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Chylothorax in Cats

By: Dr. Theresa Welch Fossum

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Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve.

  • Administer all prescribed medication as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your cat.

  • The frequency and nature of follow-up evaluations of your pet will be largely determined by the nature of any underlying diseases found and by the type of treatment chosen. If your cat has idiopathic chylothorax and medical management is chosen, your veterinarian may request that you return for periodic evaluations or may simply suggest that you return when you believe that your pet is having increased difficulty breathing.

  • If you notice that your pet is having difficulty breathing, do not wait until your next scheduled visit to see your veterinarian. Take your pet in immediately. Chylothorax can be life-threatening because the fluid can accumulate to such a point that the lungs cannot expand. When this happens, your pet will not be able to get enough oxygen to survive. Discuss with your veterinarian how to tell if your pet is in distress so that you will be better able to judge when you need to have your pet evaluated.

  • If surgery is performed, you will be asked to return for periodic evaluations. These evaluations will often include taking thoracic radiographs to determine whether the chylothorax has resolved.

  • When fluid is present, your veterinarian will periodically analyze it to determine its character as to whether it is chylous or not.

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