Excessive panting in dogs

If your dog is panting, or breathing, very fast for no apparent reason, pup parents are bound to be a bit concerned. Here, our Apple Valley vets share some of the reasons your dog may be breathing hard without obvious cause and when it's time to take them in to see your vet. 

Why is my dog breathing fast?

In order to be able to spot your dog's abnormal breathing, we will need to understand what a healthy rate of breathing is for your pup. An average and healthy dog will generally take between 15 and 35 breaths per minute if they are resting. While exercising, your pup will breathe quite a bit faster than that.

Anything more than 40 breaths per minute while your dog is resting is faster than normal and may warrant investigation. 

All of that being said, it is important for dog owners to keep in mind that not all panting is bad for your dog. Panting is your pup's way of regualting their body temperature, cooling them down while allowing atwer and heat to evaporate from their body through their tongue, their mouth and their 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?

The figure out whether or not your dog is breathing abnormally fast, just count your dog's respiratory rate while they are resting or sleeping. It can be a good call to do so when you aren't concerned about your dog, in order to gain a betteer understanding of what your p[et's normal breathing rate is. Anything below 30 breaths per minute ius considered normal, while anything abovce that may be a cause for concern.

Why is my dog breathing fast?

Your pet's rapid breathing may also be an indicator that your pup is suffering from an injury or an illness affecting their respiratory system or another part of their body. If this is the case, you should bring your dog into your vet as soon as you can.

Breeds of dog with flat faces, sqiushed snouts or shorter snouts like pugs, boxers and Bsoton terriers can all be more prone to breathing issues than dogs with longer snouts. They should be monitored closley by their owners for signs of issues and breathign difficulties. 

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

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

When should I be concerned about my dog's rapid breathing? 

If your dog is breathing faster than normal while they sleep, it may be experiencing respiratory distress. Contact your vet if you notice any of the following signs in your dog:

  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Engaging stomach muscles to help breathe
  • Pale, blue-tinged or brick red gums
  • Reluctance to drink, eat or move
  • Uncharacteristic drooling
  • 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?

Your vet will be able to perform a comprehensive examination on your pup to determine what the issues they are experiencing may be. Your pet's heart, lungs, airway, neck or orther internal organs may be causing their distress. Your pet's overall condition may also be causing the health issue.

Your vet needs to know about any previous medical issues that your pet has experienced and may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check the heart, lungs and abdomen for issues such as broken ribs or lung tumors. 

Your vet will also check for signs of anxiety, stress or other psychological factors which may be influencing your pup's breathing. 

What are the treatments for fast breathing in dogs?

Treatment for abnormally fast breathing in dogs will be determined by their underlying cause. Your vet may prescribe pain relief, intravenous fluids or othe medicatiosn ot help combat the underlyting cause of your pet's breathing issues. 

If your pet's rapid breathing is caused by stress or anxiety, special training with a certified dog behaviorist may be required.

Rest and oxygen therapy may be required for your pet, regardless of the underlying cause. 

While most dogs will be well enough to be treated at home, in some serious cases hospitalization may be required to monitor the dog's breathing, and to treat the underlying cause. 

Are you worried about your dog rapidly breathing without any obvious cause? If your dog is breathing quickly and you are getting worried, contact Bear Valley Animal Hospital as soon as possible. Our team of veterinarians are well-versed in assessing and diagnosing dogs with breathing issues.