Rapid breathing in dogs is most often normal. As with humans, there are situations in which dogs breathe faster: sport, heat … Breathing can more rarely be the sign of an illness such as a respiratory condition for example.
What is fast breathing in dogs?
A respiratory cycle is made up of inspiration and expiration. The respiratory rate corresponds to the number of respiratory cycles per minute.
The dogs’ normal respiratory rate is between 14 and 22 movements per minute. A dog breathes quickly when his respiratory rate is greater than 22 movements per minute.
There are several types of rapid breathing depending on the range of breathing movements:
- Polypnea: respiratory movements are superficial
- Tachypnea: range of breathing movements is normal
- Hyperpnea: the range of breathing movements is increased
The normal respiratory rate for humans in adulthood is 12 to 20 movements per minute. Since dogs’ normal respiratory rate is close to that of humans, breathing with your pet can be helpful in determining how fast he or she is breathing.
When is rapid breathing normal?
Most of the time, rapid breathing is normal in dogs: when fever, when it does hot, during a intense physical activity, after a period ofexcitation, of Game, etc…
Dogs do not sweat, they have very few sweat glands. They mainly regulate their body temperature by panting, their breathing is then faster. This is what happens when they get too hot or have a fever. The respiratory rate quickly returns to normal when the dog is calm in a sufficiently cool room.
Dogs can also breathe quickly while they dream. This can be associated with moans, paw movements, etc.
Warning : dogs are very sensitive to heat, they can get heatstroke. Polypnea (rapid breathing) then turns into dyspnea (breathing difficulties). Dogs of brachycephalic, overweight, etc … breeds are particularly sensitive. Do not hesitate to read our fact sheet on heat stroke in dogs for more information.
When should you worry?
Rapid breathing is abnormal if the animal:
- has other associated symptoms: throwing, coughing, breathing rattle …
- can’t seem to catch my breath
- often have rapid breathing (for example, when walking
- breathe quickly for a long time for no apparent reason (dog at rest)
Some respiratory conditions can lead to rapid breathing: diaphragmatic hernia, pulmonary edema, pleural disease, etc.
Fast breathing in dogs can also be due to something other than a respiratory condition: obesity, heart failure, nervous affection, anemia, intoxication with anticoagulant rodenticides … stress and the pain in dogs can also lead to an increase in respiratory rate.
In this case, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian : a clinical examination and if necessary additional examinations will determine why the animal breathes quickly.