My cat was diagnosed with asthma. Where can I buy an affordable pulse oximeter? Can you use a human pulse oximeter on a cat?

Original Question: My cat was diagnosed with asthma. Where can I buy an affordable pulse oximeter from a reputable place to monitor her better? Will a human pulse oximeter work? - Jody

My cat was diagnosed with asthma. Where can I buy an affordable pulse oximeter? Can you use a human pulse oximeter on a cat? Oct 7, 2018

Hi Jody,

Thanks for submitting your question.

I’ll start off by saying I am really impressed. I commend you on your level of dedication to monitoring this condition in your cat. I have never considered recommending that an owner monitor pulse oximetry in an asthmatic patient. For anyone reading this who doesn’t know what this test is for, it reads the ‘oxygen saturation’ of the blood. Basically, it tells you how well oxygenated the blood is. In a disease process such as asthma, the oxygen delivery to the lungs and on to the bloodstream can be compromised. By monitoring the oxygenation of the blood, it can indicate how effectively the lungs are receiving oxygen and therefore telling you how well you are managing the asthmatic condition.

Veterinary pulse oximeter machines are common because it is a requirement of a hospital’s accreditation that they have one for monitoring surgical procedures. I would recommend that you go on to websites of veterinary associations. These groups usually have classifieds where veterinarians can buy and sell equipment for their hospital. An example here in Ontario would be the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. A human pulse oximeter is unlikely to work as most of those are applied to the finger whereas with pets it’s applied to the ear. There is a significant difference in the design of the contact point where it is applied to the patient. I doubt a cat’s ear would be able to conform to the human device well enough to get a reading.

Hopefully this helps. Thank you for sharing this.

Dr Clayton Greenway

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