Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast?

There is nothing more concerning than noticing a sudden change of breathing pattern in our canine friends.

A once calm pup experiencing rapid breathing is not only startling for owners, but it could point to the development of certain health complications.

So why is your dog breathing so fast all of a sudden?

In this article we will discuss the most common causes of fast breathing in dogs, and help you better understand what normal breathing should look like in our canine companions.

What Is A Normal Breathing Rate In Dogs?

Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast

To better understand when our dogs are experiencing abnormal breathing, it’s important to understand what normal breathing looks like for our canine friends.

Having an idea of a healthy respiratory rate in dogs can not only help you spot any concerning symptoms as they develop, but help you better understand what is normal for your pup.

When examining your pup in a resting position, you should count their respirations at anywhere from 15 to 35 breaths per minute.

You can do this by counting how many times their chest moves in and out over a 20 second period, and multiplying this number by 3.

Once you multiply these numbers, you will have your pup’s respiratory rate per minute.

It’s important to note that you should only count your dog’s respirations when they are resting, as their breathing rate will naturally increase with exercise.

As long as you wait about 15-20 minutes after any activity, you should be able to determine an accurate respiratory rate.

What Does Normal Breathing Look Like In Dogs?

Not only is it important to understand normal respiratory rates in dogs, but it’s essential to know what normal canine breathing looks like as well.

Many respiratory conditions have been detected when an owner notices a change in breathing patterns, so it’s essential to understand all aspects of the action.

When a healthy dog is breathing, they should not struggle with the process in any way.

A resting dog should be able to breathe freely without opening their mouth, and the action itself should not be accompanied by any wheezing or whistling.

The movement of pushing air in and out of the lungs should only involve their chest, and will include minimal abdominal movement.

Overall, the action should be effortless.

What Does Labored Breathing Look Like In Dogs?

Labored breathing in dogs can be a major indicator of developing respiratory conditions.

The best way to detect labored breathing in dogs is by understanding what is normal for your pup, as this will offer you an immediate notification if something is wrong.

In addition to knowing what is normal for your pup, it’s important to understand the signs of a dog struggling to breathe.

As we mentioned above, normal breathing in dogs should not involve much abdominal movement, and it should be accomplished without effort.

A dog that is experiencing labored breathing may take deep breaths with short exhales, they may involve abdominal movement each time they inhale, and their breath sounds may even be more exaggerated than usual.

Some dogs will even experience open mouth breathing, and the color of their gums may even appear muddy or purple.

Why Is My Dog Breathing So Fast?

Once you understand what normal breathing looks like in our furry friends, it’s easier to pick up on any subtle changes in breathing pattern.

If your dog’s resting respiratory rate is ever above the normal breathing range, there are a list of potential factors that could be to blame.

To help you answer the question of why your dog is breathing so fast, let’s discuss some of the most common reasons why.


Just like you and I, our dogs can overexert themselves when engaging in exercise.

Our dogs don’t understand that there are limits when it comes to being active, causing them to play and play until they have drained their energy.

This is especially common when our dogs are engaging in a fun activity, as it’s almost impossible to get them to take a break.

If a dog pushes themselves beyond their limits, they can easily experience rapid breathing until they have finally calmed down.

If it takes longer than 20-30 minutes for your dog to calm down after an activity, we suggest reaching out to your vet for guidance.

Your Dog Is Experiencing Anxiety

Dogs can experience anxiety and nervousness when dealing with any form of environmental change.

Dogs can experience anxiety due to approaching thunderstorms, a new person in their home, and any other abrupt change that can disrupt their normal patterns.

An anxious pup may experience rapid breathing, panting, whining, pacing, and even increased vocalizations.

If you think your dog may be breathing differently due to increased stress, we suggest exploring different soothing options to help them work through it.

Your Dog Is In Pain

Have you ever been in so much pain that you find yourself breathing heavier than usual?

This is no different for our pups, as pain can easily disrupt their normal breathing patterns.

Any form of pain is extremely difficult for a dog to work through, as they are unable to rationalize their current struggles.

Fast breathing and panting is a dog’s way to combat their current discomfort, and it will often be accompanied by other changes in behavior as well.

Signs of pain in dogs can include trembling, whining, hiding away, drooling, lethargy, and even changes in personality.

You may also see specific symptoms based on where the pain is originating from, ranging from limping on an injured limb to appearing guarded in their abdominal region.

If you think your dog is experiencing pain for any reason, we suggest reaching out to your veterinarian for guidance.

Your Dog Is Overheating

If your dog is struggling to regulate their body temperature, you may notice rapid breathing.

Panting is a dog’s way of attempting to cool themselves off, as they do not have sweat glands to help them lower their body temperature.

Though panting is not the same behavior as rapid breathing, a dog may develop an increased breathing rate if they are unable to cool down with standard methods.

This may persist long after they have left the warm environment, and it may be accompanied by other signs of overheating or heat stroke.

