Listed below are ten potential causes of your dog's rapid breathing.

Exactly why is my dog's breathing so rapid? common query among pet owners There are situations in which rapid breathing is completely normal, but there are also situations in which it could indicate a serious problem. Veterinarian and proponent of integrative medicine, Dr. How to Tell If Your Dog Is Breathing Normally and 10 Conditions That Could Be Causing Your Dog to Breathe Fast is a reassuring read by Julie Buzby.

Golden Retriever being pet in a park, panting, photo

If you're a dog lover, you probably spend a lot of time gazing at your furry friend. It's natural to question whether or not your perceptions are typical. As an example, your dog's breathing rate and pattern may change significantly throughout the day.

My intent is to assist you in determining when your dog's behavior deviates from the norm and necessitates a trip to the vet. Let's start with Jake, my dog, to establish a norm for canine respiration.

When does a dog's breathing become abnormal?

Jake, being a dog, enjoys lazing around the house for a good portion of the day. His normal resting breathing pattern should consist of nasal breathing with his mouth closed. The number of times he breathes (inhales and exhales) per minute would range somewhere between 10 and 35 if I were to count them. (My blog Keeping a "Pulse" on Your Dog's Vital Signs has more information on how to determine your dog's respiratory rate.)

Occasionally, during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, he will breathe rapidly in his sleep. Aside from that, he might whimper, twitch, or growl in his sleep. Provided I can bring him to consciousness and he resumes his regular behavior (and breathing) once he is awake. Do not worry about this at all It's more likely that this is a dream than a more serious condition, like a dog having a seizure.

Panting with his mouth open and tongue protruding is possible if he plays outside with my children while the temperature is high. Due to a lack of sweat glands, this is a common way for dogs to cool down. Not too concerned as long as he isn't exerting himself to the point of extreme panting, is otherwise acting normally, and his panting subsides once he returns indoors to a more comfortable temperature.

Black lab panting while in the park, photo A heavy, raspy breathing and voice changes are symptoms of laryngeal paralysis, which is common in Labrador Retrievers.

When does a dog's breathing become "abnormal"?

Now that you have a baseline for comparison, we can discuss what is abnormal. Take care to observe for:

  • Increased heart rate and breathing rate (to greater than 40 beats per minute) while at rest or sleep
  • Abnormal breathing sounds (grunts, squeaks, or harsh noises).
  • Panting for no apparent reason (not overheated, not in direct sunlight, etc.).
  • Breathing quickly through an open mouth, but not sticking out the tongue
  • Effortful breathing (using the abdominal muscles to draw in or expel air) is heightened.
  • Breathing that is either too shallow and too fast, or too deep and too slow
  • Tongue or gums with a bluish tinge
  • Rapid or labored breathing while standing; reluctance to sit or lie down for extended periods
  • Showing signs of distress, such as appearing breathless,

The presence of any of these symptoms suggests that your dog may be having difficulty breathing. Take the animal in for an examination and treatment right away. Don't wait around for help to arrive; your dog could die from respiratory distress.

Here are ten potential causes of my dog's rapid breathing:

From here on out, we'll discuss some of the more common medical issues that can cause your dog to be breathing rapidly and/or abnormally. Keep in mind that there are many potential causes for these symptoms and that not all of them are covered here. In the event that your dog is having difficulty breathing, a trip to the vet is in order.

Golden Retriever heavily panting while in the woods on a walk, photo Intense breathing rates could indicate physical distress. If the problem persists, you should see a vet.

1. Paralysis of the larynx

The larynx of your dog is often referred to as its "voice box" due to its boxy appearance and function in vocalization. The trachea is a long, thin airway that runs from the back of the throat up to the lungs. When your dog consumes food or water, the laryngeal flaps close over the tracheal opening because of the action of small muscles. When a dog breathes, these muscles also move the laryngeal flaps out of the way, allowing for more air to enter the trachea.

The laryngeal flap(s) may become partially obstructed at the tracheal orifice if the nerves that control the laryngeal muscles are compromised. Because of the resistance created by the defective flap(s), less air is able to enter the lungs.

Laryngeal paralysis can be caused by neck trauma or other underlying health issues in dogs. However, the root cause is often a mystery in geriatric canines. There is speculation that it is a symptom of a condition known as geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy (GOLPP). Generalized muscle weakness and esophageal dysfunction are two additional symptoms of GOLPP in dogs. Although any dog is at risk, laryngeal paralysis appears to be more common in certain breeds like German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.

Possible symptoms of laryngeal paralysis include:

  • Noisy, choppy, or ragged breathing
  • Modifications to your dog's "voice" (a new bark)
  • Panting more frequently
  • Problematic, high-pitched breathing that gets worse with activity or excitement.

Laryngeal paralysis can lead to life-threatening breathing problems in extreme cases. Call your local emergency vet immediately if you notice your dog is having trouble breathing or his gums are turning blue. As I discuss in my blog post, Canine Laryngeal Paralysis: A Veterinarian Answers Your Questions, tie back surgery for dogs and/or medical and environmental management can help some dogs with laryngeal paralysis.

2. Collapse of the trachea

The trachea is a long tube that extends from the back of the neck into the chest and divides into the two primary bronchi (i.e., the bronchioles). e which carry air to the lungs Among its many roles, the trachea is responsible for carrying oxygenated air to the lungs and exhaling carbon dioxide-filled air.

Shih Tzu panting while walking down a paved path, photo Smaller dogs are more susceptible to tracheal collapse.

About 80% of the trachea's circumference is made up of firm cartilaginous rings in a healthy trachea. The remaining twenty percent is occupied by the soft-tissue structure known as the dorsal tracheal membrane, which extends from ring edge to ring edge.

The cartilaginous tracheal rings become less rigid and the dorsal membrane descends into the tracheal space as dogs age. As a result of these factors, the airway becomes narrower and less air can pass through. Visualize this as sipping a thick milkshake through a paper straw. The milkshake isn't very satisfying because the straw always seems to break.

Collapse of the trachea is a similar condition in canines. The dog's air intake and output are both diminished because of the collapse and narrowing of the trachea during respiration. The result is a hacking cough (that sounds like a goose honking), rapid breathing, and occasionally respiratory distress. If your dog is having difficulty breathing, you must take him to the vet immediately.

While any dog is at risk for tracheal collapse, toy breeds like Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Yorkshire Terriers, Boston Terriers, Pomeranians, Lhasa Apsos, and Toy Poodles are more likely to experience it. Tracheal collapse is commonly worsened by obesity. It's for this and other reasons that knowing how to determine your dog's canine body condition score (BCS) and how to assist your dog in losing weight if necessary is so crucial.

Pneumonia and other respiratory infections

The respiratory system (the nose, the trachea, the airways, and the lung tissue) is vulnerable to infection from a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. However, there are infections that only inflame the trachea or the larger airways and never spread. Infectious tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough, is a common respiratory illness that can be caused by a wide variety of microorganisms. A dog with a mild case of kennel cough may only exhibit a severe cough and continue breathing normally.

Kennel cough (or other infectious agents) can sometimes spread deeply into the lung tissue and cause pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia can also occur if a dog accidentally swallows or breathes in food, liquid, or vomit. Any dog is at risk, but those with laryngeal paralysis are at increased risk because their airway is not protected by working laryngeal flaps.

In cases of pneumonia, the alveoli (i e air sacs) in the lungs become clogged with fluid and debris from the infection. Because of this, the alveoli are less efficient at converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. This can cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop, resulting in rapid or labored breathing. Some additional symptoms of canine pneumonia include a high temperature and a lack of energy.

French Bulldog laying down on the pavement, panting, photo Brachycephalic dogs are more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Disorders of the Lower Airway

Bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchioles or small airways) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a form of progressive and chronic bronchitis, are just two of the many diseases that can affect the lower respiratory tract. Some of these diseases of the lower airways have unknown origins, but the severity of their symptoms can be exacerbated by things like obesity, infections, and environmental irritants.

Long-term inflammation leads to airway narrowing, making it harder to breathe. Consequently, both the intake of oxygen and the exhalation of carbon dioxide are impeded. Therefore, dogs suffering from lower airway disease may have persistent coughing. Rapid, labored breathing and increased panting may be symptoms. Sometimes even light exercise will cause breathing problems, and in extreme cases the dog may even collapse from lack of oxygen.  

