It can be quite concerning if your dog is panting or breathing very fast at an excessive rate. Today, our Franklin vets explain the causes of excessive panting in dogs, as well as its symptoms, treatment options, and when it is time to see the vet.
Excessive Panting in Dogs
To be able to spot your dog's abnormal breathing, we will need to understand what a healthy rate of breathing is for your pup. An average and healthy dog will generally take between 15 and 35 breaths per minute if they are resting (this will vary amongst different dog breeds). While exercising, your pup will breathe quite a bit faster than that.
Anything more than 40 breaths per minute while your dog is resting is faster than normal and may warrant investigation.
All of that being said, it is important for dog owners to keep in mind that not all panting is bad for their dogs. Panting is your pup's way of regulating their body temperature, cooling them down while allowing water and heat to evaporate from their body through their tongue, their mouth, and their upper respiratory tract.
Unlike people, your pup doesn't sweat to cool down, instead, they need to breathe fast to allow air to circulate efficiently through the body. Rapid breathing allows a dog’s body to get back to a normal temperature.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Breathing Too Fast
The figure out whether or not your dog is breathing abnormally fast, just count your dog's respiratory rate while they are resting or sleeping. It can be a good call to do so when you aren't concerned about your dog, to gain a better understanding of what your p[et's normal breathing rate is. Anything below 30 breaths per minute is considered normal, while anything above that may be a cause for concern.
Causes of Excessive Panting in Dogs
Your pet's rapid breathing may also be an indicator that your pup is suffering from an injury or an illness affecting their respiratory system or another part of their body. If this is the case, you should bring your dog to your vet as soon as you can.
Breeds of dogs with flat faces, squished snouts, or shorter snouts like pugs, boxers, and Boston terriers can all be more prone to breathing issues than dogs with longer snouts. They should be monitored closely by their owners for signs of issues and breathing difficulties.
Some potential causes of fast or heavy breathing in dogs include:
- Compressed lungs
- Breed characteristics
- Kennel cough
- Windpipe issues
- Laryngeal paralysis
- Pressure on the windpipe
- Bacterial respiratory infection
- Fungal respiratory infection
- Lung diseases (such as cancer)
- Collapsing windpipe
When You Should Be Concerned
If your dog is breathing faster than normal while they sleep, it may be experiencing respiratory distress. Contact your vet if you notice any of the following signs in your dog:
- Reluctance to drink, eat or move
- Pale, blue-tinged, or brick red gums
- Engaging stomach muscles to aid breathing
- Open-mouthed breathing
- Uncharacteristic drooling
- Heavy/fast breathing (louder or different than usual)
Diagnosing the Cause of Excessive Panting
Your vet will be able to perform a comprehensive examination on your pup to determine what the issues they are experiencing may be. Your pet's heart, lungs, airway, neck, or other internal organs may be causing their distress. Your pet's overall condition may also be causing the health issue.
Your vet needs to know about any previous medical issues that your pet has experienced and may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check the heart, lungs, and abdomen for issues such as broken ribs or lung tumors.
Your vet will also check for signs of anxiety, stress, or other psychological factors which may be influencing your pup's breathing.
Treatment for Excessive Panting
Treatment for abnormally fast breathing in dogs will be determined by their underlying cause. Your vet may prescribe pain relief, intravenous fluids, or other medications to help combat the underlying cause of your pet's breathing issues.
If your pet's rapid breathing is caused by stress or anxiety, special training with a certified dog behaviorist may be required.
Rest and oxygen therapy may be required for your pet, regardless of the underlying cause.
While most dogs will be well enough to be treated at home, in some serious cases hospitalization may be required to monitor the dog's breathing, and to treat the underlying cause.