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Help! Why is my dog breathing fast but acting normal?

Help! Why is my dog breathing fast but acting normal?

Have you ever wondered why your dog is breathing quickly without any recent activity? Should you be concerned? Today, our Ypsilanti vets share some of the reasons why dogs breathe fast and when you should call the vet. 

Why is my dog breathing fast? Is something wrong?

To recognize if your dog is breathing strangely, you should know a normal breathing rate. A typical healthy dog will take between 15 to 35 breaths per minute while at rest. (Naturally, while exercising, your puppy will breathe much more quickly). So, anything above 40 breaths per minute while your dog is at rest is considered abnormal and certainly worth investigating.

That said, it's important to understand that panting doesn't always mean that there's a problem. Panting is your pup's way of regulating their body temperature, cooling themselves down, and allowing water and heat to evaporate from their upper respiratory tract, tongue, and mouth.

Dogs can't sweat, so panting helps them regulate their body temperature and return to normal. 

How can I tell if my dog is breathing too fast?

To tell if your dog is breathing abnormally fast, count your dog's breaths for a minute while they are resting or sleeping. (You may even want to do this when you are not concerned in order to have a clear understanding of your pet's normal respiratory rate). Anything under 30 breaths per minute is considered normal. Anything above 35 may be a cause for concern and is worth contacting your vet over. Your vet will have a good understanding of your dog's normal respiratory rate from previous examinations.

Why is my dog breathing fast?

Brachycephalic dog breeds (breeds with 'squished faces' or shortened snouts), such as  Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs, face a higher risk of developing breathing issues and should always be closely monitored by pet owners for signs of increased respiratory effort.

If your dog is breathing rapidly, it could be a sign of a health problem, and you should seek veterinary help. Some reasons for fast breathing in dogs include:

  • Asthma
  • Lung Diseases such as cancer
  • Exercise
  • Kennel Cough
  • Laryngeal Paralysis
  • Windpipe Issues
  • Bacterial Respiratory Infection
  • Fungal Respiratory Infection
  • Pressure on the Windpipe
  • Stiffening of Airways
  • Smoke Inhalation
  • Breed Characteristics
  • Pain
  • Parasites
  • Pneumonia
  • Compressed Lungs
  • Hernia
  • Heat Stroke
  • Anemia
  • Nausea
  • Collapsing Windpipe
  • Medication

When should I contact my vet about my dog's breathing? 

If you notice that your dog is breathing fast while at rest or breathing fast while sleeping, they could be experiencing respiratory distress. Contact your vet if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Noticeably labored breathing (engaging stomach muscles to help breathe)
  • Pale, blue-tinged, or brick-red gums
  • Reluctance to drink, eat, or move
  • Open-mouthed breathing while at rest
  • Out-of-character drooling
  • Heavy, fast breathing that's louder or different sounding than normal panting

How will the vet diagnose the cause of my dog's fast breathing?

Your vet will give your dog a thorough check-up to determine if the breathing problem is related to heart circulation, lungs, airway, neck, head, or other areas. Your pet's overall general health condition may also be causing an issue.

Your vet will need to know about any previous medical issues that your puppy has experienced and may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check the heart, lungs, and abdomen for issues such as lung tumors or broken ribs. 

The veterinarian also looks for signs of anxiety, stress, or other emotional factors that could make your dog breathe quickly. 

How is fast breathing in dogs treated?

Ultimately, the underlying cause of your dog's breathing difficulties will determine the best treatment. Your vet may prescribe pain relief, intravenous fluids, or other pain medications to help restore your dog to good health.

Special training with a certified dog behaviorist may be recommended if your dog is breathing fast due to stress or anxiety.

Your dog may need rest and oxygen therapy to recover. While most dogs can be treated at home, sever cases might need hospital care for monitoring and treatment of the health issues. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned about your dog's fast breathing? Contact our local vet in Ypsilanti for urgent vet care for your pup.

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