Breathing Fast While Resting in Dogs

Why is my dog breathing fast while resting?

Most common conditions

Heart Disease / Anemia / Heart Failure

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Rated as moderate conditon

45 Veterinary Answers

Most common conditions

Heart Disease / Anemia / Heart Failure

Why is my dog breathing fast while resting?

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What is Breathing Fast While Resting?

Many factors control fast breathing in dogs, and sometimes the underlying problem can be life threatening, especially when your dog is at rest.  Excessive and rapid breathing while resting is called tachypnea and may be a symptom of the following medical conditions:

  • Heat stroke
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Heart failure
  • Anemia
  • Onion poisoning

The severity of your dog’s tachypnea will depend on the underlying condition causing him to breathe fast.  It is important to bring your dog to the veterinarian to determine how serious the threat is and how to treat rapid breathing best.

Why Breathing Fast While Resting Occurs in Dogs

There may be several reasons why your dog is breathing fast while at rest.  If he has just finished playing hard and is taking a rest, it is normal for him to pant or breathe rapidly for a few minutes.  However, if he does not settle his breathing or breathes fast without exerting himself, there may be an underlying medical reason.

Heat Stroke

Dogs do not have sweat glands and use their breathing as a means to cool themselves off.  When they become overheated, they will breathe rapidly and excessively. Signs of heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, include elevated body temperatures of 104F or higher, drooling, weakness, and seizures. Dogs who have flat faces, such as Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, and Bull Mastiffs are at increased risk of heat stroke because they cannot pant as effectivity.  

Fluid in the Lungs

Rapid breathing in your dog may also indicate he has fluid in his lungs.  Though a small amount of fluid is usually present in a dog's lungs, excessive build up can become a serious health concern and may indicate other underlying medical conditions.  Other symptoms, such as blue-colored gums, low body temperature, and difficulty breathing may also accompany fast breathing.    

Heart Failure

Rapid breathing may be a response to congestive heart failure.  When a dog's heart starts to fail his body is not circulating enough oxygen, and rapid breathing develops to counteract the lower levels of oxygen in circulation.  Breathing will be labored as well, and your dog may show an increased intolerance for exercise.

Anemia

Anemia can occur when your dog's immune system attacks red blood cells as if they are a foreign threat.  A lower red blood cell count means less oxygen is in circulation, and your dog's body may react by increasing respiration.  Other common symptoms of anemia include weakness, jaundice, pale gums, and lethargy.  Certain breeds are predisposed to develop anemia, such as Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Shih Tzus.  Additionally, tick-borne infectious diseases have been associated with immune-related anemia.    

Onion Poisoning

A dog's diet plays a huge role in their health and feeding him table scraps meant for human consumption can have negative impacts.  Onions, when consumed in quantity, can cause fast breathing in your dog. Your dog may also excessively salivate, vomit, or have diarrhea. Garlic is an even more potent a poison than onions and should be avoided as well.

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What to do if your Dog is Breathing Fast While Resting

It is critical that you seek medical help if you have determined your dog is not breathing fast due to recently exerting himself and that he may be suffering from a medical condition.  Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency care.  If you believe your dog is experiencing heat stroke, take him to the hospital immediately.  While in transport, make efforts to cool your dog down using a wet, lukewarm towel and moving air.  If possible, record your dog's temperature every five minutes while in transport.  

Once at the hospital, the veterinarian will work to stabilize your dog's respiration and lower his body temperature.  In severe cases, your dog may have to be intubated to assist with respiration and fluid therapy is administered for stabilization.  Antibiotics may be given to prevent sepsis from bacteria if your dog is vomiting or has bloody diarrhea.  Heat stroke is a serious illness that requires immediate, early, and aggressive treatment to save your dog from organ and system failure.

Even if you do not suspect heat stroke, you should still take your dog to the veterinarian to determine why your dog is breathing fast.  Your vet will perform a physical examination and ask you when you first noticed signs of rapid breathing.  The vet will also ask for a full medical history including your dog's diet and any medications he is taking.  

Your veterinarian will listen to your dog's heart and lungs.  The vet may order chest X-rays if he suspects heart or lung issues as well as an electrocardiogram to measure the electrical activity of your dog's heart.        

If you suspect or know your dog has eaten onions or garlic your veterinarian may induce vomiting in your dog or administer charcoal for absorption.  In severe cases, your vet may provide oxygen therapy and a blood transfusion to make up for the reduction of red blood cells as toxicosis from onions can cause anemia.

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Prevention of Breathing Fast While Resting

You may not be able to prevent heart failure in your dog as he ages, but it is important to recognize the early signs of failure so you can make lifestyle adjustments and prevent further complications.  Heat stroke, on the other hand, is entirely preventable.

Heat stroke can quickly escalate and be deadly for your dog.  To prevent suffering from heat stroke, make sure your dog has adequate water and shade while outside and only exercise him during the cooler parts of the day.  Closed in vehicles, even with windows cracked, can become extremely hot.  Never leave your dog alone in a closed vehicle.

