2 December, 2021

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Why is My Dog Breathing so Hard

Why is My Dog Breathing so Hard? 

If you’re a dog owner, you know that panting or heavy breathing in dogs is normal. Our furry friends pant when they are excited or right after they exercise. However, deep and heavy breathing when they are simply lying down or sitting could be a sign of something serious. It could be an indication of an illness like heart problem, respiratory problem, or heat stroke.  

When you notice that your dog is having unusual heavy breathing, it is important that you bring them to the vet. They will be able to determine and analyze symptoms so they can give the proper diagnosis. 

Why is my dog breathing so hard? 

If a dog is breathing heavily with no discernible cause, it could be a sign of various medical conditions, including: 

  • Allergies
  • Old age
  • Fluid in their lungs
  • Heatstroke
  • Asthma
  • Heart condition
  • Obesity

The severity of their symptoms depends on the underlying condition that is causing the heavy breathing. 

What should I do if my dog has breathing problems? 

Your best option is to bring the dog to a vet immediately. Unlike humans, dogs cannot tell you exactly what they are feeling, so it is better to let the medical professional examine your canine companion.

However, if you cannot bring your dog to the vet at the onset of the symptoms, you can try these precautions: 

  • Check the airway for foreign objects that they might have swallowed which got stuck in your dog’s throat. 
  • One of the reasons dogs breathe heavily is stress and anxiety. If this is the case, try to calm them down as best you can. Avoid chasing or restraining your pet, as this can cause even more stress. 

How to help a dog breathe better

If the heavy breathing appears to be less than life-threatening, you may try to do the following to help manage the symptoms: 

  • It can become quite hot during the summer months, so you have to make sure that your dog stays inside. Also, turn your air-conditioning unit to make the room cooler.
  • Stop their exercise routine. If the heavy breathing is caused by old age, they will likely encounter some difficulty when exercising.
  • Check for obstruction in the airway and remove it right away. 
  • Even if the issue doesn’t appear to be life-threatening, bring your dog to the vet if it persists.

Dog Respiratory System

Their respiratory system is composed of the nose, mouth, trachea, lungs, and small and large airways. 

When the dog breathes air through the nose or mouth, air passes through the trachea, then to the right and left bronchi of the lungs. Air continues to flow through the bronchioles (smaller airways). The bronchioles end in the alveoli (small sacs), where there is a thin membrane between the blood and the air.  

The main role of the respiratory system is to take in oxygen and then eliminate wastes like carbon dioxide. As briefly mentioned, dogs do not usually sweat through their skin, meaning their respiratory system has an important role in regulating body temperature. Their lungs are extremely susceptible to airborne irritants and viruses. 

What’s the normal breathing in dogs? 

If your dog is healthy and not showing signs of an illness, they typically breathe at a rate of 20-34 breathes per minute. 

Does my dog have breathing problems? 

Don’t be alarmed if your dog is heavily breathing after exercising or running around. They breathe heavily when under a lot of stress. Dogs also breathe hard when they see a perceived danger to themselves or you. 

But take note that continuous heavy breathing could be a sign of more serious conditions, so they must be immediately seen by the vet. 

Recognizing Abnormal Breathing 

Symptoms that might manifest include drooling more than usual, appearing to be choking, or looking like they are in distress. 

Dog Labored Breathing Causes 

Many different factors may cause your dog to have difficulty breathing: 

  • Bacterial, parasitic, or viral infections 
  • Foreign objects blocking the airway 
  • Anemia 
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung cancer 
  • Injuries to the chest wall 
  • Allergies 
  • Cough 
  • Chronic pain
  • Bleeding

Why is my dog breathing fast? 

Dogs may exhibit heavy and shallow breathing to cool themselves. In these scenarios, it is completely normal to pant. However, if the breathing continues to become heavier while their mouth is closed or partially open, it could mean that there is a more serious medical condition.  

Dog breathing fast causes 

When you notice that your dog is breathing heavier than usual, it could indicate tachypnea (clinical abnormal breathing). Possible causes of tachypnea are:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Water in the lungs
  • Heart illness
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Stress
  • Fear

Puppy rapid breathing 

The respiratory and immune systems of puppies are not yet fully developed, so they are constantly at risk of developing respiratory diseases. If you observe your puppy exhibiting symptoms, bring them to the vet. 

My dog has breathing problems, what will happen at the vet?

The vet will perform a physical exam on the dog and look for signs that may indicate respiratory illness. They will also look for possible incidents that may have been the cause of your dog’s breathing difficulties. 

They will listen to the dog’s chest to rule out heart murmurs or the presence of liquid in the lungs. They will also check your dog’s gums for discoloration. 

The vet will ask about your pet’s health, the symptoms you observed, and possible incidents that may have caused breathing difficulties. The vet will also observe your pet’s breathing. They will then determine the best course of action for you and your dog.

Treatment for Breathing Problems 

The first thing most clinics will do is to give your dog oxygen to help it breathe. They will do some tests to confirm the diagnosis. There are cases when the vet may need your dog to stay overnight at the clinic for observation. 

Final Thought 

There is nothing to be alarmed about if you notice your dog is breathing heavily, especially within normal parameters. But the moment your dog seems to be having difficulty breathing, you should bring them to the vet at once. When we look out for our pet’s well-being, they’ll be happy and healthy for years to come!