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Cat Heart And Lungs

Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse occurs most often in middle-aged to older dogs. The diagnosis is suggested by a honking cough precipitated by activity, excitement or water drinking. Nonproductive coughing may occur without a stimulus. Tracheal collapse results when the windpipe (tracheal) cartilages soften. The trachea should resemble a relatively firm garden hose. Viewed on end, the windpipe is a U-shaped structure with a tight membrane covering the top. Where cartilage softens, it collapses and widens at the top. The membrane then drapes (collapses) loosely, blocking the inside of the trachea. Depending on where the collapse is most severe, this results in an inability to bring air into or out of the trachea and lungs during breathing. Complications of this disease include lung problems, heart disease or heart failure, enlarged liver and chronic kidney insufficiency. Dental infections, elongated soft palate, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis and obesity aggravate the disease. Symptoms Signs vary and include mild to severe panting, respiratory distress and bluish discoloration of the mucous membranes (cyanosis). Abdominal breathing efforts result in tense abdominal muscles. Dogs with tracheal collapse are frequently overweight but may be thin. A heart murmur associated with valvular heart disease is often encountered because both problems occur in aging

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Heart Medications

Amiodarone Amiodarone is an anti-arrhythmic medication, which may be used to control multiple types of arrhythmias. It has been shown to potentially convert atrial fibrillation back to a normal rhythm. It is only given once daily, after an initial loading period (higher dose for 5-7 days). Side effects include loss of appetite, vomiting, liver failure (which may be reversible if the drug is stopped) and destruction of platelets by the immune system. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors These medications are used to prevent fluid retention. They also help to control some of the hormones that are elevated with significant heart disease and congestive heart failure, as well as prevent fibrosis (scarring) of the heart muscle. Side effects include increases in potassium and kidney values (BUN, creatinine). Either enalapril or benazepril may be used. Atenolol Atenolol is a beta blocker. It may be used to control multiple types of arrhythmias. It can also be used for patients with heart disease such as subaortic stenosis, pulmonic stenosis or hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy to slow the heart rate and allow the heart more time to fill with blood. Side effects include lethargy, weakness and loss of appetite. This medication CANNOT be started or stopped abruptly,

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Pyothorax

Anatomy The chest contains various structures such as the heart, lungs and esophagus. The chest cavity in which the organs or located is called the pleural space. What is pyothorax? Pyothorax is known as an accumulation of a septic exudate (pus) within the pleural space. In other words, an accumulation of fluid that contains an infectious (usually bacteria) agent and immune system cells in the space surrounding the lungs and heart. Often the original cause for this disease can be difficult to identify. Pyothorax can be caused by a penetrating wound through the chest wall, a foreign body traveling through tissues around the chest wall, holes that were created in the esophagus or trachea (or other airway into the lungs), a ruptured lung abscess, an  extension of pneumonia, postoperative infection or by spreading from the blood. This can also be idiopathic (a totally unknown cause),  especially in cats. Clinical signs The first sign usually noticed is that the pet has trouble breathing (described as dyspnea). The pet may be breathing more rapidly, having to make more of an effort to breathe, the belly may be moving a lot to help the pet breathe or the pet may stretch out its

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Pneumonia

Pneumonia is characterized by inflammation of the lungs. It is rare in cats and far less common in dogs than in people. There are many types of pneumonia, with bacterial and fungal infections being the most common. The lungs of dogs and cats are normally not very susceptible to primary bacterial pneumonia, but prior lung damage predisposes them to secondary invasion by bacteria. In young animals, canine distemper virus and certain feline respiratory viruses cause severe damage to the cells lining the respiratory tract, making the lungs more susceptible to bacterial infection and pneumonia. In older patients with advanced chronic airway disease pneumonia may become a recurrent problem. Aspiration pneumonia may occur when dogs or cats vomit then inhale the vomitus into their lungs. The inhaled stomach contents are highly acidic causing chemical burn to the lung tissue. Secondary bacterial infection may result. The presence of food material further complicates the pneumonia. Severe illness resulting in physical weakness will increase the risk for aspiration pneumonia should vomiting occur. Aspiration pneumonia may occur when animals vomit after surgery, especially if they have not been properly fasted before surgery, because anesthetic drugs depress the swallowing reflex. Recurrent aspiration pneumonia is common in

