My Puppy Is Breathing Fast. Should I Worry?
The first thing we would like to mention is that puppy owners should not be that worried if they notice fast breathing, being that puppies tend to breathe a bit faster than adult dogs.
We are aware that new owners will be concerned if they hear rapid breathing in puppies, so we decided to gather all the useful information about whether their puppy’s rapid breathing is something that should be taken seriously.
Take into consideration the fact that rapid breathing in puppies is not unusual in hyper-rambunctious pups at their peak of juvenile life.
It is a fact that a reasonable explanation exists behind rapid breathing in puppies, but new owners need to be ready to recognize those instances when disease processes or medical conditions actually trigger an increased breathing rate.
We will divide a puppy’s rapid breathing into two categories: normal, physiological causes and worrisome pathological ones.
You need to first understand what kind of difference exists between these two so as to know what steps you should take to help your dog if necessary.
In the case of normal, physiological causes, you can hear the fast breathing of your puppy after taking it out in the yard to play or if it is expressing strong emotions such as excitement, fear, or stress.
Pathological causes for rapid breathing in puppies are actually the result of medical conditions and your puppy will be breathing fast even though there is no actual reason for this.
So, the circumstances leading up to the fast breathing situation are the main differences between these two causes.
If you cannot determine what the cause is or you are not sure, it is always advised to consult with your veterinarian, especially if your puppy’s breathing pattern appears abnormal.
Any abnormal breathing in your puppy will not soon disappear and a visit to the vet is always the best solution.
Normal Breathing Rate in Puppies
As already mentioned, at a certain point you need to determine whether a fast breathing puppy has a serious issue or it is normal.
You should with assessing the normal breathing rate that is typically expected to see in puppies.
According to the Animal Emergency Center, the normal breathing rate ranges between 10 and 30 breaths a minute when older dogs are in question, but, in puppies, it may be ranging between 15 and 40 breaths per minute.
The way you can determine the average breathing rate in your puppy is by watching the fast movement of his chest.
Now, you may be wondering how fast is too fast?
Getting Your Pup’s Respiratory Rate
The process of determining what breathing rate your pup lies within starts with making sure that your puppy is calm and relaxed, as well as that it is not actively panting.
This means that your pup must have his mouth closed and its tongue should not be sticking out.
We know that it is difficult to find a moment when your pup is calm as puppies are always active, but you need to be ready to catch your puppy at a moment of relaxation.
At that moment, you should measure your puppy’s respiratory rate.
What you will get is a number that can be compared when you notice any rapid breathing.
The baseline number of breaths should be counted when your puppy is calm and you are supposed to count the number of times your puppy’s chest area rises and falls.
An Easy Short Cut
It is true that the task of counting your puppy’s breath can be challenging, as you will have to measure the breaths for a full minute and you have an active pup that will not remain calm during this whole process.
The best moment to do this is when your puppy is sleeping quietly or resting calmly.
You need to watch his chest move and count one breath as one in-and-out movement.
Also, you can use a stopwatch to time 30 seconds and count your puppy’s breaths in this time frame.
The number you get you can multiply by 2 and get the number of breaths in 60 seconds, that is in one minute.
If your puppy is not calm for even thirty seconds, another option is taking your puppy’s breaths for 15 seconds, and the number you get you should multiply by 4.
It is always suggested to repeat this calculation a few times to make sure that you are getting a consistent finding.
That way you will determine whether your puppy’s breathing rate is in the safe breathing range or there is any need to consult the vet.
Panting Doesn’t Count!
It is worth remembering that the breathing rate check has to be performed only when the pup is relaxed.
The moment when it is actively panting and the tongue is sticking out does not count.
Do not perform this measurement after a walk or after playing hard or during summer days when your dog is out.
Recording the respiratory rate when he is panting will only produce a wrong reading.
This is due to the fact that when a dog starts panting his breathing rate can range from 30 to 40 breaths per minute.
According to some statistics, there were dogs with 300 to 400 breaths per minute.
Plus, a puppy that is panting has a respiratory rate that increases dramatically and owners should not take it as something serious.
The reason for this fast breathing is that dogs cannot sweat from the skin as humans do so that is the way they cool themselves down quickly.
Puppy Breathing Fast in the Crate/Car
You may have noticed that your pup is not physically active and it is still breathing fast.
This can be because he feels hot if the crate is in direct sun.
Also, a puppy in a crate will be panting or breathing if it is being exposed to an uncomfortable situation.
