If you have recently got a puppy, it is pretty normal for you to feel concerned about any possible symptoms that they might show at any particular moment.
In today’s article, we’re looking at several reasons why puppies can breathe faster than normal and also noting which of these instances are perfectly normal and which ones should convince you to take your pooch to the vet clinic.
Do puppies breathe faster than adults?
The short answer to this question is yes. Puppies do tend to breathe faster compared to their adult counterparts, and they have a breathing rate between 15 and 40 breaths per minute.
By comparison, adults take 10 to 30 breaths per minute, but in some situations, such as those involving intense physical exercise, they can end up taking as many as 100 to 200 breaths per minute.
Therefore, the easiest way to tell whether your puppy is breathing normally would be to use a timer and count down the number of times they take a breath over a period of one minute. Do keep in mind that just as with adults, if you’ve recently taken your puppy for a run or a hike, they might be tired, so they might breathe faster than normal.
Why is my puppy breathing fast?
Intense exercise is a perfectly normal cause of fast breathing in puppies, but there are other cases where it can also happen physiologically. As you probably know, if you have had a dog before, our canine friends sometimes tend to get very excited for various reasons.
For example, puppies can be over the moon when they see their owners again, such as when they come back from work. They can also get very excited when meeting other puppies (or other animals, for that matter) for the first time.
Quick breathing is also normal when your puppy might be scared, such as when you take them to the animal hospital. In fact, this can make it challenging for a vet to listen to your dog’s lungs or hear their heartbeat properly as they might be hyperventilating because of fear.
When they sleep, some puppies might dream that they are in potentially dangerous situations or interacting with other animals, and they could live the experience as if it were real, therefore breathing faster than normal.
We’d also like to note that brachycephalic breeds such as Boxers, Boston Terriers, Chow Chows, Bullmastiffs, or Bulldogs are more likely to breathe faster than their counterparts, and they do this physiologically.
Conditions that make a puppy breathe fast
Now that we’ve eliminated most of the normal reasons why this can happen, let’s look at several pathological causes that can make a pup breathe fast.
If your dog has anemia, parasites, or other types of diseases that they haven’t received treatment for, they will have to breathe faster in order to ensure a quicker metabolism, one that puts up with the abuse of whatever’s going on in their body.
Needless to say, quick breathing or panting can be caused by respiratory conditions such as lung edema or pneumonia, as well as choking. There are also some canine infectious diseases that can cause panting, such as kennel cough.
Other possible causes are listed below:
- Heart conditions
When should you go to the vet?
If you know for sure that your pup has recently engaged in intense physical exercise and they are now breathing fast, you probably have nothing to worry about – especially if you take them to the vet regularly and know that they aren’t suffering from any disease.
But if your dog is showing any of the following clinical signs, you should ensure that you get to the vet clinic as soon as possible:
- Changes in the way your puppy’s gums look (bright red or blue)
- Open-mouthed breathing even when they aren’t doing anything
- Excess drooling
- Lethargy or lack of appetite for water or food
How can vets tell the cause of your puppy’s rapid breathing rate?
When you get to the animal hospital, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, followed by some tests such as regular blood tests (CBC and biochemistry).
Some special ones such as imaging like X-rays might be necessary if the vet discovers something suspicious while listening to your dog’s breathing (lungs and trachea) with a stethoscope.
Your vet will also ask a lot of questions about how your dog’s day was or how they behaved in the past few days so as to find out whether they might have ingested something toxic or something else might have happened recently.
Are there any treatments?
Yes, but it all depends on the diagnosis. Once the primary cause is determined, the vet can administer the appropriate medication.
However, since some dogs can experience such labored breathing that their entire health status might be at risk, they will receive some drugs such as bronchodilators or they will be put on oxygen therapy.
If pneumonia is at the root of the problem, they will have to be given antibiotics as well as medications that can allow them to eliminate the secretions that they might have in their lungs or trachea.
If you see your puppy breathing fast and you suspect that something is wrong, the best piece of advice we have for you is to seek out veterinary assistance as soon as possible.