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There are many diseases and illnesses that can cause breathing difficulties in dogs and cats. The first thing that you can do as the first aider is to know what is normal for your pet. So when you are measuring a respiratory rate, measure different ones. So know roughly what the normal respiratory rate for your pets is when they are asleep and what it is when they are active, when they are exercising, and when they are just resting with you at home.

Respiratory distress isn't just an increase in the respiratory rate, it can be the noises that you make and your pet may make or the way they breathe. So you may find that your pet has got some abdominal efforts when they are breathing. Normally, when you're breathing, the chest will just raise and lower. If there are abdominal involvements where you're seeing the abdomen raise as well, that's giving you a clear that those probably increase pressure in the chest and that the lungs aren't able to expand fully, and therefore you are using some of the exertions from the abdomen to try and get that breath in.

The possible causes of respiratory issues would be an infection and this can be an infection of the lungs, like pneumonia, or it may be an upper respiratory infection. So if you have an upper respiratory infection, you may then have inflammation associated with that, around the throat, around the trachea, and this can cause respiratory problems. You may also notice that there's discharge from the nose or they may be discharged when your pet coughs as a result of the infection or the inflammation. The other causes of inflammation that could cause respiratory issues could be if there's fluid on the chest. This may be caused by an accident, it can be caused by an illness, it may be caused by a tumour on the chest. Tumours themselves can affect the lungs. They can also affect the heart base as well and both of these can then show signs of respiratory distress.

If you have got an animal that is in respiratory distress and they are struggling to breathe, you need to get him to the vet so they can have oxygen treatment. Even if they are not struggling, it's still important to get them seen by the vets because we need to find out why they are having these breathing difficulties. The way we would look into this is to listen to their chest and then also x-ray and potentially ultrasound the chest to look for fluids or potentially look for a lung tumour as well that will be causing the breathing difficulties.