But, if the problem appears every time you put your pup in the crate or on a car ride, you need to take into consideration that your poor pup may be stressed.
It is your task to determine whether your puppy’s rapid breathing is related to the specific contexts.
You will have to pay attention to whether once your puppy is allowed out of his crate after a car ride it goes back to breathing normally.
This type of breathing can be just temporary, but if your puppy is stressed every time it is in the crate, you must help it learn that being crated is actually a great thing.
This can be achieved by tossing treats in the crate where it can enjoy a toy or treat.
Another solution is to keep the crate open at the beginning so that your puppy does not feel trapped.
Have in mind that puppies always need some positive happenings in the crate so as to learn to accept it, as they are not born to simply live in a crate.
A similar thing has to be done when car rides are in question.
You need to make the car ride fun so as to be accepted as a great thing by your puppy.
What is more important, you need to make sure your puppy does not get car sick.
Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping
The problem that puppy owners come across was when their puppies breathe fast during sleep.
In these situations, the majority of new pup owners will get concerned and that is a normal reaction.
There is no reason to always be concerned about seeing your puppy breathing heavily during his sleep. It is true that we expect a puppy’s breathing rate to slow down when they are sleeping, but we have to know that if they are dreaming, breathing quite quickly is a normal reaction.
What you need to pay attention to is whether the puppy’s rapid breathing stops and returns back to its normal rate once he awakens or his dream finishes.
We suggest that you see your vet only if your puppy’s breathing rate fails to go back to normal.
Also, if the pup is having trouble finding a comfortable position to sleep, visiting a vet is advisable.
Another suggestion is that you must resist the urge to wake your puppy up because it is panting while having a bad dream.
Sleep is very important to puppies as that is the moment when they grow and develop, so you should let them sleep and dream.
Puppy Breathing Fast From Disease
Tachypnea is the medical term for rapid breathing.
This kind of behavior should be a reason for concern as there are no obvious explanations for it.
Actually, a puppy’s rapid breathing occurs even though the puppy did not exercise, it is not hot, and there is no reason for the puppy to be stressed.
The moment you should be concerned is when this rapid breathing has no explanation and it does not stop.
The medical term to be concerned about is dyspnea, and it depicts labored breathing.
You need to be worried about this as it is respiratory distress caused by some pathological disorder.
The puppy’s breathing will be specific as it will be using his abdominal muscles to breathe and when it breathes it takes effort.
You may even notice some gasping noises as the pup breathes.
Other symptoms can be pale, white, or blue (cyanotic) gums.
Noticing this type of breathing, you must take your pup to a vet as it requires immediate veterinary attention.
Puppies experiencing dyspnea exhibit signs suggesting difficulty breathing.
You will be able to notice a puppy having trouble breathing as it will take some abnormal positions with the aim to help increase the intake of oxygen.
If this is the case, the pup will be keeping the head and neck extended or the elbows held wide apart.
Some diseases or conditions can cause a puppy to breathe fast and we would like to mention several respiratory and non-respiratory disorders.
Anemia, heart problems, circulatory problems, heartworm disease, pneumonia, infections, fever, dehydration, pain, shock, or perhaps some side effect from a medication or exposure to a toxin may cause changes to a puppy’s normal respiratory rate.
All these illnesses are easily noticed as they are accompanied by other symptoms, not only the increase in respiratory rate.
What will alert you that something is not right are coughing fits, pale gums, lethargy, loss of appetite, congestion, and exercise intolerance.
Have in mind that sometimes puppies tend to mask their symptoms and you may fail to recognize them.
When getting a puppy you should know that puppies belonging to brachycephalic dog breeds are those with smudged-in faces and a short and wide skull.
English bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers belong to brachycephalic dog breeds and these puppies overheat easily from exercise or hot weather due to stenotic nares, elongated soft palates.
Your task as their owner is to keep them safe from exhaustion by paying attention to their breathing rates especially during hot weather or when they exercise.
The answer to the question of whether your puppy’s rapid breathing is a concern is that it depends on what your puppy was doing when you noticed fast breathing, how hot it was, whether your puppy was sleeping or playing, whether it felt stressed or relaxed.
If the puppy’s rapid breathing has an explanation and after the triggering situation passes, the breathing returns back to normal, there is no reason for concern.
But, if it is the case of unexplained rapid breathing accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, pale gums, lethargy, or a runny nose and coughing, you can be sure that something is wrong, and seeing a vet is the only right move you should take.