Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast? Understanding Risk

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Author: Jacob Kay

Dog’s body functioning and health issues differ from humans, which is why the paw parents worry about their fur baby. Even the slightest change in dogs stresses their human parent. If you own a dog then you might be having such terror encounters daily, one such is a dog’s breathing have you wondered, “Why is my dog breathing fast?”

You might have often noticed your dog breathing fast and that might have raised your concern too. All you might want is to know the reason for this. Now you don’t need to worry, we got you all covered. Through our blog, we will discuss all the factors regarding dog’s breathing along with common and serious issues.

Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast?

What Is Normal and Abnormal Breathing for Dogs?

Breathing indicates your dog’s health to an important extent. It is important to understand the breath of dogs to keep track of their dog’s health. Abnormal breathing can be an indicator of health issues in dogs.

Whether the breathing of his dog is normal or not can be known by observation and through the respiratory rate. The normal breath of a dog lies between 10 and 30 breaths per minute. However, this is general calculation and can vary depending on the size, breed and age of the dog.

If your dog is breathing fast[1] after exercise, stress, sudden excitement or heat then it is completely normal and you might not need to worry. This is all part of normal breathing in dogs as it happens due to physical stimulation.

Breathing is said to be abnormal if it is noisy and uneven even after no stimulation or activity. A few of the signs of abnormal breathing are:
  • Dog breathing with open mouth and elbow sticking out of the body
  • Breathing with nostrils wide open
  • Rapid up and down movement of chest and belly while breathing
  • Lowering the head and neck in front while breathing
  • Makes coughing, sneezing or snoring sounds while breathing

Abnormal breathing in dogs is a worrisome situation and upon noticing any such abnormalities you should consult a vet. Abnormal breathing in dogs is an indicator of health issues which can be fatal.

As mentioned by Katie Grzyb, DVM in petmd, "Rapid breathing is normal if your dog is exercising, excited, or stressed, but it should not continue when they are resting or sleeping. If your dog has an increased respiratory rate (usually greater than 30 breaths per 60 seconds) when sleeping or resting, this is a medical emergency; there may be an underlying issue with your dog’s lungs, heart, or airways."

Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast?

Here are the factors that can be responsible for fast breathing in dogs:

Dog Breathing Fast

Common cause

One of the important and not-to-worry factors leading to fast breathing in dogs is physical stimulation and excitement dogs. Dogs in their day-to-day life indulge in various physical activities like walking, running or playing, which can lead to fast breathing in.

Apart from this the nature of dogs has an inbuilt excitement, which peaks every now and then. This increased excitement level causes fast breathing in dogs. Just like we humans breathe fast after walking, or any physical activity dogs too do the same.

This fast breathing happens as the result of a sudden increase in heart rate which leads to more oxygen requirement. These common causes are normal and you may need not to worry about it.


If a dog is facing a certain amount of discomfort or pain then he can breathe fast to cope with that. Pain boosts the heart rate and blood pressure in a dog’s body which naturally increases the breath.

If along with fast breathing, your dog is panting excessively then it is a clear indication that your dog is in pain. This pain can be due to injury or any internal health issues and this should not be left unaddressed.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common and serious issues that dogs go through. This stress activates the acute stress response in dogs, which makes them charged up and ready to fight and attack.

This is why a stressed and anxious dog is always in triggered mode and gets easily triggered by noises, people or other creatures. This sudden action leads to fast breath in a dog.

 canine influenza

Heat stroke

Heatstroke is a condition in dogs that occurs when the temperature in the dog’s body rises to beyond certain level. A dog’s body already generates an ample amount of heat and their cooling glands are restricted to paws and nose.

So if your dog is having heatstroke all the cooling mechanism fails which causes fast breathing in them.

Respiratory infection

Respiratory infections like kennel cough, pneumonia or canine influenza affect the airway of a dog’s lungs. This airway thus decreases the inflow and outflow of air causing inflammation, mucus and even the pus in the lungs.

Apart from this the other infections that harm the dog’s respiratory system can be caused by parasites, fungi, bacteria or viruses. These infections are not only contagious but are also fatal.

The effect of such infections on a dog’s respiratory system enables proper breathing, resulting in fast breathing.

Heart problem

If your dog is dealing with any heart problem, it too can lead to fast breathing. The heart pumps blood, if there is an issue with heart functioning then it affects oxygen delivery. If oxygen is not reached in the required quantity then to compensate your dog will breathe fast.

The common heart problems that can affect a dog’s health are heart failure, heart valve disease and heartworm disease.


Anaemia is a condition which lowers the dog’s red blood cell and haemoglobin levels. The function of red blood cells is to supply oxygen to other tissues. Anaemia when affects the RBC, and the lack of oxygen rises, resulting in the need for oxygen.

