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Oxygen Therapy in the Animals
Heart Disease
9 April 2024

Would all animals with heart disease have coughing, panting, or even breathing difficulty? I will say it depends on what kind of heart disease and how severe it is. First of all, we should understand heart disease is not equal to the congested heart failure. Heart disease means some problem happens in a heart but it maybe or maybe not severe to cause congested heart failure.


Congested heart failure results in the retention of overfull fluid inside the body (especially in the lung and chest), and this causes patients becoming rapid and difficult breathing. Oxygen therapy is a treatment to provide patients with extra oxygen to breathe in, and It is used to stabilize the dyspneic animals.


There are many different methods to provide oxygen therapy. Flow-by oxygen and oxygen facemask are usually used when vets need to do some short-procedure (ie, placing IV catheter) and physical exam with a patient who has respiratory distress. They are less stressful to animals but not suitable for longer term usage (ie, hospitalization or home use).


Oxygen cage is an another efficient and convenient method of supplementing oxygen to small animal patients.


However, control of temperature, humidification, and ventilation is of paramount importance. More sophisticated and expensive models enable climate control and even have soda lime systems in place to prevent rebreathing of carbon dioxide.


An advantage of oxygen cages is the physical separation of the patient. This can be helpful in animals for which handling could worsen anxiety and respiratory distress. The disadvantage of this approach is that vets cannot check patients too often. The oxygen concentration would drop very rapidly when the cage door is opened. This also limits the usefulness of this approach when frequent patient reassessment would be ideal.


For larger dogs, oxygen cages may be too confining to be comfortable. The placement of nasal oxygen lines could be more convenient.


Oxygen therapy is important in stabilizing animals with respiratory distress. But could sole oxygen therapy treat or even cure all heart disease? The answer is no and it depends on different condition.


For example, the dyspneic animal with pulmonary edema, providing pure oxygen is not enough. In this circumstance, the effect of diuretics is better than oxygen therapy. Removing overmuch fluid in the lungs by diuretics is more important than just supplementing pure oxygen.


The other scenario is animal with breathing difficulty and pulmonary edema due to pulmonary hypertension. Oxygen therapy is much better and important for these animal patients and sometimes lowering the pulmonary hypertension by oxygen could also decrease the severity of pulmonary edema which was caused by pulmonary hypertension.


☎️ If your pets are in an emergency or if you have general inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact Veterinary Emergency Centre (VEC).

General Hotline: 2334-2334
24-Hour Emergency Hotline: 6828-6620

General Hotline: 2334-2334

24Hr Emergency Hotline: 6828-6620


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