My Dog Is Breathing Heavy - What Should I do?

My Dog Is Breathing Heavy - What Should I do?

Author WDF Staff


Heavy breathing in dogs is not an unusual thing you can notice, but you must understand when heavy breathing is justified and when to start worrying. As you may already know, dogs will use panting to cool themselves down after an exhausting exercise and when it's too hot. You should be concerned if your dog starts to breathe heavily out of the blue. You must understand what is considered normal breathing and what is not to help your dog in an emergency.

What is heavy breathing in dogs?

Heavy breathing in dogs is a condition that will cause your dog to struggle with taking breaths. This is normal if your dog has been playing or trying to cool down during hot weather. To your knowledge, healthy dogs should have 10-35 breaths per minute, while the average healthy dog will take 24 breaths.

You must know this information in case you notice that your dog has started to breathe heavily.

When exercising, your dog's breathing rate could go up to 400 breaths per minute, and it's nothing strange. You should only be concerned if your dog starts to breathe heavily while resting.

WORLD DOG FINDER TIP: Monitor your dog's breath per minute while he's sleeping so you will get the right number to compare it if your dog seems to start breathing heavily

What are the causes?

Heavy breathing in dogs can indicate some underlying health problems for your dog. If you notice heavy breathing in your dog, you should contact your vet since this could result from many different conditions, and your vet will have to find the main reason to set the proper treatment.

Health conditions that can cause heavy breathing in dogs to include:

  • Anemia
  • Heatstroke
  • Asthma
  • Different medications
  • Kennel cough
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Heart failure
  • Poisoning

tired dog

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Usually, heavy breathing will happen by itself, but sometimes it can be followed by some symptoms you need to watch out for, including.

  • Pale gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Refusal of drinking
  • Refusal of moving

These symptoms can only confirm that your dog has some medical condition causing heavy breathing. You should seek vet help immediately.

When to be a concern?

Heavy breathing in dogs is normal in some situations, such as after exercising and when they need to cool themselves down. In this case, this shouldn't concern you.

However, if your dog starts to breathe heavily in other situations, you will have to talk to your vet.

Here are some situations when you should be concerned about your dog breathing heavy

1. While your dog is at rest

In most cases, owners will notice heavy breathing while their dogs rest and then be concerned that something is bothering them. For sure, there is some health condition that is causing heavy breathing, and your vet will examine your dog to find out the main reason why this is happening.

dog breathing heavily

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2. While your dog is sleeping

If you notice your dog breathing heavily while sleeping, this should indicate that something is bothering your dog, and you should contact your vet and ask for advice.

3. Your dog has pale and blue gums

If you notice pale and blue gums on your dog while breathing heavily, take note that this is an extremely dangerous situation because your dog is not getting enough oxygen, and you should rush to the clinic as fast as possible,

4. If heavy breathing happens while your dog has a closed mouth

Normal panting will occur while your dog has an open mouth. If your dog's mouth is closed or only partially opened, something else is bothering him, and you should seek vet help.

5. If heavy breathing is followed by coughing

Heavy breathing followed by coughing can indicate respiratory problems with your dog, such as chronic bronchitis. Seek vet help immediately.

dog panting

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6. If your dog seems to be in pain

Pain can also indicate that some other medical problem is bothering your dog. The best thing you can do is to contact your vet and schedule a meeting.

All these situations will indicate that something is bothering your dog, and until you and your vet don't figure it out, your dog will not be alright. You must notice this in the beginning since your dog will have a higher chance of recovery.

What is a treatment?

Every dog is different, and every health problem requires different treatment. That said, the proper treatment can only be set after your vet has set the correct diagnosis for your dog. Depending on the cause, your vet could prescribe your dog medications, pain relief, or IV fluids.

Although it is not that common, some dogs can start breathing heavily because of stress and anxiety. To solve this problem, you must understand what is causing stress for your dog to help him.

tired dog

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Heavy breathing in puppies

Puppies will have higher breaths per minute than adult dogs. This is mainly because they will breathe more rapidly during their sleep. The normal rate for puppies is everything between 15-40 bpm. Suppose you notice that your puppy started to breathe heavily without any apparent reason. In that case, you should immediately contact your vet since puppies are at greater risk of developing diseases and infections than adult dogs.

World Dog Finder team

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