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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16476
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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My 14. Year old female chihuahua has labored breathing and

Customer Question

My 14. Year old female chihuahua has labored breathing and Ian' t eating very much. What could be wrong with her?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Rosie has deep, labored breathing and isn't eating well today.
A normal dog has a resting respiratory rate of about 10 to 15 breaths per minute, and one breath is considered the in and out motion of his chest. If she has a rate faster then 40 breaths per minute then she is in trouble. If you can notice that she is breathing abnormally then I am concerned for her.
Dogs that are experiencing labored breathing aren't exchanging oxygen, and that alone will greatly decrease their appetite.
If she doesn't have a nasal discharge and isn't sneezing then her difficulty breathing is likely related to a problem in her chest rather then her nose, or is secondary to anemia (decreased numbers of red blood cells).
Problems in her chest leading to an increased respiratory include primary heart disease (including heart valve disease and heartworm), lung disease including bacterial, viral, parasitic (lungworm) or fungal infections, a mass(es) in the chest including lymphoma, heart based tumors or carcinomas, or fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion) due to a mass, bleeding, chylothorax or an infection.
Anemia can be secondary to poor red blood cell production, either due to kidney disease as the kidneys make a hormone to stimulate production or primary bone marrow disease, or anemia can be due to bleeding or destruction of red cells due to a tumor, blood parasite or autoimmune disease (body attacks its own red blood cells and destroys them).
If your girl's tongue and gum color are a nice bubblegum pink them she is in better shape then if her gum and tongue color is blue or gray, these would signify she is real trouble and this is a true emergency.
In a dog her age and breed primary heart disease, usually related to a poorly functioning heart valve and secondary heart failure, is the most likely cause.
The conditions I listed above are serious and I would highly recommend that your girl see a veterinarian promptly to have an examination and further testing done based upon her examination. Rosie likely needs radiographs of her chest to evaluate her heart and lungs to start and then further diagnostics based upon those findings. That may include testing for heartworm and lungworms, aspirating fluid for examination if there is fluid present around her lungs, or blood titers for fungal infections.
In the meantime keep her quiet so she can breathe as easily as possible.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about Rosie. How is everything going?

Dr. Kara