Why Is My Dog Breathing Heavily?

The fast rate of breathing in dogs could be due to excitement or exercise. Even dogs tend to breathe heavily whenever feeling stressed, fear or hot.  By the process of panting, dogs tend to normalize their body temperature as they are unable to sweat. Heavy breathing should not be deemed as a disease, but it can be linked to a respiratory problem or some other health issues. 

So, the answer to your question, “Why is my dog breathing heavily?” will be discussed in this article.  Some of the concerned issues are being highlighted in this article for your ease.

Why is my dog breathing heavily

Recognizing Abnormal Breathing

The breathing rate of the dogs depends on their size as well as age. A healthy and adult dog breathes 10 – 30 breaths/minute. However, if your dog is breathing above 35 – 40 breaths/minute while resting, then it should be considered abnormal. 

The breeds with flat-face have narrow nostrils as well as stretched palates. Due to this, they tend to develop breathing problems as compared to other breeds. 

If you are noticing a breathing rate above 35 – 40 breaths/minute right after exercise, or during traveling, then it should be considered normal.

However, if the breathing problem still persists beyond the up-mentioned scenarios, then it is very concerning. Dogs with abnormal breathing show the following symptoms:

  • Sudden start of panting
  • Choking
  • Bluish Tongue and Gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Breathing with snorting or rasping
If you notice these things, it is better to call or visit your vet.
Dog Normal Breathing Rate

Common Causes of Heavy Breathing

The exposure of your dog to the sun in summer or rigorous activities can quickly increase his body temperature. Due to this, he tends to pant so as to regulate his body temperature to the normal. In this way, he prevents himself from overheating.

In trying to maintain the body temperature, you will experience a wide-open mouth, heavy breathing, and maybe even drooling. So, it should be deemed normal in this case.

The other causes of heavy breathing have been already discussed in the introduction.

If you are having the French Bulldog or Pekingese, linked to Brachycephalic breeds, then you might notice heavy breathing in them. It happens due to their short snouts and thus will pant quicker in summer than in winters. 

However, heavy breathing could be a sign of some serious diseases, discussed as below:

1. Dyspnea

Respiratory distress, called Dyspnea, is used to describe the difficulty in breathing as well as shortness of breath. It is a really uncomfortable feeling for your dog. 

This problem is sometimes described as “air hunger”. The dogs suffering from this disease really struggle to breathe but are unable to take enough air into their lungs. 

The difficulty in breathing ranges from mild to serious, and temporary to permanent, if not dealt with properly. The possible causes of dyspnea include heart failure, lung disease, or accumulation of fluids in the lungs.

The symptoms of dyspnea are coughing, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Due to dyspnea, dogs are unable to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream, thus making their life at stake. Therefore, it should be dealt with as an emergency.

2. Tachypnea

Tachypnea is a problem characterized by rapid and shallow breathing

In addition to breathing difficulties and coughing, you may notice other symptoms like vomiting, blue gums, fatigue as well as excessive thirst. 

Although Tachypnea is not a very serious condition, however, it could quickly escalate to Dyspnea which can prove to be life-threatening.

3. Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition that occurs due to slowly developing heart disease with time. 

In this condition, the heart is unable to pump the required amount of blood to the body and hence causing fluid accumulation in the lungs. 

If your dog is resting, then you might experience persistent coughing and breathing difficulty in him. It is all due to congestive heart failure.

In this condition, the stamina of the dog is affected and resultantly he quickly tires out from the exercise.

Other symptoms of Heart failure include loss of appetite, blueish gums, and weight loss. This problem not curable however the treatment is given to manage and control the symptoms.


4. Poisoning

On the intake of poisonous and toxic items, there could be poisoning in your dog. The symptoms included in this case are rapid and heavy breathing, vomiting, dark-colored urine, abdominal pain, and lethargy.

Poisonous materials include garlic and other members of the allium family like an onion. They contain thiosulfate which is toxic and may cause poisoning in your dog. 

In addition to the up-mentioned factors, water intoxication is also the cause of poisoning in your dog. But, it is rare and can only happen in the hot months of the summer.

In summer, due to the high intake of water, the level of sodium in the blood falls drastically. Due to this fall, there might be mild to severe complications to the health of your dog. Due to this, your dog might struggle with breathing and may experience vomiting, excessive drooling, and seizures too. 

Water poisoning develops quickly so it is better to take your dog to the vet and get his blood tested. 

Dog Anemia

5. Anemia

Anemia is the condition in which the count of red blood cells or concentration of hemoglobin in your dog’s body decreases. The concentration of red blood cells in the body of a healthy dog ranges between 35% and 55%. However, if they are below 35%, then it should be considered anemic.

Due to anemia, your dog may suffer from heavy breathing. He could develop pale gums accompanied by weight loss as well as lethargy.

To treat this problem, blood transfusion is done in severe cases to stabilize the dog.

6. Heat Stroke

Heatstroke can occur due to the extreme exposure of your dog to the hot weather. It is said to be a severe case of heat exhaustion. Due to this, your dog may experience loss of consciousness or there might be organ failure. 

You might notice heavy breathing, excessive drooling, fever, bluish gum, or vomiting in the response to laying or exercising your dog in the sun for too long.

In these cases, your dog should be removed from the sun immediately. His body temperature should be normalized by wetting him with cool water.

Dogs Breath Heavily While Sleeping

Dogs do have exciting as well horrifying dreams while sleeping. So, in reaction, their breath rate may increase while encountering these things while sleeping. The sleep of a dog consists of three cycles, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement).

During the REM cycle, due to active dreams, there might be an increase in the breathing rate of your dog. However, this faster breath rate should last only for a few seconds. 

However, if you want to make sure then try to have some stopwatch with you to count the rate of breathing in your dog.

However, if rapid breathing does not stop and occurs more often, then you should visit your vet in no time.

Puppies Breath Heavily

If you are having a puppy as a pet and you are a bit concerned related to his breathing rate then be relaxed. Puppies have generally a faster heart and respiratory rate. This normalizes with the age. However, if it persists, then it is better to take your little friend to the vet.

Remedies for Dog Heavy Breathing Problem

In case of respiratory problems in your dog, it is better to take him to the vet for a complete diagnosis as well as treatment.

However, there are some remedies to be carried out at home so as to tackle the heavy breathing problem. Some of them are given as below:

Dog Temperature Check

1. Temperature Check

You should try to maintain the temperature in your house and especially in those zones of your house where your dog sleeps. The area in the house specified for your dog should have an optimal temperature as per the needs of your dog. This will keep him at ease. 

A hot bedroom can cause distress in your dog causing him to breathe heavily to normalize his body temperature.

2. Cooling Mat

The cooling mat helps your dog in regulating his body temperature. Therefore, it is better to provide your little friend with a cooling mat during the summer months. This way, he won’t have to breathe heavily to prevent overheating.

However, the cooling mat should be durable as well as non-toxic.


3. Humidifier

If your dog is feeling dry internally, it could cause breathing problems as well as coughing. For keeping him properly humid, it is better to get him some humidifier. 

The positioning of the humidifier should be such that it is around your dog most of the time. Non-toxic oils can be added to the humidifier as well. This will soothe your dog and clean the air.


In some cases, heavy breathing in dogs is said to be of no problem, if it normalizes in a few moments. However, if it persists, then you should visit your vet in no time and get him tested. Any kind of negligence may cost you in the form of the loss of your friend.

This summarized article will help you in finding out the reasons for your dog breathing heavily. 


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