Get your dog checked out if he or she is coughing or breathing rapidly. Keep track of whether or not the bronchial issues appear to be connected to any environmental exposures (i.e. e contaminants (from cigarettes to pollen to candle wax to cigarette smoke)

Fifth: Heat Stroke

Hot weather prompts humans to release sweat through specialized glands in their skin in an effort to maintain a steady internal temperature. The evaporation of sweat helps to cool them down. The only place a dog can sweat is through its paws, however. They still need to rely primarily on panting to get rid of excess heat because this is not enough to help them.

When a dog's body temperature rises too quickly, it can cause serious health problems. On a hot day, a dog's body temperature will rise quickly and panting won't be enough to bring it down if it's trapped inside a car (even with the windows cracked). (To find out more, check out the AVMA's article on the dangers of transporting pets by car on their website. Or, a dog can easily overheat during exercise on a hot day. It's not safe to assume that your dog will know when to stop playing in the heat.

When the core temperature of the body reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, organs may begin to fail. In dogs, this is what we call heat stroke, and it's an emergency. Warning signs of heat stroke include:

  • Extreme exertion in breathing
  • Collapse
  • Symptoms of disorientation, convulsions, or tremors
  • The occurrence of nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhoea
  • The gum's color can shift, going from pink to bluish purple to gray to red.
Chow Chow sitting in the home, panting, photo In hotter climates, dogs with thicker coats may not be able to cool off properly through panting.

Any of these symptoms calls for a fast trip, air conditioning on full blast, to the vet. Before getting in the car, give your dog a quick rinse with cool water, but avoid giving it a full bath or putting it in the freezer.

Be careful out there, it's hot.

It is crucial to keep your dog cool and safe from the summer sun, especially if you live in a hot climate. When it comes to dogs, even a mildly warm day can be fatal. Heat stroke is possible in any dog, but especially in:

  • Dogs with thick or dark fur are better able to maintain their body temperature.
  • Dogs and cats with a flat face, called brachycephalic breeds (i e people with short noses) because it is difficult for them to breathe and sweat because of their narrow airway (caused by their long soft palate, small nostrils, and thin trachea).
  • Dogs that are too fat (Unsure Find out if your dog is overweight by reading my post!
  • Pets that can't breathe normally because of issues like heart disease, laryngeal paralysis, or a collapsed trachea

Symptom #6: Heart Disease

When it comes to your dog's health, the heart ranks high on the priority list because of the vital role it plays in distributing oxygen-rich red blood cells throughout the body. Oxygen-starved cells in a dog are pushed back toward the lungs by the organ's pressure in order to replenish their supplies. Your dog is vulnerable to the effects of anything that can affect his or her heart.

Canine heart disease is characterized by a wide range of symptoms, including electrical disturbances (e. g , irregular heartbeats) to conditions that reduce the size and strength of the heart's chambers (i.e., enlargement, hypertrophy, and fibrosis e (Canine congestive heart failure, dilated cardiomyopathy, and valvular heart disease) It all adds up to a heart that isn't pumping blood properly. If your dog's heart isn't pumping enough oxygen to the body, you'll notice he starts breathing more quickly. Congestive heart failure makes breathing difficult to begin with, and the condition gets worse as fluid accumulates in the lungs and abdomen.

Chihuahua panting, outside in the mulch, photo Symptoms of heart disease include an elevated respiratory rate, cough, and intolerance to physical activity.

In addition to the aforementioned signs, heart disease can also cause:

  • The inability to sleep due to coughing, especially when excited
  • Resistance to Exercise
  • Rapid breathing (greater than 40 breaths per minute) during sleep or rest.
  • Gums that are either purple or blue
  • Instances of collapsing
  • Problems breathing

Please consult your veterinarian immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Incurable heart disease However, many times the symptoms can be controlled with medication for a while so that your dog can continue to have a high quality of life.

7. Pain

Dogs are experts at masking their discomfort when they're in pain, and this discomfort can arise from a number of different sources. When they are in pain, they may make noises or favor a certain limb. Dogs' pain signals can be obvious sometimes, and more subtle on other occasions. Dogs suffering from discomfort may breathe quickly or pant excessively even when at rest. They may withdraw and hide, hold their bodies awkwardly, or display other abnormal behaviors.

