Heavy breathing is fairly common in dogs. It manifests with rapid, struggled and loud breaths. In most cases it’s just a normal response of your dog’s body and their way of cooling down. However, there are a few situations in which it can raise some concerns. If you are asking yourself “Why is my dog breathing heavy?”, keep reading to find out.
Why is my dog breathing heavy?
While heavy breathing can be a completely normal body mechanism, it can also hit at a more serious health issue.
It can even be a sign that your dog doesn’t get enough oxygen to their tissues and organs.
What causes heavy breathing in dogs?
In most cases it’s just your dog being hot. Dogs don’t sweat, so panting helps them cool down when they are in a hot environment.
Some dog breeds, like french bulldogs or pugs, are more prone to heavy breathing because of their short snouts.
But there’s also a number of conditions that can cause heavy breathing in dogs as well. These are:
- Respiratory diseases
- Fluid in lungs
- Heart failure
- Cushing’s disease
- Side effects of medications
How to differentiate heavy from normal breathing
Contrary to heavy breathing, normal breathing shouldn’t ever be labored. A normal breathing rate for dogs is somewhere between 10 and 35 breaths per minute. In average, thats about 24 breaths.
If your dog is breathing heavy even when he is resting, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue.
What about puppies?
The normal breathing rate for puppies is a bit higher. Compared to adult dogs, puppies have both a higher respiratory and heart rate. A normal breathing rate for puppies is somewhere between 15 and 40 breaths a minute.
Puppies breath more rapidly when they are sleeping as a response to what they are dreaming about. That happens during the REM phase of sleeping and can be accompanied with your dog kicking his leg.
When to be concerned about heavy breathing
While most pet owners who are concerned about their dog’s heavy breathing have nothing to worry about, others may actually do.
If your canine is only breathing heavy when he’s exercising or in a hot environment, there’s nothing to worry about. However, here are the cases in which you should definitely schedule an appointment with your vet.
Your dog is breathing heavy even when resting
This can be a red flag for a number of health issues. Monitor your dog, and if the heavy breathing doesn’t stop, contact your vet.
Your dog is displaying pale or blue gums while breathing heavy
If you notice your dog’s gums turning blue or pale, seek the help of a professional right away. It can be a sign that your dog’s body isn’t getting enough oxygen.
Your dog is panting with a closed mouth
Panting or heavy breathing with a closed, or only partially closed mouth can be w sign of something serious going on with your dog.
Your dog is coughing
When the heavy breathing is accompanied by coughing, it can be a sign of a respiratory disease. Seek help right away.
Your dog appears to be in distress
If your dog appears to be in stress while he is breathing heavy he may be going through some serious stress. He may also show some other signs like tucking his tail between his legs and pinning his ears back.
Your dog is making other noises while breathing heavy
If you also notice some other weird noises besides the heavy breathing, like snorting, wheezing or retching, schedule an appointment with your vet. Those can be signs of different respiratory conditions like chronic bronchitis, for example.
Some of our other health-related articles: