Why Is My Dog Breathing So Fast?

Constipation is one of the most common digestive issues our Davidson County vets see in dogs, and it can be a sign of a life-threatening health issue. Here’s why

Should I be worried if my dog is breathing fast?

If you notice that your dog is breathing fast while at rest, or breathing fast while sleeping, they could be experiencing respiratory distress. Contact your vet if you notice any of the following signs: Noticeably labored breathing (engaging stomach muscles to help breathe) Pale, blue-tinged or brick red gums.

Why is my dog breathing fast?

Because dogs cannot sweat like their humans, they need to breathe fast to allow air to circulate efficiently through the body. Fast breathing allows a dog’s body to get back to a normal temperature.

Why is my dog breathing so fast while sleeping?

Your dog is a dreamer. And, when they’ve entered the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase of sleep, it’s completely normal for them to start breathing faster. This might also be accompanied by twitching of the muscles or eyelids, and even soft little whimpers or barks.

What are the signs of respiratory distress in a dog?

Coughing..Difficulty breathing..Gagging after coughing..Nasal congestion..Exercise intolerance..Fainting..Wheezing..Blue gums.

Why is my dog breathing fast? is a fairly common question from dog parents. Sometimes rapid breathing can be normal, but other times it may signal a problem. Integrative veterinarian, Dr. Julie Buzby, puts your mind at ease by explaining how to tell if your dogs breathing is normal and discussing 10 conditions that may cause your dog to breathe fast.

Laryngeal paralysis, commonly seen in Labrador Retrievers, can cause heavy, raspy breathing and voice changes. Your dogs larynx is also called a voice box because of its box-like shape and role in making sounds.

Small muscles cause the laryngeal flaps to cover the tracheal opening when your dog eats and drinks. They also pull the laryngeal flaps out of the way while the dog breathes to allow maximal airflow into the trachea. Neck trauma and other underlying health issues can cause laryngeal paralysis in dogs .

Researchers believe it may be one component of condition called geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy (GOLPP). The trachea is the large tube-shaped structure that runs down the neck and into the chest before splitting into the main bronchi (i.e. airways) that lead into the lungs. The other 20% is a soft-tissue structure called the dorsal tracheal membrane that spans the space between the edges of the rings.

This leads to frequent coughing (sounds like a goose honking), rapid breathing, and sometimes respiratory distress. Many bacterial, viral, and fungal agents can infect the respiratory tract (nose, trachea, airways, and lung tissue). Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is a well-known airway and trachea infection that may be caused by a multitude of bacteria or viruses.

Alternatively, a dog may develop aspiration pneumonia if he or she breathes in a bit of food, fluid, or vomit. The cause for some of these lower airway diseases is unknown, but factors like obesity, infections, and environmental irritants can worsen the intensity of symptoms. Sometimes even mild physical activity can cause breathing difficulties, and severely affected dogs may collapse due to lack of oxygen.

Also take note of if the respiratory problems seem to be linked to exposure to anything in the environment (i.e. cigarette smoke, air fresheners, candles, pollen, etc). In order to help regulate their body temperature, humans sweat through special glands in their skin when they get hot. This is not enough to help them cool off completely, so they rely on panting as a primary mechanism for dissipating heat.

Heavy panting or difficulty breathing Collapse Disorientation and/or seizures or tremors Vomiting and/or diarrhea Change in gum colormay be bluish purple, grey, or bright red Brachycephalic breeds (i.e. those with short noses) because they often have small nasal passages, a narrowed airway due to an elongated soft palate, tiny nostrils, and a skinny trachea, all of which make breathing and getting rid of heat quite difficult. Dogs with medical conditions such as heart disease, laryngeal paralysis, or collapsed trachea.

Pressure from the heart is part of what drives oxygen-depleted cells back toward the lungs in order to restock with the oxygen that a dog needs to survive. When the heart isnt distributing enough oxygen around the body, your dog will begin to breathe faster to try to compensate. As fluid pools in the lungs or abdomen due to congestive heart failure, breathing becomes even more difficult.

