What is Acute Respiratory Distress in dogs?
Acute Respiratory Distress in dogs is the sudden inability to breathe, exercise or get enough oxygen. It is often an emergency situation which can worry many owners. Respiratory distress can occur for a number of reasons, however acute distress is sudden and not caused by underlying health conditions.
Dogs with acute respiratory distress may collapse, pant heavily, stop breathing completely or gasp for air. Their gums, tongue and other sensitive tissues may appear pale or blue due to lack of oxygen. These symptoms may be caused by a sudden blockage of the lungs or blood vessels from a clot or foreign object, may be caused as a side effect of a poison or allergic reaction, or may be due to intense exercise, injury or heat stress leading to respiratory failure.
How can I prevent Acute Respiratory Distress in my dog?
Taking care to monitor your dog’s breathing and take into account his exercise and activity levels can help prevent respiratory distress. If you are in an area where there may be many foreign objects, toxic plants or venomous animals, making sure to recognize and be alert to these causes can help prevent injury and distress.
Exercising in extreme heat, or for too long of a period can also lead to respiratory distress. Knowing your dog’s health and fitness levels can help you determine how much exercise is appropriate. Taking care to provide water, shade and cooling materials on hot days can also prevent a respiratory episode caused by heat from occurring. Short, less intense exercise can help build up your dog’s fitness levels prior to taking him or her for a long walk, hike or jog.
What should I do if I suspect Acute Respiratory Distress in my dog?
Acute Respiratory Distress is a medical emergency, and in the best case scenario, bringing your dog into his local veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately is best. However, owners may sometimes be in an area where care cannot be given immediately.
Dogs that may be having problems breathing from heat or too much exercise should be brought into a cooling area that is shaded and given cool water. Instead of dousing the dog or submerging them in water, providing a rub down with wet towels or mist from a spray bottle will help cool them slowly. Some dogs may just need a few minutes in a shaded area to return back to normal. However if signs of distress continue, emergency care should be sought.
Many veterinary clinics have oxygen chambers and tanks to provide extra oxygen for dogs in distress. This can be very beneficial during the period of determining what is causing the distress for your dog. Your vet can then run a series of tests including blood work and X-rays to check for causes of the respiratory distress. Your vet can then provide treatment options as needed to get the situation stabilized.
If a foreign object in the mouth or throat is blocking the airway and impeding breathing, it may be able to be removed by an owner. However, if the object is lodged deeply, does not budge, or your dog is in too much distress to have it safely removed, he should be brought to a veterinarian for care. There your vet can provide additional oxygen, and can sedate your dog to safely remove the object.
Knowing canine CPR is an important and potentially life-saving procedure. CPR is usually given as rescue breaths if your dog’s heart is still going, and breathing plus compressions if there is no heart beat. Cupping your dog’s mouth shut and blowing into his nose will provide much needed oxygen if your dog cannot breath on his own. This can be done anywhere, including in a car on the way to the hospital if needed. Providing CPR for a pet in distress may be just enough to allow them to get to care in time.
Natural Remedies for Acute Respiratory Distress in dogs
While there aren’t really many good remedies that can be given in an emergency situation, providing natural remedies for minor ailments, exercising caution in unknown areas or situations, and learning natural techniques such as CPR can help in a situation such as Acute Respiratory Distress. Bringing along a first-aid kit with your top remedies and any medications for your dog can also help prevent this type of situation from occurring.