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Heavy Breathing In Dogs

Heavy Breathing In Dogs

You may be concerned If your dog is breathing fast and heavy for no apparent reason. In this article, our Poway emergency vets share some of the reasons why your dog may be breathing hard and when it's time to see the vet for your heavy-breathing dog. 

Why Is My Dog Breathing Heavy?

Heavy breathing is dogs can be confused with normal panting so you should be able to distinguish regular breathing from abnormal breathing. A regular healthy pet should take between 15 to 35 breaths per minute when resting. (Of course, while exercising, your pooch will naturally breathe faster).

Anything above 40 breaths per minute while your dog is at rest, is considered abnormal breathing and is worth investigating.

That said, pet owners need to keep in mind that not all panting is bad. Panting helps your pup to regulate their body temperature, cooling them down and allowing water and heat to evaporate from the tongue, the mouth, and upper respiratory tract.

Unlike people, your pup doesn't sweat to cool down, instead, they need to breathe fast to allow air to circulate efficiently through the body. Rapid breathing allows a dog’s body to get back to a normal temperature.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Breathing Too Fast?

Sometimes people can't tell when they are seeing a dog heavy breathing. 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, 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?

If you have a dog breathing heavy and fast, it's important to figure out if the cause. Heavy breathing in dogs can be an indication that your pup is suffering from an illness or injury 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 prone to breathing issues and should always be closely monitored by pet parents for any signs of breathing difficulties.

Some potential causes of fast or heavy breathing in dogs include:

  • Laryngeal Paralysis
  • Windpipe Issues
  • Bacterial Respiratory Infection
  • Fungal Respiratory Infection
  • Pressure on the Windpipe
  • Asthma
  • Breed Characteristics
  • Kennel Cough
  • Stiffening of Airways
  • Smoke Inhalation
  • Collapsing Windpipe
  • Compressed Lungs
  • Hernia
  • Heat Stroke
  • Anemia
  • Lung Diseases such as cancer
  • Parasites
  • Pneumonia
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Medication
  • Exercise

When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog's Rapid Breathing? 

If your dog is breathing fast at rest or breathing fast while sleeping, it could be experiencing respiratory distress. Contact our Poway vets in case of an emergency or if  you notice any of the following signs:

  • Engaging stomach muscles to help with breathing
  • Reluctance to drink, eat or move
  • Pale, blue-tinged, or brick red gums
  • Uncharacteristic drooling
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Heavy, fast breathing that’s louder or different sounding than normal panting

How Will The Vet Diagnose The Cause Of My Dog's Fast Breathing?

To identify the root cause of your pup's fast breathing, the veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination. The examination will assess whether the issue is related to the heart, circulatory system, airway, lungs, neck, head, or any other area. Additionally, the pet's overall health condition may be considered as a potential contributor to the problem.

It is essential to inform the veterinarian of any previous medical issues that your pet has experienced. The vet may recommend diagnostic tests like X-rays to assess the heart, lungs, and abdomen for potential problems such as lung tumors or broken ribs.

The veterinarian will also keep a lookout for any indications of anxiety, stress, or other psychological factors that may cause rapid breathing.

What Are The Treatments For Fast Breathing In Dogs?

The treatment for your furry friend's rapid breathing is dependent on the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may recommend pain relief, calcium-enriched intravenous fluids, or other medications.

If stress or anxiety is the cause of your pet's fast breathing, the veterinarian may suggest special training with a certified dog behaviorist.

In any case, rest and oxygen therapy are likely to be part of the treatment regimen to address your pet's breathing difficulties.

Although most dogs can be treated at home, severe cases may require hospitalization to monitor the dog's breathing and manage the root cause of the issue.

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.

Are you concerned about your pup's breathing? If your dog is breathing fast, contact our Poway emergency vets right away to book an examination for your dog. Our compassionate team is here to help your dog feel better.

Experienced Emergency Vet Care in Poway

Animal Emergency Clinic of San Diego is a family-run after-hours and critical care hospital, providing veterinary emergency care since 1985. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact us to get the help your pet needs.

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