Our pets, the companions who fill our lives with laughter, love and endless antics, occasionally have health issues. As responsible custodians and caregivers, it’s our duty to promptly recognize and address these concerns. One emerging area of interest in pet healthcare is the use of oxygen. Dog owners are now asking, “Does my dog need oxygen?” or “Can my cat breathe oxygen?”. In this extended guide, we’ll explore the conditions necessitating oxygen for pets, early signs to look out for, and the latest in oxygen therapy for our furry friends.
Did you know that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – or COPD – is a progressive lung disease that is not exclusive to humans? Dogs and cats, especially those exposed to irritants like smoke or dust over extended periods, can also develop COPD. This condition causes inflammation and scarring in the lungs, and can progressively worsen. In cats, a similar condition termed "feline asthma" is prevalent, characterized by periodic respiratory distress and coughing.
Our pets can suffer from various heart disorders, with some breeds being genetically predisposed. Heart conditions, like congestive heart failure, can cause inadequate oxygen circulation, resulting in fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema), making breathing more strenuous.
An inflammation of the lungs typically due to infection, pneumonia can severely affect a pet's ability to breathe easy. Both cats and dogs can contract pneumonia, exhibiting symptoms such as cough, fever and increased respiratory rate.
Just as humans can sustain lung injuries from accidents, our pets are also susceptible to trauma that can impact how well we breathe and circulate oxygen in the body. While not common, collisions, falls and other traumas can lead to contusions or punctures in the lungs.
Some breeds have anatomy that result in mild to more impactful respiratory challenges. Breeds with short noses and flat faces, such as Bulldogs, Pugs or Persian cats, may experience breathing difficulties due to narrowed nostrils or elongated soft palates.
Early detection of lower than optimal oxygen levels in your pet is ideal. If you notice your cat or dog is experiencing or suffering from any of the symptoms listed herein, contact a veterinarian for advice and next steps.
An unusually rapid breathing rate, especially when at rest, could indicate respiratory distress.
Known as cyanosis, this is a clear sign of decreased oxygen in the bloodstream.
Notice if your pet is taking shallow breaths, exhaling longer than inhaling, or making wheezing sounds. This could be indicative of respiratory or cardiac issues.
A pet who is unusually inactive or disinterested in play could be signaling health distress.
A persistent or worsening cough can be indicative of respiratory conditions, from infections to obstructions.
Pets might constantly shift positions or show signs of discomfort, mainly due to difficulty in breathing.
Oxygen for cats and dogs isn't a new concept, but the increasing availability, portability and easy-to-use delivery mechanisms, such as Oxygen Plus, are changing the use of oxygen supplementation in pet care. In fact, it was pet owners themselves who first used lightweight canisters of oxygen designed for active, wellness-minded people on pets. Oxygen Plus reports several of its early consumers sprayed the nozzle of their oxygen canister into their aging or failing pet’s nose – helping the pet feel more energized. One poignant story is from a California couple whose dog had cancer. Every day, they’d cart their dog to the beach in a Radio Flyer, and then spray the gentle flow of oxygen into their dog’s nose, giving their dog enough oxygen (energy) to romp on the sand and in the water for a bit. Stories about how Oxygen Plus helps pets – and people – live happier, more revitalized days is not uncommon.
Our pets are more than just animals; they are family. Their well-being rests on our shoulders. Recognizing the conditions and signs that might necessitate a pet owner's attention is vital. As veterinary medicine advances, so do the tools at our disposal.
Staying informed, consulting with veterinarians and being proactive in our pet's health can significantly enhance the quality and longevity of life. Our pets' loyalty and love deserve nothing less than our utmost care, time and attention. Let’s keep giving our pets, and treating them with, our very best – whatever it takes!