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Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast?

Most dog owners know the body language and behaviors of their pets. We know that dogs breathe a little differently from us, but if they do it excessively and constantly, that may be due to a problem.

It is important to know what normal breathing looks and sounds like in dogs because we can confirm that they have a problem if their breathing is faster. The more we see our pets breathing, the more we will know their respiratory rate.

Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast

Normal Breathing vs Abnormal Breathing in Dogs

Before understanding why a dog breathes fast, it is necessary to know the difference between normal breathing and one that is not.

The first thing you must know is that dogs’ normal breathing is different from that of humans. A canine usually inhales and exhales 10-35 times per minute when it is at rest which is much faster than human respiration.

Also, keep in mind that its breathing can be up to 10 times faster after exercising in the sun. This is known as panting, a mechanism these animals use to cool down, so it is not something to worry about.

On the other hand, abnormal breathing is usually faster and for no reason. A dog can normally breathe up to 35 times per second, but when it exhibits irregular breathing, it will inhale and exhale more than 40 times per minute, even at rest. 

A canine with fast breathing may pant without even exercising and make abnormal noises while breathing. You will be able to easily notice how much effort your pet must make to breathe well.

Fast breathing in dogs is something that we should not take lightly as it could be fatal for them. That is why it is important to go to a veterinarian to help you with this problem.

Reasons Why Dogs Breathe Fast

Although a healthy dog ​​can indeed breathe fast, especially when exercising, we will show you the reasons why an animal of this type would breathe abnormally in this section. Some of the most important are:

Respiratory Infections

Dogs are prone to a wide variety of infections throughout their bodies. Most of them are caused by bacteria which can affect the internal and external structure that influences the breathing of these animals. That includes:

  • Nose
  • Respiratory tract
  • Trachea
  • Lung tissue

One of the most common infections that can cause fast breathing in dogs is infectious tracheobronchitis which occurs due to inflammation of the airways and trachea.

Keep in mind that fast breathing is not always a symptom of respiratory infections. However, if these problems are not treated, they will spread to the lung tissue causing pneumonia.

Pneumonia will cause the alveoli to fill with air, which will gradually cause a drop in oxygen in the blood, resulting in abnormal and difficult breathing for the canine.

Laryngeal Paralysis

The larynx has the function of conducting air through the lower respiratory tract. As you might guess, any problem with the larynx will cause the canine to have trouble breathing due to the air obstruction that could occur.

When this organ is affected, and your dog also has other underlying health problems, there is a chance it has laryngeal paralysis. It is difficult to say a clear cause since even researchers have not been able to determine the origin of laryngeal paralysis.

Many studies hypothesize that this laryngeal problem may be due to GOLPP (Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis and Polyneuropathy), which is known to cause muscle weakness in these animals in addition to oesophageal problems.

Laryngeal paralysis not only causes shortness of breath but also increases the frequency of panting, odd-sounding barks, hoarse and noisy breathing, etc.

Tracheal Collapse

Two of the main functions of the trachea (the structure that reaches the chest through the neck) are:

  • It carries oxygen-laden air to lung tissue
  • It carries carbon dioxide-laden air to the outside

As you can see, the trachea is vital due to its great influence on a dog’s breathing. This structure is formed by rigid cartilaginous rings and the dorsal tracheal membrane.

Both these rings and the membrane can present problems, especially as the animal ages. For example, the dorsal membrane of an older dog might sag a bit as the rings gradually become less firm.

These problems will reduce the space in the airways for air to pass through. Consequently, the air pressure from such a small space will cause the trachea to collapse. This is a serious problem that will make it very difficult for air to get in and out of the lungs.

Heat Stroke

Heat is one of the most common causes of rapid breathing in dogs. This is one of the most normal reasons we will mention in this article, but that does not mean it cannot reach a serious situation.

When a dog gets too hot from excessive sun or exercise, it will begin to pant to regulate its body temperature. However, this situation can become severe in extremely hot weather and if the canine is not adequately hydrated.

If you’re not careful, you’ll notice excessive acceleration in your pet’s respiratory rate. Extremely high temperatures will cause compression of the internal organs, which in turn will lead the canine to suffer from heat stroke.

Heat strokes are considered medical emergencies, so ensure you get your pet to the vet as quickly as possible while keeping it a little hydrated.

The most common symptoms that can indicate that a dog is about to suffer a heat stroke are:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Accelerated breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Seizures
  • Changes in the color of its gums

Other Causes of Rapid Breathing in Dogs

We have mentioned above the most common reasons for fast breathing in dogs. However, other problems can lead to your pet breathing in that strange way:

  • Asthma
  • Airway stiffness
  • Hernia
  • Anemia
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Pain
  • Nausea