Why is My Dog Breathing So Quickly? | 15 Causes & Solution

Why is My Dog Breathing So Quickly? | 15 Causes & Solution

If dogs are suddenly breathing rapidly, this can indicate asthma, allergic reactions, or poisoning. Among other things, it can also be due to bronchitis, Cushing’s syndrome, an overactive thyroid gland, or cardiac insufficiency.

During physical exertion, it is perfectly normal for the respiratory rate to increase. At rest, however, he should breathe between 15 and 30 times per minute on average. 

A stopwatch and a tally are sufficient for measuring. It should also be taken into account that small and young four-legged friends tend to breathe faster than large and old dogs. 

If your dog is breathing unusually quickly, this can be a sign of the following 15 causes.

1. Asthma

If the dog’s airways are chronically inflamed and therefore react overly sensitively, then doctors speak of “asthma”.

Even the smallest irritations such as heat, allergens, or exertion can lead to attacks of shortness of breath. Typical triggers are:

  • mold spores
  • cat hair
  • insecticides
  • cigarette smoke
  • pollen and grasses
  • Room fragrances

Airways tend to swell on contact, requiring dogs to breathe very quickly to maintain oxygenation. Other classic signs are:

  • Strong panting
  • loss of appetite
  • Sudden cough
  • heavy breathing
  • Panic Behavior
  • Pale gums
  • lack of energy

Asthma is currently considered incurable. For this reason, it is important to prevent potential triggers as much as possible. Medications can also relieve the symptoms.

Dogs with asthma often experience shortness of breath attacks when inhaling certain irritants. It can be recognized by the fact that the dog is panting heavily, breathing rapidly and the gums are becoming paler. This usually clears up on its own within a few minutes. 

2. Laryngeal Paralysis

The movements of the larynx are controlled by the muscles located there. However, if the nerves to the muscles fail, paralysis can occur.

Since the larynx is essential for eating, drinking, and breathing, such a disease usually announces itself at an early stage. Typical signs of this are:

  • pitch changes
  • Frequent choking while drinking
  • discoloration of the mucous membranes
  • rattling breathing
  • Constant choking and coughing
  • Dog breathes fast
  • Trouble eating

Fortunately, the symptoms here usually appear insidiously. The cause of this is so far unclear. However, the following breeds are said to be most commonly affected:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Siberian husky
  • Newfoundland
  • Golden retriever
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Dalmatians

In the beginning, most of the symptoms can still be treated with medication. Over time, however, surgical correction may also be necessary.

Dogs with laryngeal paralysis usually experience increasing breathing problems. Among other things, it can be recognized by the fact that there are rattling noises when breathing, the respiratory rate increases and the dog constantly chokes on drinking.

3. Brachycephalic Syndrome

Nowadays, the breeding of dogs in Germany is subject to strict guidelines. It used to be different. This explains why there are so many “torture breeds” to this day.

The “brachycephalic breeds” are the prime example here. Because in order to reach the short snout of these animals, breathing problems were willingly accepted.

Or to put it another way: These breeds get more problems because of their breeding in the past. The most well-known brachycephalic breeds are:

  • English bulldog
  • Boston terrier
  • Pug
  • Chihuahua
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Pekingese

The problem? In many cases, these dogs’ nostrils are so narrow by breeding that they have to breathe much faster to take in the same amount of oxygen.

In addition, the palate of these four-legged friends is often so long that it narrows the airways. Shortness of breath is therefore more common in heat or physical exertion.

In dogs with brachycephalic syndrome, the nostrils are so narrow due to breeding that the four-legged friends affected have to breathe much harder and faster. Sometimes the problems are so severe that the airways have to be surgically widened.

4. Anemia

After the oxygen has been absorbed through the lungs, it is transported through the blood to the corresponding organs. More precisely with the red blood cells.

In some dogs, however, the proportion of these blood cells is so low that insufficient oxygen reaches the organs. Typical causes of this are:

  • Genetics
  • Cushing’s Syndrome
  • Medication
  • Blood-sucking parasites
  • Infectious diseases
  • Internal bleeding

Rapid breathing is merely an attempt to supply all organs despite the lack of oxygen supply. Other typical symptoms are:

  • Constant tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • cold ears
  • The dog gets tired quickly
  • Changing chair color
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid pulse

A blood test is usually carried out by a doctor to determine the level of red blood cells. This can usually be treated well with medication.

In dogs with anemia, there is not enough oxygen in the body when breathing normally. Because of this, affected dogs breathe unusually fast. Anemia can also be recognized by the fact that the four-legged friend is constantly tired and sleeps a lot.

5. Allergic Reaction

According to studies, up to 20% of all dogs suffer from allergies. The triggers for this are so-called “allergens”. The most common representatives include:

  • Pollen and grasses
  • Dairy, grain, and soy products
  • Insecticides and other chemicals
  • Proteins of certain meats
  • Home Fragrances and Perfumes

Here I advise paying attention to when exactly the symptoms occur. Because that often gives conclusions about the potential trigger. Typical symptoms of allergies are:

  • Severe itching
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Strange breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Redness and swelling
  • Diarrhea

Since there is no cure for allergies, it is important to avoid the responsible allergens. If you suspect the food, then I advise you to do such a food check.