In addition to the above, the following are also frequent causes of discomfort:

Plan a trip to the vet if Fido seems to be in distress. The temptation to give your dog some of your Advil or other human pain reliever may be great, but remember that these drugs can be fatal for dogs.

As of late, I was performing a wellness check on a senior Scottie dog. His concerned father had noticed that he was panting more than usual and acting a little "off." His senior bloodwork was perfect, and his heart and lungs were healthy and strong. I suspected arthritis pain because he tensed up when I manipulated his hips and knees.

Back lab playing with a stick in the water, photo When a person has anemia, which can be brought on by ticks or fleas, their breathing rates will naturally rise. Flea and tick preventatives should be used on all at-risk pets.

We began giving him a canine joint supplement, and I recommended trying an NSAID as well. When his father called to check in, he was overjoyed to hear that his dog was breathing easier and acting like a different animal.

8. Cancer

There are several ways in which cancer can affect your dog's breathing. Coughing and trouble breathing are symptoms of lung cancer in one of your dog's lung lobes due to inflammation and tumor pressure. In order for cancer to spread to other parts of the body, a process called metastasis must first take place. e to the lungs, which can lead to rapid breathing in dogs.

Fluid accumulation in the lungs (i.e., pleural effusion) can also be caused by certain cancers. e fluid accumulation in the lungs (i.e., pulmonary edema) or in the area of the lungs (i e Effusion of the Pleura) Pleural effusion and pulmonary edema both prevent the lungs from expanding to their full capacity, limiting the dog's ability to breathe and exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen. An elevated respiratory rate or alterations in respiratory effort may result from either of these conditions.

9. Anemia

It is the function of red blood cells to transport oxygen to the body's tissues. If a dog has anemia, then (i e has a low number of red blood cells, thus less oxygen reaches the body's tissues As a result, the dog may try to compensate by breathing more rapidly. Anemia is also characterized by pale gums, fatigue, and weakness.

Anemia can be caused by a wide range of medical issues, including but not limited to:

  • Hemolytic anemia mediated by the immune system (i e red blood cell (RBC) (self-)attack
  • Diseases spread by ticks
  • Vector-borne organisms that feed on human blood (i e Vermin such as Fleas, Ticks, and Hookworms )
  • Bleeding inside the body can be caused by a number of things, including gastrointestinal ulcers, splenic masses in dogs, hemangiosarcoma in dogs, and trauma.
  • Impairment of bone marrow function due to cancer, chronic illness, etc.
  • Pesticides, herbicides, and pharmaceuticals
  • Cancer

The effects of anemia can be fatal. Anemia in dogs is a serious condition that needs to be checked out and treated right away if you notice any symptoms.

Pit Bull heavily panting while outside, photo Panting excessively is a symptom of anxiety in some dogs.

10 - Worry

One of the answers to the question, "Why is my dog panting and restless?" could be anxiety. Anxious dogs often show physical symptoms such as panting and rapid breathing as well as other behaviors such as yawning when they are not tired, cowering and trembling, and even destructive or aggressive behavior. There are a number of potential causes of canine anxiety, including:

Please consult your veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect that your dog is experiencing anxiety. It's much simpler to deal with anxiety when it first begins than after it's been reinforced by weeks, months, or years of anxiety-inducing situations. Anxious dogs can benefit from a wide variety of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical treatments.

Consult your animal hospital.

In conclusion, as you can see, there are many potential causes of rapid canine breathing, some of which are potentially fatal. Dogs typically take between 10 and 35 breaths per minute, so if you're worried about whether or not your pet is breathing normally, counting their breaths is a good place to start. Taking a quick video of your dog's breathing can be helpful in case there is a change before you reach the vet.

Importantly, if you are worried about your dog's breathing, you should take him to the vet right away. Trust your gut; you know what's best for your dog. It's tough to be staring at your dog intently, trying to decide whether to call the vet or wait it out. If you have any doubts, you should call. Perhaps you'll hear that your dog is doing well. To the contrary, your meticulousness could lead to an early diagnosis of one of these conditions by your veterinarian. Maintaining vigilance over your dog's respiration rate could save its life.

senior golden retriever and title: for everything you're wondering about your senior dog, photo

Exactly what triggered your dog's rapid breathing, if you encountered it?

To help others, please tell us about your canine companion in the space provided below.

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