Management of the dyspneic cat: how to make the best decisions based on a clinical exam that is not always easy to perform
Assessment and emergent treatment of the dyspneic cat is often considered one of the most difficult tasks of the emergency clinician. Underlying causes of dyspnea can vary considerably, and must often be decided with only a history and a brief physical examination.
The dyspneic cat presented in the emergency clinic must be handled very carefully, as it likely has a very low tolerance for stress. Not only is shortness of breath itself a source of great stress, but these cats may have been on multiple car rides to several clinics. While it is often tempting to conduct a physical examination and place an intravenous catheter on arrival, such seemingly benign interventions may lead to decompensation and death, even with oxygen supplementation. The key components of emergent care consist simply in oxygen supplementation and a low stress environment with minimal handling. Consult this video and learn how to make the best decisions based on a clinical exam that is not always easy to perform!