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How to Tell If Your Cat or Dog Is Having Trouble Breathing

Trouble breathing (or “respiratory distress”) is a true medical emergency and should be treated by an ER as soon as possible.

It can be caused by many triggers including allergic reactions, heart disease, choking, overheating, high stress or pain levels, and more – but regardless of the cause, struggling to breathe is extremely dangerous.

What To Look For:

  • Noisy breathing (wheezing, snorting, gagging, etc.)
  • Breathing with extra “effort” (you can see the belly moving in and out more than normal with each breath)
  • Breathing very rapidly (over 40 breaths per minute while at rest) or shallow breaths (very short/weak inhales)
  • Pale or grey/blue-tinted gums, tongue, and skin
  • In cats: Open-mouth breathing (“panting” like a dog) is rare in cats unless they are extremely stressed, painful, or overheated. If your cat is open-mouth breathing without an obvious cause, contact an emergency vet immediately.

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