When you see a dog panting or breathing really fast you will be worried. The truth is, sometimes this is a problem and sometimes is not. A dog breathing fast but acting normal means that the pet doesn’t have additional issues that will cause other symptoms. Here you need to understand the topic and the basics first. We will explain all of those and common causes and specifics. Yes, we will explain when you need to take him to a vet.
Understanding Healthy Breathing
How can you tell that your pet is breathing too fast? Dogs use this process to cool down themselves so if he is active, he will breathe faster. A dog breathing fast but acting normal issues start with some basics. You need to calculate how many breaths are in one minute. An average dog will have between 15 and 35. This is when he rests. When a dog is active, he will breathe faster meaning there will be more breaths in one minute.
It is advised to measure the number of breaths in one minute when your pet is healthy, resting, and doesn’t have any problems. This is a base number and you will use it later. The next time you count more breaths in one minute, it means that your pet is breathing faster than normal. In a nutshell, dogs who have 35-40 breaths above normal, are breathing fast.
Dog owners can notice additional symptoms if their dog breathes too fast. These are actually easy to notice and with the increased count of breath per minute, you can be positive that he is breathing fast. The symptoms are:
- Louder breathing
- Red or pale gums
- He will breathe with an open mouth
- Stomach muscles move to help with breathing
- Won’t or will move solely
As always, your particular pet may have all of these symptoms. He may have just 1 or 2. One way or another this means that your pet is at risk and he may have some health issue that causes fast breathing.
Here’s What You Should Do
The first thing to do is to count the number of breaths per minute. Look for the symptoms from above as well. If your dog is still breathing fast after 5-10 minutes, take him to a vet. As you can assume, this means that there is some problem causing him to breathe too fast and you won’t be able to solve it at home.
Try to remember that dogs will breathe too fast when they are hot. They use this method to cool down the body hence this is normal. You may want to help him to cool down. Provide him fresh water, keep your pet in a room where the temperature is lower, and things like that. You don’t need to take him to a vet when the temperature outside is very high.
But, if your pet is breathing too fast when he is in a cool room and he has signs you can see above this section, it means that the outside temperature is not the cause here!
When a dog is breathing too fast and there are other signs present, this is an emergency. On the other hand, if your pet is breathing too fast but there are no other signs, your vet will probably recommend you monitor his behavior for a few days. If the issue remains present, you may have to take him again.
Why My Dog Breathes Too Fast
There are a lot of reasons for this. As you shall see, some are severe, others are harmless, and third are unlikely to ever happen to your dog. The problem here is that some are hard to diagnose or can be mixed with others due to the same or very similar symptoms. Anyway, the most common causes are:
- Kennel Cough
- Trachea problems
- Pressure applied to the windpipe
- Collapsing trachea
- Lung diseases
- Compressed lungs
- Laryngeal Paralysis
These are a bit more severe issues and they will always require professional help. But, there are more causes that are less severe and in some cases obvious. For instance, your pet may breathe too fast due to exercise, certain medications he needs, pain, nausea, smoke inhalation, and even when the temperature is high. One tip you can use to make a clear difference between these two types is additional symptoms. The first group always comes with additional symptoms or signs if you like. These last longer and you will have a pet who is unhappy and even in pain. On the other hand, the second type of causes are less-severe and they can last for a couple of minutes. These don’t always need professional help.
A good thing here is that your pet does have a lot of options. For instance, he can get pain relief medication. A vet may prescribe IV fluids or other medications. This will depend on the main cause. Your vet will examine the dog first. He must determine where the issue comes from. Is it from the heart, lungs, neck, nose, head, or somewhere else? X-ray is usually one of many procedures vets use. Still, oxygen and rest are almost always present.
Stress and anxiety can cause fast breathing in dogs. There are no a lot of treatments here. Your vet may give your pet certain medicine for treating the anxiety. But proper training is always a better option. With most dogs, a certified dog behaviorist will help you.
The Final Word
A dog breathing fast but acting normal is not something that will never happen to your pet. It is a very common problem and one that will scare a lot of owners. Keep in mind that you must follow his condition and determine the cause. Then, take him to a vet. Luckily treatments can help and it is possible that your pet doesn’t need one. Actually, it is an extremely common thing.
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