Dog owners are awestruck looking at their dog sleeping, and it is one of the most peaceful sights that every dog owner will agree on. It is absolutely fun and entertaining to see the dogs dreaming while sleeping, but it is also concerning when your dog starts breathing fast and heavily in their sleep.
While dogs normally breathe fast and heavily when awake or asleep, there can be some concerning issues if heavy breathing continues for a long time, especially when they are sleeping because the body is at rest and no tasks are performed.
However, in most cases, the heavy breathing is caused by a dream dogs are having. It is best to seek a veterinarian’s advice to prevent any major health issues.
In this article, we will learn in detail about why dog breathes fast in sleep, how to understand if your dog is breathing too fast, the normal breathing rate in dogs, and many more things about a dog’s breathing.
So, stick with us to understand everything to detect any irregularities in the dog’s behavior. Let’s begin the read.
Why is my Dog Breathing so Fast in Sleep?
Dogs are just like toddlers, and if there are any changes in their behavior, our heart skips a beat. While sometimes breathing fast is normal in dogs, if it continues on a frequent basis, it is not a good sign.
A dog may breathe fast and heavily for various reasons; one of them certainly is when they see a specific dream of high activity or such kind, it triggers them to breathe heavily in sleep.
A dream of catching a squirrel or running after a mouse can make dogs breathe a bit faster than normal in sleep, and this certainly can not be avoided. Small puppies tend to breathe faster in their sleep more often as their dream is more fanciful when compared to adult dogs.
Puppies dreaming in their sleep is often a sight of entertainment due to their activities in sleep, which also causes their heart rate to go up.
Another reason your dog breathes fast can be because of the sleeping area or recent activity right before sleeping.
If a dog is sleeping in a place with no ventilation or air and the temperature is hot, you will see them breathing heavily. Dogs also breathe heavily if they are back from playing and go to sleep right away.
If their body temperature is too high, panting and breathing heavily is a natural way for dogs to lose heat.
3. Anxiety or Fear
They also breathe faster than normal in their sleep if they are anxious or fearful about something, and while sleeping, they retaliate to their fears and anxiety.
This is more often seen in puppies; when they are adopted and brought to the home for the first time, they are fearful of the surrounding environment and often anxious. And in some time, they adjust to their new home.
How can I Tell if my Dog is Breathing too Fast?
If you are used to seeing your dog sleep, then you will be very easily able to know if your dog is breathing too fast while sleeping. To understand the abnormalities of breathing, we first have to understand the normalcy of breathing in sleeping dogs.
If your dog is healthy and does not have any illness, then the breathing rate will be between 10 to 30 breathings every minute. This 10 to 30 breathing should be very smooth and natural without any effort or force.
If the heartbeat count exceeds 35 beats per minute while sleeping on a constant basis, then your dog is breathing heavily. A noise or forced breathing is also considered abnormal breathing, and one should immediately seek an expert’s advice.
What is a Normal Breathing Rate for a Dog?
The normal breathing rate in dogs is generally 10 to 30 breaths per minute. Dogs with no health issues generally breathe between this range.
Anything beyond 35 breaths per minute is not normal for a healthy dog. A pup may breathe from 15 to 40 breaths every minute, and it is normal for them as breathing fast in their sleep is also related to their overall development.
This breathing rate should be measured when the dog is in deep sleep, not at the time when they are dreaming, lying down, or resting. The normal breathing rate is applicable when the room temperature is moderate and not too hot or cold, as extreme temperatures can cause dogs to pant and breathe heavily.
The sleeping respiratory rate should be measured after an hour of sleep, as measuring it right after they come home from walking, eating, or engaging in physical activity will not result in accuracy, as all these activities cause fast breathing in dogs.
It is also important to know how to measure a dog’s sleeping respiratory rate. Single breathing is considered when a dog has completed inhalation (breathing in) and exhalation (breathing out) of air.
Identifying Abnormal Breathing in Dogs
There are different kinds of abnormal breathing in dogs, resulting from different activities and reasons. It is essential for a dog owner to know about these normalities as it may help prevent any health issues in dogs, as abnormal breathing is one of the first signs of many illnesses in dogs.
Some common reasons for abnormal breathing in dogs are:
1. Reverse Sneezing
This term may sound scary, but it isn’t. This is more like a honking sound, and it is more common in small breeds of dogs, like pugs. It is very momentary and is a result of inhaling a nuisance or simply being too excited about something.
2. Physical Exercise or Play
One simple reason for fast and heavy breathing in dogs is they have just been in an exercise or come out of play to sleep. This breathing is common and normal for dogs; the abnormality starts if the breathing continues for a longer period after the dog has rested.
Dogs, similar to other canines, do not want to show their pain and trouble. They do not show any emotions, and obviously, they can not speak out, but they will neither make any disruptive sounds.
