It can be concerning if your dog is breathing rapidly for no clear reason. In this article, our veterinarians in Jackson will explain why your dog might be breathing heavily and when it's necessary to take them to the vet.
What counts as fast breathing in dogs?
To spot irregular breathing in your dog, it's important to understand what a normal breathing rate is for them. An average healthy pet should take between 15 - 35 breaths per minute when at rest. (Of course, while exercising, your pup will naturally breathe faster).
Anything above 40 breaths per minute while your dog is resting is considered abnormal and worth investigating.
It's worth noting that not all panting is in dogs is a cause for concern. Panting helps your pup regulate their body temperature, cooling them down and allowing moisture and heat to dissipate from the tongue, the mouth, and the upper respiratory tract.
Dogs can't sweat like humans, so they rely on fast breathing to cool down and maintain a normal body temperature.
How do I know if my dog is breathing too fast?
To determine whether your dog is breathing abnormally fast, simply count your dog's respiratory rate while they are sleeping or resting. It can be a good idea to do this when you are not concerned in order to have a clear understanding of your pet's normal respiratory rate. Anything under 30 breaths per minute is considered normal, anything above 35 is a cause for concern.
Why is my dog breathing fast?
Your pet's rapid breathing could be a sign that your dog is suffering from an illness, injury, or other condition that should be evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Dogs breeds with 'squished faces' or shortened snouts, such as Boston terriers, Boxers, and Pugs, are more predisposed to breathing issues and should always be closely monitored by pet parents for any signs of respiratory difficulties.
Some potential causes of fast or heavy breathing in dogs include:
- Breed Characteristics
- Kennel Cough
- Laryngeal Paralysis
- Issues affecting Windpipe
- Bacterial Respiratory Infection
- Fungal Respiratory Infection
- Pressure on the Windpipe
- Stiffening of Airways
- Smoke Inhalation
- Collapsing Windpipe
- Lung Diseases (e.g. cancer)
- Compressed Lungs
- Heat Stroke
- Effects from Medication
When should I be concerned about my dog's rapid breathing?
If your dog is breathing fast while at rest or sleeping, they could exhibit respiratory distress symptoms. Contact your vet if you notice any of the following signs:
- Engaging stomach muscles to help breathe
- Reluctance to drink, eat, or move
- Pale, blue-tinged, or brick-red gums
- Uncharacteristic drooling
- Open-mouthed breathing
- Heavy, fast breathing (sounding different from their normal panting)
How will the vet diagnose the cause of my dog's fast breathing?
Your dog's vet will give your pet a thorough checkup to figure out if there are any problems with their heart, lungs, airway, neck, head, or other areas. An underlying issue may also cause your pet's overall health condition.
Any previous medical issues that your pet has experienced need to be disclosed to your vet, who may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check the heart, lungs, and abdomen for issues like broken ribs or lung tumors.
The vet will also check for signs of stress or anxiety that could be causing your pet to berate quickly.
What are the treatments for fast breathing in dogs?
Your dog's fast breathing can have different causes, and the treatment will depend on what's causing it. Some treatments include pain relief, intravenous fluids with calcium, or other medications are some of the treatment methods available to help remedy your furry friend's problem.
If your pet's rapid breathing is caused by stress or anxiety, special training with a certified dog behaviorist may be required.
Most dogs can get treated at home, but some might need extra care in a hospital. Your vet and their team will help your dog recover and give you advice for taking care of them at home.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.