Why Is My Puppy Breathing Fast?

Welcoming a puppy into your home is a joyous time. With watching your new addition’s every move, you may be alarmed when suddenly noticing a fast breathing rate in your furry friend. So what could cause a puppy to breathe rapidly?

In this article we will discuss the details of a fast breathing puppy, and help you understand what is normal in your canine companion.

Normal Breathing Rate In Puppies

Why Is My Puppy Breathing Fast

To be aware of an abnormal breathing rate, you should first understand what a normal breathing rate in a puppy is. Puppies tend to have a faster respiratory rate compared to adult dogs, but there is a standard range to be aware of. In a resting adult dog, you should expect to see a breathing rate between 10 to 30 breaths per minute. However, a resting breathing rate in a puppy can be up to 40 breaths per minute.

This normal breathing rate can change based on the activity your puppy is participating in. If your puppy just got done playing a game of fetch in the backyard, their respiratory rate may increase to 50 or even experience panting. However, they should always return to a normal breathing rate within 15 minutes of the activity ending.

What Is A Fast Breathing Rate In Puppies?

Now that we’ve discussed a normal breathing rate in puppies, it’s time to dive into what is considered a fast breathing rate in our canine friends. So how fast is too fast? If their respiratory rate is any higher than 40 breaths per minute, it’s time to take notice. As we mentioned above, a puppy’s breathing rate may increase slightly while they are engaging in physical activity. Normal puppy play time may lead to a few extra huffs and puffs, but their resting respiratory rate should not be higher than 40 breaths per minute.

When determining your puppy’s breathing rate, it’s important to know the difference between panting and fast breathing. A panting puppy may appear to breathe rapidly, but this is just their method of attempting to cool off. If your puppy’s mouth is open with their tongue hanging out, this is likely panting and not fast breathing. The best way to count your dog’s respirations is by waiting for a calm moment, or counting their breaths while they sleep.

If your puppy is truly experiencing a breathing rate of higher than 40 breaths per minute, it’s time to pay close attention and contact your vet for further advice.

Why Is My Puppy Breathing Fast?

If your puppy is breathing fast, you are likely searching for an answer to ease your worries. To help you better understand this abnormal behavior, let’s discuss the possible causes of an elevated breathing rate in puppies below.

1.) They Are Excited

If your puppy is overcome with excitement, this may alter their normal respiratory rate. Excited puppies usually bounce around with joy, causing them to breathe a bit faster than usual. Similar to a child running toward a jungle gym, an excited puppy may display outward signs of their joy. This can include whining, hyperactivity, and even a fast breathing rate. If your puppy is currently worked up over something they love, this may be the cause of their fast breathing.

2.) They Are Stressed

Just like adult dogs, a puppy can experience anxiety and stress. This is usually tied to a certain event, but can affect a puppy at any time. For example, if your puppy is breathing faster than usual each time they go for a car ride, they may have some mild anxiety around road trips. This stands true for any other potentially stressful situation as well, as rapid breathing is a common sign of canine stress. If your puppy’s fast breathing ends once they are out of the stressful situation, it is likely due to anxiety.

3.) They Ate Too Much

Some puppies are known to scarf down food the moment it hits their bowl. Not all puppies understand how to pace themselves when they eat, resulting in a swollen belly and an increased breathing rate. If your puppy is breathing fast directly after eating, be sure to pull their food and water and allow them to rest. Monitor them closely for the next couple hours for any signs of nausea, abdominal pain, or any other signs of discomfort.

If your dog’s breathing returns to normal once their food settles, they may have just eaten too much or too quickly. If this seems to be a common problem with your puppy, you can always invest in a slow feeder to help them slow down during meals.

4.) They Played Too Hard

If your puppy has a fast respiratory rate after engaging in play time, they may just need some time to wind down and catch their breath. Puppies love to play, and will often play until they are absolutely beat. Due to this, they may not always understand their exercise limits. This can lead to fast breathing, panting, and even a long nap afterward.

If your puppy’s fast breathing is due to playing too hard, their respiratory rate should return to normal within 15-20 minutes of the activity. The best way to help them in this situation is ending the activity, bringing them to a cool environment, and avoiding any other stimulation while they calm down.

5.) They Are Dreaming

If your puppy is suddenly breathing quickly while they are sleeping, they are likely having an exciting dream. Some dogs even bark and move in their sleep, leading to an array of unexpected sleep behavior. If your puppy’s fast breathing resolves within a few minutes, this is usually nothing to worry about.

However, if your puppy is experiencing fast breathing that seems labored while they are resting, this is something to take note of. Fast breathing for long periods can always be an indicator of something more, especially if it occurs when an animal is relaxed. If their breathing does not resolve within a few minutes, we suggest contacting your veterinarian for further advice.

6.) They Have A Respiratory Illness

If you are able to rule out all of the above causes, your pup could be struggling with some type of respiratory illness. Puppies are especially vulnerable to contagious illness if they are not yet fully vaccinated, some of which do affect their respiratory health. With these contagious diseases potentially impacting the lungs, a fast breathing rate is a common symptom to be aware of.

If a puppy does have a respiratory illness, there are usually other symptoms present as well. Symptoms of respiratory disease include sneezing, coughing, eye discharge, runny nose, fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and labored breathing. If your puppy is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Respiratory illness can progress quickly, and become more challenging to treat as time goes on without medical attention.

They Are In Pain

An elevated respiratory rate is a common symptom in painful dogs and puppies. Puppies are known to play rough at times, leading to potential injury in some cases. Dogs and puppies that are in pain may breathe quickly, pant, whine, appear restless, and display signs of overall discomfort. If you think your puppy’s fast breathing rate is due to an injury, we suggest contacting your veterinarian for further care.

Is Their Breathing Labored?

If you think your puppy is breathing faster than usual, you should check for any sign of labored breathing as well. A puppy that is experiencing labored breathing along with an elevated respiratory rate is a medical emergency, and can point to something serious. So how can you know if your dog is having labored breathing?

The best way to determine this is by watching their chest and their abdomen as they inhale. Breathing should be easy for a puppy, and should not involve a full body movement. Much of a puppy’s inhale will be present in the chest, and will not involve abdominal contraction. If it seems like your puppy is putting forth a large amount of effort to inhale, this is extremely concerning.

A puppy that is having labored breathing may also extend their neck out in effort to ease their struggles. You may see them close their eyes as they inhale, or even have a zoned out appearance. If you see any signs of labored breathing in your puppy, it’s best to contact your veterinarian immediately.

When To See The Vet

If you are ever concerned with your dog’s respiratory rate, we always suggest contacting your vet for further advice. A puppy’s ability to breathe is not something to take lightly, and veterinary guidance can make all the difference. Even if your puppy is healthy, speaking with a vet can offer peace of mind.

If your puppy is showing signs of respiratory distress, we always suggest seeing your vet as soon as possible. Puppies can decline quickly if they are struggling to breathe, giving you a small window to seek help when it’s needed. When it comes to breathing, it is always best to be safe.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, many factors can impact a puppy’s normal breathing rate. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can better help your canine friend going forward!

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