Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Excessive Panting in Dogs

Identifying excessive dog panting can be difficult. Veterinarians on our Portland site describe the signs of excessive panting that suggest an underlying issue with your pet.

Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast?

It's important to know what a healthy respiratory rate for a dog is in order to identify abnormal breathing. An average healthy dog should take 15 to 35 breaths per minute when resting, although this will naturally be faster while exercising. If a dog is taking more than 40 breaths per minute while resting, it's considered abnormal and should be investigated.

It's worth noting that panting isn't always a bad thing. Panting helps regulate a dog's body temperature by allowing water and heat to evaporate from the tongue, mouth, and upper respiratory tract. Unlike humans, dogs don't sweat to cool down; instead, they need to breathe rapidly to circulate air efficiently through their body. Rapid breathing helps a dog's body return to a normal temperature.

How To Tell The Difference Between Panting and Excessive Panting

To check whether your dog is breathing too quickly, you can count their respiratory rate while they are sleeping or resting. It's a good practice to do this when you're not worried, so you have an idea of what's normal for your pet. A respiratory rate under 30 breaths per minute is considered normal, while anything above 35 is a cause for concern.

Reasons Why Dogs Pant Excessively

If you notice your pet breathing rapidly, it could be an indication that your dog is suffering from an illness or injury. It is highly recommended to take your furry friend to the veterinarian as soon as possible for evaluation.

Breathing issues are more common in dog breeds with 'squished faces' or shortened snouts such as Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs. As a responsible pet parent, it is essential to monitor these breeds for any signs of breathing difficulties closely.

Some potential causes of fast or heavy breathing in dogs include:

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

When Is Excessive Panting An Emergency

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

  • Engaging stomach muscles to help with breathing
  • Reluctance to drink, eat or move
  • Pale, blue-tinged, or brick-red gums
  • Uncharacteristic drooling
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Heavy, fast breathing that’s louder or different sounding than normal panting

Diagnosing Excessive Panting

When you take your dog to the vet for breathing problems, the vet will perform a thorough physical examination to determine the root cause. The problem could be related to the heart, circulatory system, lungs, airway, neck, head or other areas.

Additionally, the overall health condition of your pet could also be contributing to the issue. It's important to inform the vet about any previous medical issues your pet has experienced.

The vet may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check for issues like broken ribs or lung tumors. Psychological factors such as anxiety and stress will also be assessed, as these could be causing fast breathing in your dog.

Treatment Options

The underlying cause will determine treatment for your dog's fast breathing. Your vet may prescribe pain relief, intravenous fluids with calcium, or other medications.

If your pet's rapid breathing is caused by stress or anxiety, special training with a certified dog behaviorist may be required. Regardless of the cause of your pet's breathing difficulties, rest and oxygen therapy will likely be needed.

While many dogs can be treated at home, some serious cases may require hospitalization to monitor breathing and treat the underlying cause.

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.

Is your dog panting excessively? Contact our Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital vets today for a consultation.

New Patients Welcome

Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Portland companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (503) 644-3101

Open Modal