Is My Dog Breathing Fast?

Tachypnea is a medical term, which refers to shallow and fast breathing in pooches. If you have spent time around pooches, you will know they sometimes breathe very fast. These can affect any canine, no matter what age it is, breed, or size.

To understand whether your canine has the condition, you must distinguish between normal and abnormal panting.

Breathing fast can be normal, especially on a hot day or after exercise. But if your canine is breathing fast, hard (without an obvious cause), it may be due to a medical issue.

Here is everything you need to know when you’re thinking, ‘is my dog breathing fast’, and when to worry.

Normal breathing in pooches

To figure out what fast and hard breathing is for your canine, you’ve to know the normal respiratory rate.

Generally, pooches have a normal respiratory rate somewhere between 10 to 35 breathes per minute. When they are breathing normally, they won’t appear anxious, and breathing will be easy.

It is essential to understand each dog breed and dog is different. And so, what is normal may be a bit different for another canine. Pay attention to your fur friend’s normal breathing to know when he has developed a breathing issue.

Abnormal and normal panting

Hard and fast breathing in canines is a common occurrence. But there is a big difference between abnormal and normal panting.

Abnormal breathing can indicate an emotional or physical issue. Normal panting, on the other hand, occurs when the pooch’s body is overheating. It is an entirely healthy and normal reaction, which helps to reduce the canine’s temperature. And it goes back to normal when the pooch relaxes and cools down.

If you aren’t sure if the heavy, fast breathing is more serious or temporary, check out these common signs:

Abnormal breathing happens when:

  • Your pooch is not warm and does not need temperature regulation.
  • If the sound of your dog’s breathing is a bit louder than usual.
  • The dog seems to be struggling with its breathing.

If you spot the above signs, consider visiting the vet immediately, and get a check-up.

Reasons why your fur companion is breathing fast

Let us discover some of the most common causes of panting and breathing fast. They include:

Overheating\ heatstroke

Heatstroke is a life-threatening and serious condition. It can happen if you walk your dog on an extremely hot day or leave it in a closed vehicle. Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Body temperature above 40 °C
  • Excessive salivation
  • Increased distress and heart rate
  • Collapse
  • Bright purple or red-looking gums

Heat exhaustion can result in kidney damage, ulcers, seizures, brain swelling, body cells dying. If you think your fur companion is suffering from heat exhaustion, see the vet immediately.


Breathing fast after exercising is a normal way for canines to cool themselves off. Dogs don’t sweat; instead, they pant.

So, if your pooch is panting heavily after playing or running, she will have a happy or content look.

Breed predisposition

Pooch breathing heavily, or even shallow and fast, is normal in Brachycephalic breeds. Brachycephalic breeds include French Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs. They have narrow windpipes and short noses, meaning they often have breathing problems.

You must understand these dog breeds don’t have a normal breathing rhythm for you to take the necessary precautions.


Emotions and intense feelings can cause hard panting in canines, especially when anxious or afraid. But even positive forms of excitement and happy emotions can cause a pooch to pants fast.


Pain is another primary cause of fast panting and breathing in dogs. Pooches panting heavily and experiencing lots of pain will look restless. Some of the conditions, which can cause pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Abdominal pain
  • Orthopedic conditions
  • Cancer

Also, if you see your dog licking himself or barking a lot all over a sudden, he might be in pain.

Obese or overweight

Being obese or overweight can cause your canine to breathe heavily. It takes the dog extra effort to move around. The pooch can also develop lung problems because of being obese or overweight.


Older canines may pant heavily or breathe harder. Just like humans, pooches can develop circulation and lung issues as they age. It makes it harder for them to oxygenate their blood and to breathe.

Ingestion of poisons

Without a doubt, dogs can chew almost anything. But it is extremely dangerous since they can chew something toxic like human medication. Cleaning products and forbidden food are also good examples of toxic and poisonous things. Clinical signs may include:

  • Increased heart rate and breathing rate
  • Dullness
  • Excessive salvation

To prevent such happening, you’ve to teach your fur friend what is forbidden. Also, consider hiding toxic things in the house.

Metabolic disorder

Cushing’s disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is a metabolic disorder, which can cause panting. The disorder is due to the adrenal glands excreting too much cortisol hormone. The hormone has many crucial functions in a dog’s body. However, too much of it can cause issues.
Symptoms may include:

  • Hair loss
  • Loss of body muscle
  • Skin change
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive panting

If you see the above signs, visit the vet. Heart disease, Anemia, lung disease, Laryngeal Paralysis, Tick-borne illness, milk fever, and acid-base disorders can also cause heavy panting.

Accidents or traumas

Injured dogs often breathe harder than normal. It can be a combination of shock, pain, or\and direct injury to the lungs or airways.

When canines are under shock, their blood flow and blood pressure drop too low levels. It makes the body’s need for oxygen a bit higher. And as a result, they begin breathing faster.


Fast breathing can be an indication of an underlying issue or can be normal. If the dog is breathing fast for the purpose of body temperature regulation, it can be healthy.

But, if it occurs without an obvious cause, consider visiting your vet. If you notice signs of abnormal breathing, also see the vet immediately.

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