If you notice your puppy breathing fast, the good news is that there may be several benign explanations before thinking the worst. Your puppy may have playfully romped around, and working themself up or the hot weather may have caused them to pant, making them look as if they're breathing very fast. Vivid dreams may also induce rapid breathing. Knowing what's normal or not can help you recognize signs of trouble with your dog, but when in doubt, consult a veterinarian.
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Rapid breathing rate in puppies
Compared to adult dogs, a puppy's breathing rate can be slightly more elevated. So, what is a normal respiration rate for dogs? In adult dogs, the normal breathing rate is between 10 and 30 breaths per minute, whereas a puppy's normal breathing rate can be anywhere between 15 and 40 breaths per minute.
To effectively monitor your puppy's breathing rate, you can simply count their up and down chest motions when they are in a relaxed state and not actively panting. Alternatively, you can wet your finger to feel them breathing on it, or you can place a pocket mirror in front of your puppy's nose. Avoid counting your puppy's breath after exercise or when your puppy is stressed because these events can temporarily cause higher breathing rates.
Many puppies won't hold still for an entire minute to allow you to check their breathing rate. You can take a shortcut by simply counting your pup's chest motions for 15 seconds and multiply them by 4.
Panting in puppies caused by increased body temperature
When exposed to hot weather and exercise, puppies and dogs will pant with their mouths open and tongue protruding. It's normal for their breathing rate to increase drastically in an effort to cool themselves. Expect to see up to 200 pants per minute.
Once allowed to rest in a cool area, the panting episode should gradually decrease. Persistent panting without explanation may be a sign your dog is in pain, a side effect of a medication, or a sign of a fever. Seek your veterinarian for assistance.
Reasons for a puppy breathing fast during sleep
You may expect your dog's breathing rate to decrease while sleeping, but when dreaming, their breathing rate may increase. You may especially notice your puppy breathing fast while sleeping as opposed to an older dog. Puppies tend to dream a lot more compared to adult dogs, and along with breathing rapidly, they may sometimes even bark, growl, whine, twitch, and move their legs.
This tends to happen during the rapid eye movement phase, a phase during sleep when brainwaves are rapid and irregular, and dogs exhibit signs of heightened mental activity.
Rapid breathing in puppies caused by a medical condition
Not all cases of puppy rapid breathing are innocuous. Medically known as tachypnea, rapid breathing can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that warrants veterinary attention. Anemia, respiratory diseases, and heart conditions are just a few of the many possible causes of increased breathing rates in dogs.
Accompanying symptoms may include coughing, labored breathing, a bluish tint to the gums, exercise intolerance, reduced appetite, weight loss, and fatigue. See your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
It's recommended to get accustomed to your puppy's normal breathing rate. Practice counting your pup's respiratory rate at home when they are relaxed. This way, you should be able to quickly recognize when something is wrong. If you notice an increase of more than 20 percent compared to the average resting respiratory rate and your dog is not having trouble breathing or coughing, you can check again in 30 to 60 minutes. If it remains elevated, contact your veterinarian.