Increased respiratory rate, along with a cough and exercise intolerance could lead to a diagnosis of heart disease. But it can often be managed for a period of time with different medications to continue to allow your dog to have a good quality of life. His doting dad mentioned that he had been panting more often during the day and was acting a bit off. He had pristine senior bloodwork and his heart and lungs sounded great.

When his dad called with an update, he was thrilled to report that his pup was panting less and seemed like a new dog! Cancer elsewhere in the body can metastasize (i.e. spread) to the lungs, which can also cause a dog to breathe more rapidly. Pulmonary edema interferes with the dogs ability to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, and pleural effusion prevents the lungs from fully expanding.

Thus, if a dog is anemic (i.e. has low red blood cell numbers) less oxygen can get to the tissues. In addition to panting excessively or breathing fast, anxious dogs may also yawn when not tired, cower and tremble, or become destructive or aggressive. Also, consider taking a quick video of how your dog is breathing in case anything changes by the time you get to the vet.

If your dog is breathing fast, you’ll understandably be concerned. Our Raritan, Somerset county vets explain what’s considered fast breathing in dogs, describe symptoms and potential causes, and share tips on when to call a vet.

Because dogs cannot sweat like their humans, they need to breathe fast to allow air to circulate efficiently through the body. Fast breathing allows a dogs body to get back to a normal temperature.

Fast breathing in dogs may indicate a number of conditions, injuries or illnesses and should be evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible. Asthma Breed characteristics (squish-faced breeds may be more prone to breathing problems) Kennel Cough Laryngeal Paralysis Trachea (windpipe) issues Rhinitis (bacterial or fungal infection in the nasal chambers) Pressure on the windpipe Stiffening of airways Smoke inhalation Collapsing trachea Regardless of whats causing the issue, these are all signs that your furry friend should see a vet immediately, as this would be classified as a veterinary medical emergency .

The vet will perform a full physical examination to determine whether the problem is located in the heart, circulatory system, lungs, airway, neck, head, or other area. You will also be asked questions about your dog and any previous history of medical issues. Your vet may prescribe pain relief, intravenous fluids with calcium, or medication.

For stress or anxiety, special training with a certified dog behaviorist may be required. While most dogs will be allowed to be treated at home, some may need to be constantly monitored. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is breathing fast and shallow this may not necessarily be an indication of illness or disease. This is known as tachypnea. And is a normal way for your dog to keep cool by panting with his tongue hanging out. But there are other times when your dog breathing fast could be quite serious.

Your dog breathing fast could be due to pneumonia, a tumour on the lung, or laryngeal paralysis. A heart that doesnt function properly will increase your dogs rate of respiration to compensate for the lack of oxygen.

Chronic pain can also result in swelling, loss of appetite, excessive grooming, and mobility issues. Symptoms of respiratory issues include clear discomfort shown as your dog is breathing fast. Other heart disease symptoms include coughing, reduced appetite, swollen abdomen and tiring quickly.

You can begin to treat heatstroke at home by taking the dog out of the heat and providing plenty of fresh water.

What is “normal” breathing for a dog?

Being a hound, Jake likes to spend some of his day lounging around the house. At rest, he should be breathing easily through his nose with his mouth closed. If I were to count how many times he breathes (inhales and exhales) in minute, it would probably be around 10 to 35 times. (For more details on how to measure your dog’s respiratory rate, check out my blog Keeping a “Pulse” on Your Dog’s Vital Signs).Sometimes during REM sleep, he will be breathing fast while sleeping. He may also whimper, twitch, or growl as he dreams. As long as I can wake him up and he acts (and breathes) normally once he is awake. this isn’t a cause for concern. These actions are probably just a dream, not something more scary like a seizure in dogs.If he goes outside and romps with my kids in warm weather, he may start panting with an open mouth and his tongue sticking out. This is a normal way for dogs to cool down since they don’t have as many sweat glands as people do. As long as he isn’t panting extremely hard, is still acting normal, and stops panting once he cools down inside, I’m not too worried.