Dog food is designed specifically for your dog, while your leftovers were made for human consumption.  Be extremely careful when feeding your dog table scraps as onions and garlic are toxic to your dog.  Though dogs do not like the taste of onion and garlic plants, keep the raw food items out of reach.  Over consumption of either can become deadly when consumed.

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Cost of Breathing Fast While Resting

The cost of treating fast breathing in your dog depends on the underlying medical condition.  For example, it can cost around $950 to treat onion poisoning whereas it can cost around $5,000 to treat heat stroke.

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Breathing Fast While Resting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Havanese

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

My dog is breathing very fast while he lays down

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If your dog is breathing heavily while laying down, he should probably be seen by a veterinarian right away. There may be a heart or lung problem, and without seeing your dog there is no way that I can see what might be going on. I hope that your dog is okay.

Aug. 5, 2020

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German Shepherd

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Heavy And Fast Breathing

What do I do? Breathing fast and noisy, seems like he is struggling

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If he is struggling to breathe, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian right away. This is likely an emergency, and he may have a problem with his lungs or heart and need treatment. I hope that he is okay.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Lab mix

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2-3

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Breathing When Sleeping

I am fostering a dog and it seems like his muzzle has been broke in the past. He has a scar and it looks kind of crooked. He doesn’t have a whole lot of energy and when he’s sleeping his breathing is rapid and his whole chest moves. He also sighs a lot.

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello I see that you are concerned about your pet's breathing. Typically, if a dog is in respiratory distress, they are awake and struggling to breathe. You may notice coughing or gasping. If your pup is sleeping, that means he is relaxed enough to be breathing normally without struggle. If you still continue to be concerned, you can take him to a veterinarian for an exam. Good luck.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Shih Tzu

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16 & 7 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Labored Breahing

Unsettled, with small whimpers. Labored breathing,

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your dog is not feeling well. If you are noticing labored breathing and your dog is whining or whimpering, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian right away. They may have a heart or lung condition, and they may need treatment for that. A veterinarian would be able to look at them, listen to their heart and lungs and assess them, and get any medications needed so that they feel better. I hope that all goes well with your dog.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Pomeranian Spitz

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Heavy Breathing

My dog has been throwing up at least twice today, and is now breathing heavily. What’re some possible diagnoses?

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello Vomiting can be due to an infection, gastrointestinal upset or a blockage. I recommend that you take your pet to a veterinarian for an exam. They may want to perform diagnostic tests like labwork and x-rays, and give something to stop the vomiting. Good luck.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Blue

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German Shepherd

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Rapid Breathing

My dog Blue started limping for a few days and then was back to her normal playful self for weeks. She has done this for the past couple weeks. Now the past two days she started limping again. This time she is very lethargic and breathing rapidly . Any suggestions? We are having some financial troubles and really don't need a big vet bill.

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Gizmo

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Shitzu

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Panting
Panting Heavy Breathing

My dog, Gizmo, is a 10 year old male Shitzu. He has been panting and breathing pretty fast and just looks like he straining with each breath. He’s always snored and made snorting noises but this is definitely not usual. He’s eating g and drinking ok and also want to add he’s overweight. I took him to the vet and they did xrays and bloodwork and everything g has come back normal. His lungs are a little inflamed so she put him on prednisone and a bronchodilator I guess to treat COPD. She said he may not have it but if the symptoms go away while taking these meds and after he’s finished the symptoms come back then he probably has COPD. It’s been 2 days and 3 doses in and his breathing still bad. Mostly at night. What should I do? I’m so worried about him especially being overweight and 10 years old.

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Luna

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Border Collie

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9 Weeks

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

We barley got a new puppy then we noticed she started breathing really fast and heavy she also started to yawn and when she s sleeping she still does it but slowed down a little

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daisy

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Shepherd mix

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Irregular Breathing
Breathing Fast

I just noticed that my dogs breathing was a bit faster than usual, and it seems like she is having to work harder to breathe. Her affect seems fine though, eating treats, responding with alertness and wagging her tail when I say her name. she doesn't look like she is in pain, although yesterday she did have an anal gland expression (which she has never needed before) and her glands were impacted. she had discomfort about a week before the expression but was better after. but again i am worried if I should take her to an emergency ER, or if I am being completely dramatic. I am a bit of a helicopter mom, so any noticeable change is something I worry about.

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Nugget

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French Bulldog

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bronchitis
Rapid Breaching

My 24lbs dog has been breathing fast in the midnight around 2am the last 2days (not in the afternoon or night) It was 50breathes/min. She stops breathing fast if I wake her up but I'm still worried. Right now she is taking cortisone, antibiotic, cough suppressant & opening airway meds to treat bronchitis. Vet listened to her heart & said heart sound is good. So why is she breathing fast? She doesn't cough anymore after taking meds & besides breathing fast in the midnight, she eats, plays, and poops well.

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