Recently I noticed my dog started breathing very fast and sometimes even irregular. I counted his breath, and he is taking 35-40 breathes per minute. This scared me because he was not panting as his mouth was closed.
So, I spoke to the vet and got things clear. Do you also wish to know why dogs breathe fast when they sleep?
Then you must read this whole article. I have dug deep knowledge.
Well, it can be because of medical issues and many more. I have also explained what are the symptoms and what actions can be undertaken?
So, let’s get started.
Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast in Sleep?
Dogs breathe fast when they fall asleep. It can be a matter of concern in the majority of cases.
But, not every time it is a wrong indication. Sometimes your dog’s heavy breathing can be because he is in the REM phase.
Now, you must be wondering what is REM phase is, right?
Well, it is a stage of the sleep cycle where eyes move rapidly and do not send any visual messages to the dog’s brain. This process is also typical in mammals.
As the body performs so much activity, dogs ask for more oxygen. As a result, he breathes heavily.
Other than that, if you have a small puppy, fast breathing is common.
Did you know a young puppy’s heart rate and breathing process are more rapid than an adult dog?
Well, a dog breathing heavy is part of concern only when it is because of a health illness. So, to know more about these, scroll down.
8 Most Probable Reasons For Your Dog To Be Breathing Fast In Sleep
The listed down pointers are the medical reason for dogs breathing heavily.
1. Stress and Anxiety
A stressed and anxious dog is more likely to take deeper breaths while sleeping. His hearts pump quickly, and organs work faster. As a result, he needs more air to breathe.
That is why mental health is essential! Make sure to give them love and make them socialize with others at an early stage.
The next medical reason is anemia. Anemia in dogs is a condition under which the body stops producing enough red blood cells. Blood contains enough oxygen, which helps to circulate throughout the body.
Due to this, the body creates a lack of oxygen in its brain. As a result, he starts breathing fast in order to consume more oxygen.
3. Heat Stroke
Do you know when dogs are under heat for a long time, it becomes difficult to breathe? Plus, their pulse starts increasing?
Generally, dogs don’t sweat to cool their body. They usually keep panting. Hence, heatstroke is one reason why your dog is breathing fast.
4. Heart Failure
If your dog is a patient of congestive heart failure (CHF), he is prone to face breathing issues while sleeping. Moreover, he will also cough a lot.
The breathing issue is not limited to sleeping hours but also when he does some physical activity.
A dog with allergic respiratory problems will end up breathing fast while he is asleep. It happens because his body fails to keep his breathing pace regular.
6. Fluid in the Lungs
Generally, a small amount of fluid is present in the dog’s lungs.
When the portion of liquid increases, it causes issues. The lungs carry oxygen from the surroundings and put it back into the bloodstream.
Thus, when the amount of fluids is more, the lungs fail to carry oxygen into the dog’s blood, and he breathes heavily.
7. Metabolic Acidosis
Now let’s move on to the next medical problem, Metabolic acidosis. It is a medical condition under which a dog’s body fails to maintain an average Ph balance.
When a dog’s body PH balance is not average, he tends to face severe issues like cardiac problems, difficulties in breathing, and loss of minerals.
8. Laryngeal Paralysis
This is a bit complex. So, let me elaborate on it to you in plain English. The larynx is the dog’s voice box. It is made of a series of cartilages in the throat. It is used to close the windpipe and lungs when dogs eat or drink.
The working pillar of this box is the laryngeal muscles. So, when the muscles start collapsing, it becomes paralyzed, and cartilages fail to function.
As a result, dogs face the issue and start breathing heavily. So, if your dog is affected due to Laryngeal paralysis, he will tend to breathe faster.
So far, you know all the possible reasons why your dog is breathing heavily.
But do you know how you can control such a situation from occurring? No, right? So let’s learn that in the next section.
7 Symptoms Of Fast Breathing In Dogs
If you see the following symptoms in your dog, you must take him to the vet and take utmost care of him.
- The dog will have trouble breathing (see his stomach whether he is using his stomach to inhale oxygen)
- Unwilling to eat food, he will not have enough water. Plus, he won’t be physically active at all.
- Your dog will lose weight and become weak.
- Check your dog’s gum line. It will be pale, blue, or red.
- Excessive drooling.
- He will use his mouth to take a breath.
- Fast panting and breathing.
Heavy Breathing Vs. Normal Breathing In Dogs
You must be wondering how to determine heavy breath because dogs usually make noise even when they pant or breathe.
Well, not to worry, we are here for you in this section. You can quickly learn the difference.
Check the dog’s chest. When his chest goes in and out, it will make one complete breathing cycle. The best time to check the breathing rate of a dog is when he is sleeping.
And generally, a healthy dog will take 10 to 30 breaths per minute. If the breaths are more than 30, it is a matter of concern. It is not normal, and you must speak to your vet for a reason.
Tip: You can try mobile apps to count your pet’s breathing rate.
Do Some Dog Breeds Breathe Faster Than Others?
The answer is yes. Brachycephalic breed dogs like Boxer, Bulldog, and Brussels Griffon have small noses and mini muzzles, so the airway’s passage is small.
Such dogs will pant heavily and have heavy breaths when they fall asleep because of their body structure. Thus, there is nothing significant to be worried about.
What Can I Do To Help My Dog Breathe More Easily?
You have to take care of your dog to help him breathe easily. Look for a good food diet, offer him enough water, make sure he is not suffering from heatstroke.
Get him a comfy bed where he can sleep effortlessly. Make sure to check his breath counts and see whether his gum line is pale or not.
Keep all those food out of his way through which he can get allergies. Keep him happy stress-free.
Make sure to speak to your vet and get the proper treatment.
It is easy to fix breathing issues in dogs at home in most cases. But you have to take professional help if the condition gets severe.
How Does The Vet Help Dogs Diagnose Heavy Breathing Issues?
The vet will carry a complete physical examination of your dog. He will take all tests to cross-check whether the issue is arising from heart failure, respiratory problems, or the head, neck, or lungs.
Remember to keep your dog’s old medical reports ready with you as he may need to learn all the history. He can also get your dog’s X-ray report to determine the cause precisely.
If your puppy is breathing quickly, it can be because he daydreams. Don’t worry; there is not something to panic about.
But, if you find your dog is heavily breathing when falling asleep, then it can be because of poor health conditions. He might be suffering from anemia, heart failure, or allergy.
You must take professional help and get him diagnosed at the right time.
If you know anything more about this, do let us know in the comment section below.
Dr. Aram Baker has been with Santa Clarita Animal Hospital since 1995 and his special interests include behaviour medicine and dermatology. He graduated from the Cleveland Humanities Magnet Program in Reseda, CA and attended California State University at Northridge where he received a Bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to pursue his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. He also spent time in the zoological medicine department at U.C. Davis during his Junior and Senior years. He is dedicated to caring for all pets big or small, young or old with compassion, patience, kindness, and love.