Thus to fulfil the requirement of oxygen dogs breathe resulting in fast breathing.


In bloating a dog’s stomach gets filled with gas and twists, this stops the blood supply and cuts off the connection with exit routes. The gas in the stomach causes bloating which puts pressure on the diaphragm and lungs making it hard for dogs to breathe.

What To Do if Your Dog Is Breathing Fast?

If your dog is breathing fast here’s what you can do:

  • Check for injury or illness, if your dog is breathing fast more than often without any physical activity. If there is no injury then the possibility of your dog suffering from internal health issues increases. To know the reason observe other symptoms too along with fast breathing and consult a vet.
  • Check if your dog’s gums, if the gums are pale and dry, this is an indicator of a serious problem.
  • After physical activities let your dog rest and cool down at a comfortable place and provide him with water.
  • If your dog is stressed and anxious then shift him to a quiet and comfortable place away from unwanted noises and distractions.
  • Keep a close watch on your dog, if fast breathing is accompanied by dry cough, bloating, sneezing, and other respiratory issues consult a vet immediately.

How To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy?

Here are some tips to keep your dog healthy and happy:

Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy

Maintain your dog’s weight

To keep a dog healthy and happy it is very important to maintain their weight. A dog with a healthy weight is likely to be ill. An obese dog suffers from a lot of health issues like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, respiratory infections and even cancer.

Provide a balanced diet

A balanced diet provides dogs with all the required nutrients and minerals. Providing your dog balanced diet benefits your dog’s overall health keeping them fit physically as well as mentally. It provides the dog’s body with all the required nutrients safeguarding them from illness.

Regular exercise

For any dog, exercise is the most important factor and very necessary too. A dog’s body requires exercise to be energetic, active and fit. Exercise helps dogs not just burn calories but also strengthens their bones and muscles and increases their intelligence.

Exercise includes both physical as well as mental stimulation. To strengthen your dog’s mental health, play games like hiding the treats in toys or fetch.

Proper grooming

Grooming is a must in dogs, it helps to keep them clean and healthy. A dog’s body attracts a lot of dirt and debris and this can lead to serious skin infections and diseases. Dogs grooming includes bathing, cleaning nails, ears, eyes, brushing teeth, and ticks and flea treatment.

Routine checkup

People often skip the routine check-up of their dog and think that they only need to visit the vet in case their dog is ill. A dog’s body is different from a human’s and so are their health issues apart from this dogs cannot express their pain like humans.

A regular routine check-up helps to know if your dog is in any discomfort or pain. By doing this you can ensure your dog remains healthy and can prevent the serious illness by getting to know it early.


Dogs are social animals which is why they need to socialise regularly. Take your dog for a walk and let them interact with people and other animals. This will reduce their boredom and frustration and solve their lot of behavioural problems.

You might be thinking why all the suggestions to keep the dog happy are linked with their health. A healthy dog tends to remain fit, active, playful and full of energy which helps them to learn things quickly. Thus a healthy dog remains happy.


Why is my dog breathing fast?

There are many reasons why your dog might be breathing fast. Some of them are common and you may not need to worry, while a few of them are serious and can be health-related. The common cause might include sudden excitement, exercise or heat.

How can I calm my dog’s breathing?

To calm the dog’s fast breathing try making the environment quiet and calm, this will help the dog relax. Apart from that try gently stroking your dog and massaging, it will help to relieve the tension of your dog. You can even try distracting your dog with some engaging activities and toys.

What is a dog’s breathing rate?

The dog’s breathing rate is nothing but the number of times your dog breathes fully. This breathing rate is also called the respiratory rate. The normal breathing rate of a dog is somewhat between 10 and 35 breaths per minute.

Do small dogs breathe faster?

Yes, small dogs breathe faster than older ones because they have higher resting heart and metabolic rates. Due to higher resting heart and small lung capacity the smaller dogs tend to breathe faster. The breathing rate of smaller dogs is between 15 to 30 breaths per minute.

Why is my dog breathing so fast while sleeping?

If your dog is breathing so fast while sleeping then it is normal and you don’t have to be worried about it. Dogs tend to breathe fast in sleep as they can be dreaming about something. Other than that dogs experience the REM (rapid eye movement) phase which requires more oxygen intake leading to fast breathing.


Fast breathing in dogs can be related to both common reasons which are normal and serious health issues. If your dog is breathing fast then check for other symptoms too and upon noticing consult a vet immediately. We hope that our blog, “Why is my dog breathing fast?” helps you.

Your dog might not be able to tell you their issues but they do it through their actions. This is why it is important to monitor your dog’s health from time to time.


  1. Dyspnea (Difficulty breathing). (2018, May 22). Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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