Don’t be spooked by your puppy breathing rapidly – All your puppy breath questions answered below!
There isn’t a puppy owner on the planet that doesn’t get a little nervous when their new furry little family member breathes heavily.
This is especially true of folks that haven’t owned a lot of dogs, or even folks that have had a lot of dogs in the past but haven’t had a lot of experience with puppies in particular. Breathing is (no shock here) critically important to keep an eye on when your puppy is still quite young – and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when their breathing is erratic.
At the same time, not all breathing issues (sped up breathing, slowed down breathing, a regular breathing) is a sign that something’s wrong.
Sometimes your puppy is just excited to see you, has been running around a lot, or is simply out of air and trying to play catch up a little bit.
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be vigilant every time you see a puppy breathing labored. There are definitely signs and symptoms that you want to be aware of, issues you need to be on the lookout for, and problems you want to get out ahead of ASAP.
And that’s why we have put together this quick guide.
Shall we did right in?
Is It Normal for Puppies to Breathe Heavily?
Context is everything when you’re talking about the way a puppy is breathing.
For example, really labored breathing might be perfectly normal in a puppy that has been running all over the backyard in the middle of the summer. At the same time, laboring to breathe for puppies that have been sleeping all day is almost always a red flag that you have to be on the lookout for.
Context is critical.
What we can tell you that is universal across the board is that a dog breathing fast is always a dog looking to cool down, looking to get more air into their system, and a dog that is wiped out and a little tired.
It can also be a sign of a dog that is hyperventilating, in the sign of a dog that is having an allergic reaction, or the sign of a dog or puppy that has some sort of infection or injury. But again, that’s when context comes into play.
Heavy breathing for a puppy is also really normal when they are sleeping, particularly when they are still quite young.
A puppy is going to breathe heavily when they are between eight weeks old and 24 weeks old, especially when they are going through their growth spurt. This is also when you’re going to find them breathing fast, too.
In fact, if you notice a puppy rapid breathing while they are asleep the odds are pretty good that they are dreaming and sleeping pretty deeply. 30 breaths per minute is pretty fast but still nothing to be worried about when you’re talking about a healthy puppy.
Don’t let rapid breathing freak you out! Any worthwhile veterinarian will tell you that rapid breathing is part of the growth process, helping to flood those little bodies with more oxygen as they get bigger, stronger, and more developed.
When you’re talking about breaths per minute that get higherthem 30 or so you might want to be little more concerned. This can be a sign of a puppy that isn’t all that healthy way puppy that is really struggling to catch their breath.
What Are the Signs of Respiratory Distress in Dogs?
One of your responsibilities as the owner of a new puppy is to make sure that they aren’t suffering from any illnesses or any injuries, particularly life-threatening issues like respiratory distress.
Kennel cough is just one example of a respiratory illness that causes serious distress you want to get out in front of ASAP, but it’s also one of the issues more easily diagnosed. If your puppies are coughing all the time (really hacking and wheezing) the odds are good that they have kennel cough. This is doubly true if your older adult dogs are coughing, too.
More “invisible” breathing issues to be on the lookout for, though, include respiratory distress that’s related to things like:
Excessively hot temperatures – High temperatures are very dangerous for young dogs. Puppies do not sweat, but instead, cool themselves down by panting. Breathing fast with their tongue hanging out (we are talking more than 30 exhales per minute) is almost universally a sign of a dog trying to cool itself down. Too much exposure to high temperatures as a puppy can put their long-term health aspects in jeopardy, but can also kill young dogs that are left in high heat and humidity situations or sentiments of time.
Stress and anxiety – Any dog breath heavy situation can be tracked back to a little bit of anxiety, too. Just like people that breathe heavily and faster when they are dealing with a lot of adrenaline, dogs are going to crank up a lot more rapid breathing when they feel like they are in a stressful situation.
Puppies are particularly prone to this kind of rapid breathing. After all, the world around them is still so brand-new and they aren’t sure of what anything is, really. They are just trying to figure out what their world is all about and it doesn’t take a whole lot for them to get nervous, scared, or anxious. That’s when breathing rapidly is going to be on full display.
Overexertion – Excessive physical activity will have puppy breathing fast situations exacerbate pretty quickly, again because puppy dogs usually aren’t sure of where their “redline” is. It’s not hard for their breathing rate to get elevated in a hurry as they push themselves well beyond their normal breathing rate without even realizing it in the first place. The trouble here is that overexertion can cause a bunch of other problems, too. The first time a breathing rate goes through the roof a puppy might not learn that it’s a bad thing, continuing to push themselves and causing respiratory distress that could prove really dangerous in a hurry.
Of course, there are a bunch of other reasons that a puppy may be breathing fast.