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Pericardial Effusion (Fluid Around the Heart)

General information The pericardium is a thin membrane that follows the contour of the heart and forms a sac-like structure. Most of the time, the sac is empty and the membrane serves as a lubricated surface inside which the heart can easily move. Pericardial effusion occurs when fluid collects in the sac, which ultimately leads to cardiac tamponade. During cardiac tamponade the fluid puts pressure on the heart to the point that the chambers of the heart cannot expand to fill with blood. If they cannot fill with blood, the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body. The most common causes of pericardial effusion include bleeding from a heart base, a right atrial tumor, or idiopathic (from unknown causes) inflammation. Other less common causes include bleeding disorders, bacterial or viral infections, heart failure, low blood protein levels or other ill-defined causes. Diagnosis An echocardiogram is the best way to diagnose pericardial effusion and will show buildup of fluid in the pericardial sac or indicate that the walls of the heart are moving abnormally (cardiac tamponade). Abnormal heart rhythms may be visible on an electrocardiogram (ECG). Thoracic radiographs of the chest may show a very large, round heart;

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Monitoring Your Pet’s Respiratory Rate

A resting respiratory rate is the number of times your pet takes a complete breath (in and out) within a 60 second period while at rest or sleeping (as opposed to when active, playing or dreaming). Respiratory rates should be monitored in pets with significant heart disease and a risk of developing congestive heart failure (fluid in or around the lungs). This type of monitoring helps to catch the earliest signs of congestive heart failure before the condition develops into an emergency situation potentially requiring hospitalization and oxygen therapy. How to measure your pet’s resting respiratory rate Wait until your pet is sleeping soundly (i.e. not dreaming), and not panting or purring. Count the number of times the chest rises and falls (1 full rise and fall equals 1 breath) over 60 seconds. Do this at least once a day for 7 days, and record your pet’s resting respiratory rate on your calendar. This will help you determine your pet’s average resting respiratory rate. Most dogs and cats have a normal resting respiratory rate with breaths per minute ranging between the mid-teens to mid-20s. In general, a resting respiratory rate over 35-40 breaths per minute is considered abnormal. Specifically, for

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Lung Lobe Tumors

The lungs have a number of functions including transferring oxygen from the air into the blood, transferring carbon dioxide from the blood to the air, metabolizing a number of drugs, and controlling blood pressure. Blood from the entire body is pumped through the lungs many times each hour, which helps to filter out bacteria and cancer cells. If cancer cells actively divide into more and more cells, a tumor will develop in the lungs. This is called a metastatic lung tumor as it is from another part of the body. It is common that this type of tumor originates from one of the internal organs: mammary glands, the skin, connective tissues or bones. These tumors are typically spread throughout the lung fields; therefore, multiple masses are seen in the lungs on X-rays. In contrast, the cells of lung tissue can transform into a cancer and grow into a mass. This type of tumor is called a primary lung tumor. With time, this type of tumor can also spread to other regions of the lung. Signs and diagnosis Some dogs do not have any clinical signs of a lung tumor; however, the tumor can be found on chest X-rays. Warning signs

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Lung Lobe Torsion

Unlike humans, dogs and cats have separate lung lobes, which make them more prone to undergoing torsion (twisting). There are four right lung lobes and three left lung lobes. An artery, vein and air tube (bronchus) enter the base of the lung lobe adjacent to the heart. This is the most common location for the lobe to become torsed. Some lung lobes have well developed ligaments that suspend them within the chest cavity, and this helps to prevent these lobes from being torsed. Once the lung lobe twists at its base, the vein collapses and does not allow blood to leave the lung lobe. Because the artery has much higher blood pressure and has a muscular wall, blood continues to flow into the lung lobe. As a result, the lung becomes congested with blood and the lobe weeps fluid into the chest cavity. As fluid accumulates in the chest, the normal lung lobes collapse, and the patient develops shortness of breath. In addition, the torsed lung lobe dies, which results in the release of toxins into the body. The cause of lung lobe torsion is frequently not known; however, some dogs have an underlying cause such as cancer or chylothorax

