I'm sure you've heard of circumstances where humans get fluid in their chest. While you might not know exactly what that entails, pets can have similar medical conditions and last week, the PPAC treated one. Now just a warning, this post gets SUPER medically technical. In fact, Dr. S. had to make numerous rounds of corrections to be sure this lil kitty accurately captured the storyline. So, proceed at your own risk!
In walks an owner with their nine year old, male, neutered cat who is breathing rapidly. Not quite panting but you could see his little kitty chest rising and falling pretty quickly. Dr. S. took a look-see at his tongue and it was blue (he was having trouble breathing). On top of that, when he put a stethoscope up to his chest, his heartbeat sounded muffled. So he took an X-ray and saw that the cat had a chest full of fluid. Dr. S. drained his chest and took a follow up X-ray only to see that he had an enlarged heart and congested blood vessels—his failing heart had created fluid backup. The doc prescribed meds and sent him to a cardiologist (a specialist) just to confirm his diagnosis. That kitty is on the mend.
However, while the end result is the same, fluid in an animal's chest can be the result of a number of different circumstances. In fact, the week before this fluid filled kitty came in, another unfortunate pet was brought in exhibiting similar symptoms. This poor lil guy however was in this situation as a result of a rupture of his lymphatic duct. Basically, this means that the lymphatic vessels (that carry lymphatic fluid called chyle) had ruptured resulting in a leakage. This type of situation is dealt with through a surgical procedure where the fluid is drained and the thoracic duct is tied off, making sure the fluid stops leaking.
The third and final cause of chest fluid we'll be talking about today, is when there are tumors in an animal's chest which could be responsible for more fluid accumulation. In these situations, a blood test would be administered, the fluid spun down (in a centrifuge!) and slides made from the cells at the bottom of the fluid filled tube. Then, the slides would be read to make a diagnosis. If cancer was the culprit, the kitty would then be set to an oncologist, or cancer specialist to recommended a course of chemotherapy to get rid of the cancerous cells.
I know these all sound pretty scary but as you can see, they can be treated if the problem's identified early enough. So as always, I can't stress enough the importance of bringing your pet by if anything looks out of the ordinary and just for regular checkups. And thanks for sticking with me on this one.
Til' next time,