Near Drowning in Cats

Overview of Near Drowning in Cats

Near drowning is non-fatal water inhalation and survival for longer than twenty-four hours. In a near-drowning episode, cessation of breathing results in a loss of oxygen to the brain and a rise in carbon dioxide levels in the blood. It can also cause aspiration of water into the lungs resulting in damage to the lung tissue.

Below is an overview of near drowning in cats followed in-depth detailed information about the diagnosis and treatment options for this condition.

Near drowning can occur in either fresh or salt water. Salt water near drowning occurs in the ocean, and fresh water near drowning can occur in lakes, ponds, swimming pools, toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and water dishes.

Very young, very old and debilitated animals are more likely to drown, as they may be unable to swim, they lose strength more rapidly, or they are unable to get out of the water, as in a pool. Also, young children attempting to bathe a pet in the tub may hold a kitten, puppy, or other small pet under water without understanding the consequences.

Several conditions result from near drowning. These include:

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Near Drowning in Cats

Your veterinarian may want to perform a few diagnostic tests to evaluate your dog’s condition. Some of these include:

Treatment of Near Drowning in Cats

The level of treatment that your pet requires varies depending on the type of water in which your pet was submerged, the length of time your pet was without oxygen, and the degree of lung damage sustained. Treatments may include the following:

Home Care and Prevention

If your dog experiences a near drowning, remove him immediately from the water.

In-depth Information on Near Drowning in Cats

Near-drowning is defined as survival for longer than 24 hours following complete submersion in water. Near-drowning occurs in four stages:

Salt water and fresh water near-drowning vary in how they affect the lungs. Because of it’s high sodium content, salt water draws water from the bloodstream into the airways effectively flooding the airways. Fresh water inactivates a substance called surfactant, which is manufactured by the lungs and functions to keep the lungs from collapsing. Without surfactant, the airways collapse (atelectasis). Therefore, the main feature of salt water drowning is pulmonary edema (fluid in the airways) and the main feature of fresh water drowning is atelectasis (collapse of airways). Fresh water near-drowning carries a better prognosis than salt water near-drowning.

Near-drowning in cold water carries a better prognosis than warm water. Cold water protects the brain from damage due to lack of oxygen by lowering the pet’s body temperature, which subsequently decreases the body’s demand for oxygen. Cold water can also initiate the diving reflex, which causes a decrease in the pet’s heart rate and redirects blood to vital organs such as the brain and heart to delay brain damage.

Laryngospasm, spasm and closure of the airway occurs in approximately 10 percent of near-drowning victims and results in asphyxia, which is a total lack of oxygen. Laryngospasm minimizes damage to the lungs by preventing water from entering the airways. However, unless the laryngospasm is relieved, your pet will die from lack of oxygen.

Aspiration of water into the lungs causes the lungs to lose their elasticity and become stiff, which makes it more difficult to breathe. Pulmonary edema, an accumulation of water in the lungs, occurs if your pet directly aspirates the water into the lungs. However, it can also result from struggling to breathe against a closed airway as in laryngospasm or secondary to hypoxic (no oxygen) brain damage and is termed neurogenic pulmonary edema.

Cerebral edema, swelling of the brain, can occur secondary to loss of oxygen. If cerebral edema is severe, the pet may experience seizures, loss of consciousness, coma and death. Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, may occur as a result of near-drowning and shock.

In-depth Information on the Diagnosis of Near Drowning in Cats

While the diagnosis of near drowning is based on an observation of the event, certain diagnostic tests are necessary to evaluate the extent of lung or brain damage or to monitor the condition of a severely affected pet. If your pet appears normal after submersion, 24-hour hospitalization for observation may be all that is required. However, the following tests are necessary for those pets whose condition is more serious.

In-depth Information on the Treatment of Near Drowning in Cats

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