When they are in pain, they have trouble breathing, and it reflects in their walking and sleeping. Abnormal breathing, along with panting, is one of the signs that your pooch is in pain.
4. Stress and Anxiety
A dog who is anxious, fearful, or even stressed will be breathing abnormally. If your dog is breathing abnormally, check for anxiety in them. Panting and abnormal breathing is one such sign of anxiety, but it is not limited to it.
Thorough monitoring of body language is required to determine if the dog is actually suffering from anxiety or not and if the panting is because of anxiety, stress, or anything else.
Suppose abnormalities in breathing are because of stress and anxiety. In that case, a dog will exhibit other signs of anxiety, such as excessive lip and paw licking and evading contact from stressing things or places.
5. Heat Stroke
Heat Stroke is one of the main reasons most dogs have difficulty breathing in the United States.
If the dog is panting when they are awake or asleep, check the room temperature and try to keep it moderate, as extremely cold or hot temperature causes panting in dogs. Avoid taking your dogs on walks in sunny or hot weather as it may cause panting and abnormal breathing.
6. Tracheal Collapse
It is a term used to describe a progressive disease of the windpipe that causes chronic coughing in dogs. Generally, small breeds of dogs are more prone to this condition; breeds like chihuahuas are known to suffer from this.
This is when the windpipe gets narrow and causes trouble breathing, needing an extra effort to inhale air, causing abnormal breathing in dogs.
7. Heart Failure
Dogs suffer from a lot of internal diseases, and one very serious disease is heart failure, which causes breathing rates in dogs.
When a dog suffers a heart attack, it has trouble pumping blood out from the body, especially the lungs, which causes the blood to jam up the blood vessels, putting definite pressure on the lungs, and a dog has to breathe to compensate for the lung function.
What do I do if my dog is Breathing Fast While Resting?
If you think your dog is breathing fast while resting, confirm your suspicions by measuring the breathing rate. If you find an increased respiratory rate in your dog while resting or sleeping, wait for your dog to wake up and closely monitor your dog for any irregular behavior.
If your dog does not show any signs of abnormality while awake, try taking another reading when your dog is resting or sleeping to confirm the increased breathing rate. If the measurement result is still the same and indicates that your dog’s breathing rate is higher than normal, then contact your vet right away.
But it is advised to check the breathing rate at least thrice to ensure a high breathing rate as they may just be excited, dreaming, or tired after a playful day.
When Should I be Worried?
Dogs are known to hide their pain and discomfort, which makes it very challenging for pet owners to detect problems early on. The moment you find your dog panting heavily or using their whole abdomen along with their entire body to breathe, you should be extremely worried.
If your dog is drooling a lot or does not want to walk or engage in activities after waking up from sleep, you should contact a veterinarian and let the vet know about the situation, as it can worsen very quickly.
Treatments for Fast Breathing in Dogs
While there are different types of treatment for fast breathing in dogs, it depends on the cause of such abnormalities in their breathing.
Visit a veterinarian after your dog has trouble breathing. The first thing a veterinarian will do is provide your dog with an oxygen cylinder to help them breathe and maintain the flow of oxygen.
Then, the vet will try to figure out the cause of such abnormal breathing, and depending upon the cause, the treatment will begin.
If your dog is having trouble breathing because of heat stroke, the doctor will try to cool the dog down. This can be done by draping a wet blanket over the dog; placing a cooling fan is another way to lower the temperature.
A vet may also give your dog a sedative to calm them down, as they can panic if they have trouble breathing, which can make breathing even harder. If the fluid is jamming up near the lung area, sedatives will also help pull it out while calming the dog.
After your dog is calm and under sedation, a vet can look up the basic cause and provide a diagnosis. Alternatively, you can make some changes in the lifestyle of your dog to help them provide ease in breathing and maintain overall health.
You can make some dietary changes in your dog’s food chart to make their meal more healthy and nutritious. This change will boost the health of your dog, preventing any future harm to the dog’s health.
Change in lifestyle, along with activity, exercise, and a well-balanced diet, will help your dog stay fit and prevent obesity in dogs. Obesity is another main reason for abnormal breathing and panting in dogs.
Dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours a day, which helps their body do all the repairing and developmental growth through sleeping needs.
Dreams and seizures may look similar, but seizures usually signal more physical strains, and reactions will also be very squeaky, whereas a dream will be more relaxed. If your dog wakes up and feels sleepy, it was probably a dream.
A healthy dog will have 10 to 30 breaths per minute. If dogs breathe in excess of 35 breaths per minute, it is not normal. A puppy will normally breathe from 15 to 40 breaths every minute.
If your dog is breathing heavily while sleeping, there may be a serious underlying issue. This article elaborated on why dog breathes fast in sleep, how to know if your dog is breathing too fast, what’s normal breathing rate in dogs and what are the solutions to such abnormal breathing. Hope it will help you!
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.