“An uncomfortable sensation in breathing” or “a sensation of air hunger” or difficulty in breathing is called dyspnea.
Dyspnea and respiratory distress are believed to occur when the central nervous system notes a difference between the afferent feedback from a given efferent motor drive signal (ventilation demanded) and what the brain had anticipated would be the appropriate afferent response (ventilation achieved).
Dogs and cats are affected. Age, breed, and sex predisposition vary with inciting cause.
Acute or chronic onset of dyspnea is there. It is often associated with coughing, tachypnea and exercise intolerance.
Physical Examination Findings:
General signs of respiratory distress: Increased abdominal effort, nasal flaring, open-mouth breathing, cyanosis, orthopnea (neck extension, elbow abduction) may be there. Other
signs depend on underlying cause. Nasal affection like stertor, nasal discharge, lack of airflow through nostrils, cough, hyperthermia, respiratory effort and noise on inspiration may also be noticed. Dyspnea improves with open-mouth breathing. Tracheal collapse may occur in severe cases. Expiratory wheezes are audible on auscultation. Pulmonary parenchymal disease may have crackles, harsh or moist lung sounds on auscultation may be audible. Cardiogenic pulmonary edema—heart murmur, arrhythmia, hypothermia, pale mucous membranes, prolonged capillary refill time is encountered. Paradoxical respiratory pattern (inward movement of the abdominal wall during inspiration) is also observed. Diaphragmatic Disease like trauma, rupture, hernia may also be the causes for dyspnea. Neoplasia and fibrosis of the lungs may be there as causes of dyspnea.
Anemia may be seen which can cause non-respiratory dyspnea. Polycythemia causes chronic hypoxia. Inflammatory leukogram due to pneumonia or pyothorax. Eosinophilia may be seen due to hypersensitivity or parasitic airway disease. Thrombocytosis may be observed due to hyperadrenocorticism. Azotemia can be noticed due to uremic pneumonitis. Hypoproteinemia is observed which may suggest protein-losing disease that can predispose to hydrothorax as explained by Dr. Sapna Soni (best dog doctor near me).
Other Laboratory Tests:
Pleural fluid analysis, Fecal examination for parasites, Serum antigen or antibody titers can be done to rule out heartworm, toxoplasmosis, distemper.
On cervical and thoracic radiography soft palate elongation, large airway narrowing, lymphadenopathy, intraluminal abnormalities. Lower airway disease—bronchial thickening, middle lung lobe consolidation (cats), atelectasis, hyperinflation and diaphragmatic flattening (primarily cats) can be seen. Pneumonia—alveolar infiltrates; lobar sign-lung lobe torsion, foreign body pneumonia„ neoplasia; cardiogenic pulmonary edema—enlarged cardiac silhouette, pulmonary venous distention, enlarged left atrium can be seen.
Evaluate cardiac function if cardiogenic pulmonary edema or pleural effusion suspected; elevated pulmonary artery pressure and right ventricular overload cab be observed. Abdominal radiography or ultrasound can help in evaluation of abdominal distention as suggested by Pet Prime Veterinary clinic (dog vaccinations near me ).
Abdominal distention: drain ascitic fluid if ascites is the cause of edema por abdominal distention as needed; relieve gastric distention. Oxygen therapy via cage, nasal cannula, E-collar covered in plastic wrap, mask, or flow-by. Monitor temperature regularly, as excess work of breathing results in hyperthermia, which augments respiratory distress.