There you will not only get individual recommendations but also a complete box with food samples. And it’s completely free of charge – it doesn’t get any cooler than that!

Dogs with allergies often experience breathing problems when they come into contact with the allergens. Among other things, it can be recognized by the fact that the symptoms occur suddenly, the dog scratches constantly, breathe quickly, or even throws up. This is where an allergy test can help.

6. Heart Failure

The heart also plays a role in oxygen supply. The oxygen is absorbed through the lungs, but the cardiovascular system then takes care of the distribution.

The problem? If the blood circulation pump is too weak, then too little oxygen gets to the muscles and organs. Typical causes of this are:

  • Myocardial disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heartworms
  • Bacterial and viral infections
  • Heart valve disease

What is striking here is that dogs breathe rapidly both during the day and during sleep. In addition, there are usually other pathological symptoms. This includes:

  • Strong panting
  • Constant tiredness
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Frequent breathlessness
  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
  • listlessness

Older dogs are particularly affected. For diagnosis, an ECG is usually performed and the blood is examined. In any case, you should visit the veterinarian.

In dogs with heart failure, the entire organism is often a little slower. It can usually be recognized by the fact that the dog sleeps a lot, is exhausted very quickly, and is almost always tired. But rapid breathing and constant panting are also common here.

7. Cushing’s Syndrome

Normally, higher levels of stress hormones are only released when dogs are in a stressful or life-threatening situation.

With Cushing’s syndrome, however, excessive amounts of stress hormones are released permanently – regardless of the situation. The causes of this are:

  • 80% tumor in the pituitary gland
  • 20% tumor in the adrenal glands

The hormone disorder can usually be recognized by the fact that dogs suddenly become very thirsty, breath quickly, and pant constantly. Other classic symptoms are:

  • Strong appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Recurrent inflammation
  • Crusty skin
  • Swollen belly
  • Frequent urge to urinate

If the underlying tumor is discovered early, it can often be surgically excised. If not, medication is usually used.

Dogs with Cushing’s syndrome have consistently elevated levels of stress hormones. In practice, this means that they are constantly thirsty, eat a lot, and also breathe faster. It also leads to hair loss and water retention over time.

8. Constricted airways

When the airways are narrowed, the body does not get enough oxygen at a normal breathing rate. Possible causes of this are:

  • Foreign body

Dogs’ natural curiosity sometimes becomes their undoing. This is when they accidentally swallow things and they get stuck in their throats.

  • Developmental disabilities

In some dogs, the neck, palate, and pharynx do not develop as usual. Any abnormalities can therefore make breathing difficult.

  • Inflammation

Viral or bacterial infections in the throat and pharynx can narrow the airways. Affected dogs therefore usually breathe faster than average.

  • Insect bites

Hunting dogs often snap at wasps, bees, or even hornets. However, if these pierce the throat, the airways can swell.

  • Tumor disease

Above a certain size, tumors in the lower and upper respiratory tract also usually affect the breathing of the four-legged friend.

Swallowed foreign bodies, swelling caused by inflammation, or even insect bites can constrict the airways and make breathing difficult. Rarely, tumors or developmental disorders can also be behind rapid breathing.

9. Poisoning

Even if the news often speaks of poisoned baits, in reality, the dog owners themselves are usually behind the poisoning – just not on purpose.

The reason? Beginners often assume that foods from their everyday diet must also be healthy for dogs. However, the following foods are toxic:

  • Grapes, raisins, and wine
  • Walnuts and macadamia nuts
  • Beer hops and alcohol
  • Leeks, onions, and garlic
  • Chocolate and cocoa products

Swallowing chemical cleaning agents or toxic plants can also be the cause. Classic signs of this include:

  • Sudden tremor
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dog gets diarrhea
  • Licking the lips
  • Constant panting

In case of suspicion, you should contact the veterinarian immediately. Because even if the poisoning goes away on its own, it can lead to permanent organ damage.

When dogs accidentally swallow the wrong foods or other toxic things, poisoning can occur. Among other things, it can be recognized by the fact that they vomit, breathe quickly, or suddenly have diarrhea.

10. Anxiety & Stress

Negative emotions like fear and stress can lead to the release of adrenaline and cortisol. Typical triggers for these emotions are:

  • Violent handling
  • Presence of strangers
  • Loud noises
  • Strange environment
  • Visit to the vet
  • Contact with dominant dogs
  • Lack of socialization

Among other things, however, these stress hormones also increase the heart rate. This explains why anxious dogs also breathe faster. Other typical signs are:

Here you should first identify the cause. If you can’t remove the trigger, I advise gradually getting the dog used to it.