Underlying medical conditions can be linked back to breathing fast for sure. Issues like Tachypnea, Dyspnea, and other serious respiratory conditions can present themselves very early in a dog’s life. We’re talking about within the first few months of a dog being alive, really.
Both of those respiratory issues can eventually choke off the amount of air that your puppy is getting when they are breathing. These are obviously huge problems that you’ll need to get out in front of ASAP as well as medical conditions that you want to have diagnosed properly by trusted veterinarian.
Certain breeds of dogs – like pugs, like bulldogs, like Boston Terriers– that have shorter noses and more compromised respiratory systems as a rule of thumb need everything checked more regularly than other puppies.
We all know that these breeds have a tougher time breathing as it is, and when you compound any of the issues that we highlighted above a puppy breathing fast from one of these breeds can be a sign of real danger.
What Does It Mean When Your Dog Breathes Heavily Through the Nose?
There are a lot of different reasons you might have a puppy breathing fast or heavily through their nose.
Most of the reasons are pretty basic and benign, but other reasons can point to serious breathing rate issues that should be addressed as soon as you can. And some of them point towards potentially life-threatening issues that need to be taking care of away.
To start things off, normal breathing for a puppy is generally pretty accelerated and often could be described as heavier than normal. This links back to what we talked about earlier, with puppies having to breathe differently because they are growing and need so much extra oxygen.
A puppy that is sleeping deeply is almost always a puppy is breathing fast, too. There’s just something about this deep sleep cycle that links up with their breathing in a way that almost always causes rapid eye movement, too.
As long as all those things are happening at the same time and there’s no contextual clues to tell you that something is wrong otherwise you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
When you have to worry is when breathing they get about 40 breaths per minute or something even higher. That’s when their respiratory rate is through the roof, fast breathing and heavily breathing takes on a really dangerous kind of connotation, and veterinarian assistance is required immediately.
This kind of breathing may be linked to serious injuries that dogs are trying to fight off. It also may be linked to exhaustion, overheating, and overexertion as well.
If your dog is breathing rapidly and is not responding the first time that you call them you might not have much to worry about. But if they continue to be unresponsive when you call out to them – and are still breathing fast – something might need to be addressed.
In these situations, you want to figure out quickly why you’re dealing with a puppy breathing fast.
Take their temperature, feel their legs and their muscles for anything abnormal, and make sure that their mouth and airways are unobstructed. They should be able to get plenty of air when they are rapid breathing that’s for sure.
A puppy could be dealing with all kinds of health problems because they are so brand-new linked to the irregular breathing. Sometimes this is a bacterial infection, sometimes it’s something a little more serious. If the rapid breathing issues continue to persist for extended amounts of time and the dog won’t wake up – or is already awake – it’s time to go to the vet.
Why is My Puppy Panting So Much at Night?
Nighttime rapid breathing is (usually) linked directly to a dog being overheated.
It’s important to remember that a dogs temperature is always quite a bit hotter than a humans. These animals just run a little bit warmer than we do as a general rule. They get out a lot of breath because they do not sweat, painting to cool themselves down . If things are particularly humid at this kind of puppy breathing fast activity might go on all night long and then well into the morning, too.
Other reasons you might be dealing with a puppy breathing fast have to do with their normal growth pattern.
We have touched on this a couple of times already, but a puppy breathing fast in the first few weeks to the first few months of their life is very normal. This is especially true when they are sleeping at night as this is when their body does the most growing and developing.
Those little puppy bodies need as much oxygen as possible to grow strong and quick. You usually don’t have anything to worry about when their breath starts to go in and out in a hurry.
Obvious signs that puppies are breathing heavily for not so great reasons can include:
- Their belly moving a lot more than normal during each breath
- Nostrils that are flared while they are breathing
- Breathing with their mouth wide open (not panting), especially if drawl is coming out
- Breathing irregularly when they have their head hung low
- Noisy breathing that sounds like there may be an obstruction in their pathway
If you notice any of those issues with your puppies it’s critically important that you call your vet right away. Especially if noisy breathing sounds like something is obstructing their airflow. It doesn’t take a lot of oxygen deprivation for a puppy to lose consciousness, and it doesn’t take much more oxygen deprivation down that to end their young lives.
Having puppies is always a lot of fun but the responsibility of being a smart dog over is one you need to take seriously, too. It’s not always going to be sunshine and roses with your puppies – though the memories you create with them will last a lifetime (and then some).
There are definitely going to be times where Your puppies put you through the ringer, when they stress you out, and when they have you breathing heavily than you would have otherwise.
Try to remain calm, try to look for contextual clues about why they might be breathing rapidly in the first place, and (as always) reach out to get professional help whenever you feel you are in over your head.
Best of luck going forward raising healthy and happy puppies!