What to Do If Your Dog is Breathing Fast

Open mouth of a dog breathing and sticking its tongue out.

There are several reasons why dogs pant and breathe rapidly. However, not all panting is abnormal. It wouldn't be too concerning to watch your dog panting if they were playing vigorously with you or the other dogs in your home. After all, when we are active, we breathe more quickly. Dogs also pant to help control their body temperature. It should be noted that panting doesn't always indicate breathing problems. When a dog is having trouble breathing, you may see that their neck is stretched out, that they are keeping their elbows away from their bodies to enable their chest to rise and fall more, and that their respiration may also have what is known as an abdominal component.

If you ever see your dog breathing in this manner, you should seek medical attention immediately. Here's what else you should know about what's going on with your dog if it's breathing fast.

Causes of Fast Breathing in Dogs

A healthy dog's resting respiratory rate is 40 breaths per minute or fewer, and it shouldn't be hard or challenging. For a variety of reasons, dogs can breathe more quickly than 40 times per minute. These vary in terms of how emergent they are. Any of the following conditions might cause your dog to breathe quickly:

Reverse Sneezing

This is the kind of breathing that makes the classic honking sound. It's frequent in smaller breed dogs, such shih tzus, Yorkshire terriers, and pugs, and is often not an emergency. Although it may seem alarming, normally lasts only a few seconds and is caused by either breathing an allergen or simply being aroused.

Excitement, Play, and Exercise

Active dogs may breathe faster in order to bring more oxygen into their lungs to better oxygenate muscles as they play. This is the same reason humans breathe fast and heavy when exercising.


Dogs don't always express their suffering while they're in it. They don't necessarily shout and they don't weep in the same manner that people do. despite the fact that discomfort from an eye condition like a scratch or corneal ulcer can cause a discharge that resembles tears. One of the subtle symptoms of discomfort in dogs is panting.

Stress and Anxiety

Another sign of stress in a dog is panting. However, not all panting canines are worried, so it's important to examine the dog's entire body language to decide whether the panting is caused by stress or something else. A dog that is panting out of worry may also be displaying lip licking, diverting their attention from the source of their concern (such as a vet or vet staff), being too alert of their surroundings, and whale eye, which is when you can only see a sliver of the white of their eyes.

Heat Stroke

Dogs pant because it helps them control their body temperature, thus if they have a fever, they will pant to try to cool off. English bulldogs and other dogs who are prone to will begin to pant profusely if they start to feel overheated in an effort to cool down.

Tracheal Collapse

Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, and are among the little breed canines that are most prone to tracheal collapse. The trachea, or airway, narrows to an impossibly tiny diameter in this illness. This may restrict the dog's capacity to take in air and increase the effort required for breathing.

Laryngeal Paralysis

This disorder affects labrador retrievers and causes one of the cartilage flaps that normally covers and protects the trachea during eating and swallowing to stop retracting and stay in place. This may result in faster breathing as well as breathing that honks.

Heart Failure

Canines that are experiencing heart failure may breathe more quickly and with greater difficulty. A dog's heart struggles to efficiently pump blood to the body and lungs when it is suffering from heart failure. When this occurs, the blood may back up in the lungs' blood vessels. The dog will breathe more quickly to make up for the strain on the lungs, which may prevent them from fully expanding.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

As the name suggests, brachycephalic dogs, including French bulldogs, pugs, and other canines with pushed-in faces, are afflicted by this. Brachycephalic airway syndrome, sometimes known as BOAS or plain BOAS, is a term used to describe a number of problems with a dog's airway. This can include an enlarged soft palate, everted laryngeal saccules, stenotic nares, and other anatomical anomalies. All of these factors on their own might predispose a dog to respiratory issues, but dogs with BOAS are more susceptible due to their anatomical structure to heavy and rapid breathing.

Metabolic Acidosis

This occurs when a dog's body is unable to maintain a normal pH and is most frequently brought on by renal illness or diabetic ketoacidosis. They begin to perspire more when their pH decreases. They are releasing more carbon dioxide as a result, which helps the body's pH to rise.

Treatment of Fast Breathing in Dogs

If your dog is experiencing respiratory distress—for example, if they are having trouble breathing or if the color of their gums and tongue is changing to a dark gray or blue—you should seek veterinarian medical assistance right away. Your dog will either be given "flow by" oxygen or placed in an oxygen chamber when they first arrive at the veterinarian clinic. If your dog has heat stroke and is breathing excessively, you may aggressively cool them down. This can entail covering them with a damp towel and setting a fan in front of them. In order to help them relax, your dog can also receive a little amount of a sedative.

Being in respiratory distress is already stressful, so adding the stress of being unable to breathe effectively can make a dog even more stressed out and lead to higher respiratory effort. Sedation can reduce this additional stress factor. A diuretic, such furosemide, can assist move fluid out of the lung space if your dog is experiencing respiratory discomfort as a result of fluid accumulation in or around the lungs.

The veterinarian can start addressing the underlying cause of your dog's accelerated respiratory rate once your dog's breathing is steady. The reason will determine the course of treatment. Medical management is used to treat issues including metabolic acidosis, discomfort, and heart failure. BOAS, tracheal collapse, and laryngeal paralysis are conditions that can be treated surgically as well as medically.

It might be unsettling to observe your dog breathing quickly or laboriously for no apparent cause. A genuine medical emergency is respiratory distress, which occurs when a dog shows indications of breathing trouble or when the color of their gums or tongue changes. Consult a veterinarian right away if the manner your dog is breathing causes you even the slightest concern.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


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