The management of the patient’s airways and breathing is vital to his survival. Without airway passability and functional respiration, efforts to help life-threatening patients are in vain.
Patients who are in respiratory distress belong to the group of life-threatening patients and require urgent veterinary intervention, all to prevent hypoxia, shock, and death. The most commonly used term for shortness of breath is dyspnea (lat. Dyspnea) – which by definition means difficulty breathing or breathing with effort. Dyspnoea as a symptom occurs in abnormalities that occur in any part of the respiratory tract. When it comes to conditions that lead to dyspnea, they can be divided into diseases of the upper parts of the respiratory system, diseases of the lung parenchyma, and diseases of the pleura.
Patients who have difficulty with the respiratory tract often have the following symptoms – shortness of breath (dyspnea), tachypnea (rapid breathing), anxiety, restlessness, cyanosis and/or pale mucous membranes, mouth breathing, cough, taking unnatural body positions (elbow expansion, stretching) heads).
It is very important to provide oxygen to patients who have breathing problems until the primary disease that led to difficulty breathing is resolved. There are different types of oxygen therapy, and it will depend on the severity of the patient’s condition and the assessment of which method the animal will best tolerate.
In most patients, we start oxygen therapy during the examination of the animal, and in some cases, especially when it comes to cats, it is necessary to first put the animal on oxygen until it calms down so that the examination is possible and does not worsen the animal’s current condition.
Oxygen therapy methods are as follows:
- Flow by – releasing oxygen to the animal directly under the nose through a hose connected to an oxygen source. This method is the least stressful for the animal, it is easy to implement, it is not expensive, but the percentage of inhaled oxygen is not high.
- Mask – similar to the first case, with the difference that a mask is placed on the hose, which reduces the scattering of oxygen around the room, which enables the achievement of a higher concentration of oxygen in the inhaled air. This method is usually not well tolerated by animals.
- Oxygen cage – a specially designed cage in which animals are placed, and which is filled with oxygen. The advantage of this method is that in addition to the percentage of oxygen, we can also adjust the temperature and humidity in the cage. Its disadvantages are the price and the possibility of oxygen toxicity
if they have been in it too long.
- Intranasal cannulas – placement of intranasal cannulas can be technically demanding, but it is one of the more efficient ways of supplementing patients with oxygen. The disadvantage is that certain animals may have a problem with the tolerance of intranasal cannulas.
- Transtracheal catheter – one of the methods performed in complete airway blockage and is often an introduction to a complete tracheotomy.
If none of these methods contribute to the improvement of the animal’s respiratory function, mechanical ventilation of the patient is required.