Some of the most common signs of overheating and heat stroke in dogs include panting, rapid respiratory rate, drooling, weakness, disorientation, dry or sticky gums, and even collapse.

If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, we suggest having them seen by your vet immediately.

If you think your pup is simply becoming too hot for any reason, it is time to remove them from the situation and cool them down.

Your Dog Has A Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections of any kind can lead to fast breathing in dogs.

Respiratory infections can cause inflammation of a dog’s nasal passages, as well as difficulty breathing if any infections have impacted their lungs.

Though it typically is considered a more severe respiratory infection if it has begun to impact normal breathing patterns, it should still be considered in all cases.

If your dog is experiencing rapid breathing as a result of a respiratory infection, we suggest reaching out to your vet for further guidance.

This can be a sign of developing complications with their condition, and your pup may require specialized care going forward.

Your Dog Is Experiencing An Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions are another potential reason why your dog is breathing so fast.

Not only can the discomfort of itchy skin and hives cause a dog to breathe rapidly, but it can also occur if a dog is experiencing swelling of their breathing passages.

Allergic reactions from insect stings have also been known to cause panting and rapid breathing, as the site of their sting can be incredibly painful.

Some of the most common signs of allergic reactions in dogs include redness of the skin, itching, facial swelling, swelling of any area, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, disorientation, and even collapse.

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your pup, we suggest reaching out to your veterinarian immediately.

Your Dog Has A Tracheal Condition

There are some tracheal conditions that cause a change in respiratory rate in some furry friends.

Any obstruction of the trachea can make it extremely challenging for a dog to breathe, causing them to inhale at a rapid rate to compensate for their struggles.

This can be the case for dogs with tracheal collapse, tracheal foreign bodies, and even laryngeal paralysis (though this technically involves the larynx).

If your dog has been diagnosed with any form of tracheal condition and has developed rapid breathing, we suggest reaching out to your vet for assistance.

Your Dog Has A Lung Condition

Any form of lung condition can lead to increased respiratory rates for our furry friends.

Conditions ranging from pneumonia to lung cancer can make it challenging for our dogs to catch their breath, causing them to breathe rapidly in effort to get enough oxygen.

Not only may these dogs struggle to breathe normally, but it may become winded more easily after any form of activity.

Other symptoms of an underlying lung condition can include coughing, runny nose, lethargy, weakness, crackling when breathing, wheezing, anorexia, and fever.

If your dog is experiencing any form of respiratory distress, or any of the symptoms listed above, we suggest seeking immediate veterinary care.

Your Dog Has A Cardiac Condition

Cardiac disease will directly impact a dog’s ability to breathe normally in many cases.

Cardiac conditions can cause an overflow of fluid into a dog’s lungs, making it extremely challenging to breathe as their disease progresses.

Unmanaged cardiac conditions can not only cause rapid breathing in our canine friends, but many owners will notice labored breathing as well.

Some of the other symptoms that may be present include coughing, coughing up fluid, decreased stamina, decreased appetite, wheezing, crackling when breathing, abdominal swelling, and muddy/purple gums.

Whether your dog has already been diagnosed with a cardiac condition or these symptoms are a new development, we suggest seeking veterinary care if these symptoms are present.

My Dog Is Breathing Fast While Resting

We expect our dogs to breathe faster when they are active, so any increased breathing rates while they are resting should always get your attention.

A resting dog that is breathing quickly can be a sign of any of the complications listed above, as well as an array of other illnesses that cause discomfort.

If your resting pup is experiencing any significant change in breathing, it’s never a bad idea to give your vet a call.

Why Is My Dog Breathing So Loud?

Unless your dog is snoring while they sleep, they should not experience any noisy breathing.

Though some breeds of dog with short noses and elongated soft palettes may snort with each breath, even this is not considered normal.

Our dogs should be able to breath with ease just as you and I can, so any noisy breathing should warrant concern.

This is especially true if your dog has never made these noises before, as this could mean they are experiencing sudden respiratory distress.

When Should I See The Vet For My Dog’s Fast Breathing?

When dealing with something as important as breathing, it is always a good idea to seek veterinary guidance if you have noticed sudden changes.

While factors such as overexertion or anxiety can typically be managed at home, other factors we discussed will require immediate medical care.

The general rule of thumb when discussing respiratory changes in dogs is as follows: if it concerns you in any way, it is best to give your vet a call.

Final Thoughts

Respiratory changes are nothing to take lightly when discussing our dog’s health.

Be sure to understand your dog’s normal breathing patterns going forward, as this can help you detect any changes as soon as they develop.

There is one comment:

  • Debby Hughes at 1:10 am

    Thank you for all of the very helpful information!
    My Lucy has been breathing fast even when resting and at time she can’t seem to get comfortable when laying down so she gets up and changes sides. The vet listened to her heart for 10 minutes and couldn’t hear anything and said to bring her back is she starts to coughing. He did run a bunch of blood work and nothing show there. I know something is wrong and I will continue to watch and take her back if there is any changes. Thanks again for all of your help, it let’s me know what to watch out for.

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