In the case of very anxious dogs or four-legged friends with dementia, calming medication can also be useful. Personally, I see this more as the last option.

When dogs feel fear and stress, the increased level of stress hormones also leads to faster breathing, among other things. These emotions can usually be recognized by the fact that the affected four-legged friend becomes restless, trembles, and begins to pant.

11. Bronchitis

The lower respiratory tract is also referred to as the “bronchi” by medical professionals. However, if these become inflamed, then this is called “bronchitis”.

A distinction is also made between acute and chronic symptoms. In addition to allergies, there are also other potential causes:

  • Irritants in the air
  • Worm infestation
  • Bacterial inflammation
  • Fungus
  • Viral infections

Bronchitis is most likely to be recognized by the dog suddenly starting to cough, breathing rapidly, and wheezing. Other typical signs are:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sudden drooling
  • Constant choking
  • listlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath

If allergies are behind the problems, then I advise you to carry out an allergy test. In the case of inflammation, on the other hand, antibiotics are usually used.

In dogs with inflamed bronchi, the airways swell, making it much harder for them to breathe. It is typical here that affected dogs cough constantly, suddenly choke and breathe quickly. An increased heart rate and loud breathing are also common.

12. Heat Stroke

Dogs naturally have a slightly higher body temperature than humans. Between 38 and 39 °C is perfectly normal for them.

However, even 2°C too much can have life-threatening consequences. For this reason, you should never lock your four-legged friend in the car in the summer.

In contrast to us, dogs only have sweat glands on their paws and have a coat that is a great heat insulator. Typical signs of heat stroke are:

  • Excessive panting
  • Strong thirst
  • Rapid breathing
  • Bright red gums
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle tremors

The first step here is to cool down the dog. To prevent any consequential damage, you should also consult a veterinarian immediately.

Basically, the longer the dog has been overheating, the greater the potential consequences. To prevent this, I recommend a cooling dog mat in summer.

Heat stroke can cause dogs to have a rapid heart rate, pant heavily, and breathe unusually quickly. In most cases, it is due to being locked in poorly ventilated and hot spaces such as the car.

13. Pneumonia

The lungs act as a kind of pump, taking in oxygen on the one hand and expelling carbon dioxide on the other.

However, if viruses and bacteria get into the lungs, they can also become inflamed. Doctors then speak of “pneumonia”. Other typical causes are:

  • Infestation of fungi
  • Heart and lungworms
  • Infections of nearby organs
  • Tumor diseases of the lungs
  • Airborne Irritants

It can usually be recognized by the fact that the dog breathes strangely. By weird, it meant that he is breathing irregularly, unusually loudly, or rapidly. Other classic symptoms are:

  • Constant coughing
  • Rapid exhaustion
  • Runny nose
  • Weight loss
  • Listlessness
  • Fever

Since bacteria are often the trigger, antibiotics are usually sufficient for treatment. In any case, you should visit the vet to minimize long-term damage.

In dogs with pneumonia, breathing is also significantly affected. Among other things, it can be recognized by the fact that the affected four-legged friends breathe faster and louder. Frequent coughing and listless behavior can also indicate this.

14. Tracheal Collapse

In healthy dogs, the trachea is held open with the help of cartilage and muscle strands. In some breeds, however, it collapses over time.

This so-called “tracheal collapse” is more common in small breeds that have flat faces and short muzzles. Typical examples of these are:

  • Pug
  • Affenpinscher
  • Maltese
  • Bulldogs
  • Yorkshire terriers
  • Shih Tzu

Fortunately, such a collapse does not happen overnight. Rather, it is gradual. It can usually be recognized by the following symptoms:

  • Labored breathing
  • Cough on lifting
  • Dog breathes fast
  • Gagging and vomiting
  • Dog gets bad breath
  • Bluish mucous membranes
  • Frequent ingestion

In the beginning, it is often possible to widen the trachea with the help of medication. In the case of severe impairments, however, surgical correction may also be necessary.

When dogs suffer from a collapsed trachea, this can usually be recognized by their breathing becoming increasingly rapid and labored. This primarily affects small brachycephalic breeds. In addition, the symptoms appear rather insidiously.

15. Hyperthyroidism

One of the key functions of the thyroid gland is the production of hormones – more specifically, the thyroid hormones. In the case of an over-function, too many of them are produced.

As a result, all metabolic processes run at full speed and all organs run at full throttle. The most common causes of this are:

  • Thyroid cancer
  • Medication
  • Raw feeding

It can usually be recognized by the fact that the dog is breathing faster, has a high pulse, and is drinking an unusually large amount of water. Other typical signs of this are:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Swollen face
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Weight Loss

Since a tumor is a cause in most cases, surgery is often performed. However, If cancer has already spread, medication is used.

In dogs with an overactive thyroid, the entire organism is always running at full speed. Among other things, this leads to an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and hyperactivity. Digestive problems are also common here.

Categories Top

Leave a Comment