2. Tracheal collapse

Your dog’s larynx is also called a “voice box” because of its box-like shape and role in making sounds. It is located in the back of the throat at the top of the trachea. Small muscles cause the laryngeal flaps to cover the tracheal opening when your dog eats and drinks. They also pull the laryngeal flaps out of the way while the dog breathes to allow maximal airflow into the trachea.If there is a problem with the nerves that control the laryngeal muscles, the laryngeal flap(s) don’t move and can partially obstruct the entrance to the trachea. This creates resistance as air moves past the defective flap(s) and means less air gets to the lungs.Neck trauma and other underlying health issues can cause laryngeal paralysis in dogs . However, in senior dogs, the cause is often unknown. Researchers believe it may be one component of condition called geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy (GOLPP). Dogs who have GOLPP may also suffer from generalized muscle weakness and esophageal dysfunction. Laryngeal paralysis seems to be more common in some breeds such as German Shepherd dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers but can occur in any dog.Signs of laryngeal paralysis include:In severe cases, laryngeal paralysis can cause acute respiratory distress. If you see that your dog is having breathing difficulties or his gums appear blue in color, contact your nearest veterinarian immediately. Some dogs with laryngeal paralysis benefit from tie back surgery for dogs and/or medical and environmental management (more on that in my blog Canine Laryngeal Paralysis: A Veterinarian Answers Your Questions).

3. Respiratory infections and pneumonia

Many bacterial, viral, and fungal agents can infect the respiratory tract (nose, trachea, airways, and lung tissue). Some infections remain contained to the trachea or larger airways where they cause inflammation of those structures. Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is a well-known airway and trachea infection that may be caused by a multitude of bacteria or viruses. Dogs with an uncomplicated case of kennel cough may only have a harsh cough but still breathe normally.However, sometimes the agents causing kennel cough (or other infectious agents) can spread deep into the lung tissue, causing pneumonia. Alternatively, a dog may develop aspiration pneumonia if he or she breathes in a bit of food, fluid, or vomit. This can happen to any dog but is more common in dogs with laryngeal paralysis because their airway is unprotected due the the malfunctioning laryngeal flaps.Pneumonia is problematic because the alveoli (i.e. airsacs) in the lungs become filled with fluid and debris from the infection. Now the alveoli can’t do their job of exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen as effectively. This may lead to low oxygen in the blood and fast or difficult breathing. Fever and a lethargic dog are two other common pneumonia symptoms.

4. Lower airway disease

There are any number of diseases that can affect the lower respiratory tract such as bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchioles or small airways) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a type of progressive and chronic bronchitis. The cause for some of these lower airway diseases is unknown, but factors like obesity, infections, and environmental irritants can worsen the intensity of symptoms.Ongoing inflammation causes narrowing of the lower airways. This makes it more difficult for oxygen to get to the lungs and for carbon dioxide to leave the lungs. As a result, dogs with lower airway disease may cough frequently. They may show fast, heavy breathing and they may pant more often. Sometimes even mild physical activity can cause breathing difficulties, and severely affected dogs may collapse due to lack of oxygen.If your dog is coughing or breathing fast, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Also take note of if the respiratory problems seem to be linked to exposure to anything in the environment (i.e. cigarette smoke, air fresheners, candles, pollen, etc).

Use caution in the heat

In order to help regulate their body temperature, humans sweat through special glands in their skin when they get hot. As the sweat evaporates, it helps to cool them down. However, dogs only have sweat glands in their paws. This is not enough to help them cool off completely, so they rely on panting as a primary mechanism for dissipating heat.Sometimes there are instances where a dog’s body cannot cool down fast enough. If a dog is stuck inside a car (even if the windows are cracked) on a hot day, panting is not enough to lower a rapidly rising body temperature as the temperature inside the car climbs. (To learn more, head over to the AVMA website to read their article about the dangers of pets in vehicles.) Or if a dog is exercising on a warm day, he or she can easily overheat. Many dogs will keep on playing even when they are extremely hot, so you can’t rely on them to know when to stop.By the time the body’s temperature goes beyond 106 degrees Fahrenheit, the internal organs can start to shut down. This condition is called heat stroke in dogs, and it is a life-threatening medical emergency. Some of the tell-tale signs of heat stroke are:If you notice any of these signs, immediately head to the veterinary clinic ASAP with the A/C blasting. You can quickly hose your dog down with cool water before jumping in the car but do not submerge your dog in water or use an ice bath as both could be dangerous.

