Pet Symptom Checker

Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Medical name: Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Emergency Warnings



  • Blue mucous or skin
  • Stressful breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath


Normally dogs breathe 10 to 30 times a minute, whereas the average cat takes 10 to 40 breaths. At rest, these should be silent, effortless breaths. The chest and abdomen rise and fall without signs of discomfort or distress and the animal is breathing through its nose. (One open-mouth-breathing exception is normal panting in dogs, which is their way of lowering body temperature. But cats don’t cool off by panting, which in that species can be a sign of cardiopulmonary distress.) A moderate increase in respiratory rate could be an early sign of breathing problems — and merits a same-day call to the veterinarian. Excessive panting or gasping (especially when dogs stand with their elbows outward, or cats crouch with neck and head extended) are emergency signs of respiratory failure. Get help immediately! When a cat or dog takes slow, shallow breaths or none at all, unconsciousness is imminent. Even if you’ve never practiced artificial respiration on an animal, try on the way to the vet.

Zootoo does not provide veterinary medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s medical condition.
If you think your pet may be experiencing a medical emergency, call your veterinarian or an emergency animal care facility immediately.

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