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Heart Disease in Cats

There are several types of heart muscle diseases (cardiomyopathies) in cats. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an inherited disorder that manifests as thickening of the left ventricle (one of the lower chambers of the heart), such that the heart muscle has a decreased ability to relax and fill normally with blood. Breeds such as the Maine coon and ragdoll have been found to be predisposed. Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) is characterized by stiffening of the ventricles, with a decreased ability to relax, and often to contract. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is characterized by dilation and weakening of one or both ventricles such that the heart has a decreased ability to contract and pump blood forward to the body. This historically has been associated with taurine-deficient diets and is now rare in cats. Unclassified cardiomyopathy (UCM) is the term used for cats with cardiac abnormalities that do not necessarily fit into one of the above categories. Diagnosis Cats with heart disease may be identified based on physical exam findings, such as heart murmur, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) or gallop rhythm. However, in some cases there are no abnormalities on physical exam. The best way to diagnose heart disease is by referral to a cardiologist

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Bronchitis – Feline Chronic (a.k.a. Feline Asthma)

Feline chronic bronchitis, commonly called feline asthma, is a disease in cats affecting the smaller airways that branch out from the trachea (windpipe). These branches, called bronchi and bronchioles, allow the transport of air into and out of the alveoli, the sites of oxygen exchange. Typically, inflammation within the airways results in excessive secretions that plug the airways. The end result is an impaired ability to bring oxygen into the alveoli for delivery to the rest of the body. Less commonly, the bronchi may close down because of constriction or contraction of the muscles in the walls of these airways (reactive airway disease). Although the term “asthma” is commonly used to describe all forms of airway disease in cats, this term is somewhat misleading. Asthma specifically refers to the reversible constriction of muscle within the walls of the bronchi. Some cats have true asthma, whereas others have bronchitis due to other diseases (bacterial, viral or fungal infection, lung parasites, heartworm disease). Bronchitis is associated with inflammation and swelling of the walls of the bronchi resulting in narrowing of the airways and obstruction or blockage of airways by plugs of mucus or other secretions. Bronchitis can be acute (short duration) and

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Chronic Degenerative Valve Disease (CVD)

Chronic degenerative valve disease (CVD) is a progressive degeneration of the valves in the heart (primarily the mitral valve). This results in the thickening of the valve leaflets and a valvular leak that eventually causes heart enlargement and signs of heart failure. In general, this is seen more frequently in small breed dogs, with up to 75% of small breed dogs showing evidence of CVD by 7 years of age. Certain breeds, such as the Cavalier King Charles spaniel and dachshund are predisposed, and may even present at a younger age. Diagnosis The first sign of CVD is typically a murmur heard by your veterinarian on a routine examination. The murmur is caused by the turbulent blood flow as blood leaks backwards across the affected valve. Once a murmur is heard, thoracic radiographs are taken to evaluate for heart enlargement and evidence of congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs or abdomen). The next step is referral to a cardiologist for an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to confirm diagnosis, evaluate for specific heart chamber enlargement, evaluate heart function and evaluate for other complications or sequelae of CVD. Other diagnostics, such as blood pressure or blood work may be recommended

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Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC)

General information Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), formerly known as boxer cardiomyopathy, runs in families of boxers and has been reported in humans and cats as well. It has been shown to be genetic, so affected animals should not be bred. These animals suffer from ventricular arrhythmias, or abnormal heart beats, which originate from the right ventricle (one of the bottom chambers of the heart). In addition, affected animals may also have enlargement of the right side of the heart, systolic dysfunction (decreased ability to pump blood forward to the body) and congestive heart failure. Often the first sign of this condition is sudden death during exercise or even while sleeping. Diagnosis The diagnosis of ARVC is made by electrocardiography (ECG) and echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart). The initial ECG often documents the presence of the abnormal beats. A Holter monitor (ECG machine worn continuously) helps to evaluate the frequency and severity of the abnormal heart beats over 24 hours at home. An echocardiogram is performed to evaluate heart function and determine if other concurrent heart diseases are present. Genetic testing, while available, is most helpful for breeders looking to screen their breeding population. Complications and sequelae Single abnormal beats

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