7. Pain

The heart is one of the most important organs in your dog’s body because it pumps oxygen-rich red blood cells throughout the body. Pressure from the heart is part of what drives oxygen-depleted cells back toward the lungs in order to restock with the oxygen that a dog needs to survive. Anything that disrupts the heart’s function can be dangerous to your dog.Heart disease in dogs can be defined as anything from electrical disturbances (e.g., arrhythmias) to disorders that affect the size and strength of the heart’s chambers (i.e. valvular disease, dilated cardiomyopathy or heartworm disease in dogs). The end result is a heart that is not functioning correctly. When the heart isn’t distributing enough oxygen around the body, your dog will begin to breathe faster to try to compensate. As fluid pools in the lungs or abdomen due to congestive heart failure, breathing becomes even more difficult.Some other common symptoms of heart disease include:If you notice any of these signs, contact your vet immediately. Heart disease isn’t curable. But it can often be managed for a period of time with different medications to continue to allow your dog to have a good quality of life.

8. Cancer

Cancer in dogs can affect your dog’s breathing in a few different ways. If your dog has lung cancer in one of the lung lobes, inflammation and pressure from the tumor can cause coughing and trouble breathing. Cancer elsewhere in the body can metastasize (i.e. spread) to the lungs, which can also cause a dog to breathe more rapidly.Additionally, certain cancers can cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs (i.e. pulmonary edema) or around the lungs (i.e. pleural effusion). Pulmonary edema interferes with the dog’s ability to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, and pleural effusion prevents the lungs from fully expanding. Both of these conditions can lead to an increased respiratory rate or changes in respiratory effort.

10. Anxiety

Oxygen, which is vital for survival, is carried to the tissues on red blood cells. Thus, if a dog is anemic (i.e. has low red blood cell numbers) less oxygen can get to the tissues. When this happens, the dog may start breathing faster to try to compensate. Pale gums, lethargy, and weakness are other signs of anemia.A variety of conditions can cause anemia including:Anemia can be life-threatening. If you suspect your dog could be anemic, bring your dog to the veterinarian immediately for testing and treatment.

Talk to your vet

As you have probably gathered from this list, there are a variety of reasons a dog might be breathing fast and many of them can be quite serious or even life-threatening. If you are unsure if your dog is breathing normally, try to count his or her breathing rate (remembering that 10-35 breaths per minute is considered normal and anything over 40 breaths per minute is definitely a cause for concern). Also, consider taking a quick video of how your dog is breathing in case anything changes by the time you get to the vet.Most importantly, seek veterinary care promptly if you have any concerns about how your dog is breathing. You know your dog, so trust your instincts. I know it isn’t easy to be intently staring at your dog and trying to decide if you should call the vet or wait and see what happens. When in doubt, make the call. Maybe you will get the good news that your dog is fine. Or maybe your attention to detail will help your vet catch one of these conditions before it becomes more serious. Watching your dog’s breathing may even save his or her life!

Why is my dog breathing fast?

First, we should know what a healthy respiratory (breathing) rate for a dog is. They’d usually take between 10 to 35 breaths per minute when resting. When exercising, your pooch will breathe faster – perhaps by as much as 10 times, which means they’ll breathe in 100 to 350 times each minute.Not all panting is bad, as it helps regulate your dog’s body temperature, cools him down and allows water and heat to evaporate from the tongue, the mouth and upper respiratory tract.Because dogs cannot sweat like their humans, they need to breathe fast to allow air to circulate efficiently through the body. Fast breathing allows a dog’s body to get back to a normal temperature.