Pleural effusions in dogs and cats can be caused by various diseases, but the basic approach to diagnosis and management is similar in all patients. Affected animals can be very fragile, so careful handling and confidence in the emergency management of such cases is vital. This article, the first of two discussing pleural effusions in small animals, describes the diagnostic approach to animals presenting with respiratory distress due to a pleural effusion. Part 2, to be published in the November/December issue of In Practice, will discuss the placement of thoracic drains/thoracostomy tubes and the management of specific types of pleural effusion.
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