Louie is one of our feline patients. He is 13 years old and was brought to us when his owner noted that he seemed to be breathing differently at home. He was breathing at a faster rate than normal and with an increased effort. When we took chest x-rays of Louie, there was fluid seen in his chest, surrounding his lungs and compressing them making it harder for him to breath. The two most common causes of fluid in the chest in cats are a heart condition or a lung condition (most notably, cancer). Due to the fluid in his chest, it was difficult to tell if Louie had any masses in his chest and his heart was hard to see as well. Using a small needle and syringe, we were able to draw a lot of fluid off of Louie’s chest to help him breathe much more easily and we recommended that Louie have an ultrasound performed on his heart to evaluate it for disease. An ultrasound of the heart is known as an echocardiogram and Louie’s was performed by our internist Dr. Hopper (who also does most of our abdominal ultrasounds as well).

Louie’s echocardiogram revealed that he did, in fact, have a condition affecting his heart that had caused fluid to build up in his chest. Dr. Hopper suggested a course of medications for Louie to help his heart function better and Louie has been doing very well since his diagnosis last August. He is on a number of different medicines to help his heart function and prevent the fluid from building up in his chest again but he is handling them like a champ. We will continue to watch Louie closely as this is not a curable disease but we will help his owners keep him comfortable and doing well for as long as possible. Keep up the great work Louie!

Any changes in your pets breathing are important to investigate. There are a number of conditions in both cats and dogs that can alter the way that they breathe and may cause them to breath faster than normal or with more effort than normal. It’s particularly important if these changes are noted when your pet is at rest at home.