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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.  You should definitely be watchful if your pup has a breathing rate over 30 breaths a minute, because this is considered too fast. Excessive and rapid breathing while resting is called tachypnea and may be a symptom of the following medical conditions:

    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.

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    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 103F 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 can also quicken due to fluid build-up on the lungs and compression of the lungs due to an enlarged liver and/or fluid in the abdomen. Dogs with heart failure often have a persistent cough. 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, or experience blood loss, or when the bone marrow is not making red blood cells as it should.  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 due to them causing haemolytic anaemia. 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.

    Lung Disease
    Diseases of the upper and lower respiratory tract can result in faster breathing. Conditions such as tracheal collapse, laryngeal paralysis, bronchitis, lungworm, pneumothorax and pneumonia would all need to be considered. 

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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 echocardiogram to assess the heart structure and check for fluids on the lungs.  

    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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    Written by Darlene Stott

    Veterinary reviewed by:

    Published: 07/23/2017, edited: 03/11/2021

    Breathing Fast While Resting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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    Labrador Retriever

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    Rapid Breathing

    My dog over the last few days has been about 40 breathes per minute while resting. She’s also seemed anxious and there has been another dog around because I’m dog sitting so she’s seemd a bit anxious and restless as well

    May 16, 2021

    Owner

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    Dr. Gina U. DVM

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    3 Recommendations

    Hi there As I mentioned, her breathing rate is normal. If she is coughing heavily, gasping or panting, seek veterinary care immediately. Otherwise, have her seen next week. Good luck.

    May 16, 2021

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    Fast Breathing

    Pup’s RR is ~80 breaths/min (closed mouth). He is resting, has not recently exercised. Otherwise appears normal.

    March 13, 2021

    Owner

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    Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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    This is very fast, even for a pup. We may see a temporary increase in resp rate while sleeping (due to REM / dreams) but a continuous fast resp rate for no apparent reason needs urgent veterinary investigation.

    March 14, 2021

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    My dog is lying down but breathing fast and panting, why?

    Jan. 28, 2021

    Owner

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    Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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    19 Recommendations

    This is a concern and could be caused by many things including pain, stress, heart disease, lung disease, a toxicity etc. You should have your dog checked over by a vet right away.

    Jan. 28, 2021

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    Grunt

    My puppy somehow got stuck behind something yesterday & we got him out ASAP. I don’t feel any broken rips, nor is he in pain. He is laying down a lot (with his belly under him on the floor and his head on floor) but he isn’t sleepy nor unable to respond. He is doing slightly shallow breaths & once in awhile a soft grunt. He is drinking water. He gets up and walks around. He pees fine. Last night and this morning he did have a grey/grease bowl movement, but after that was a soft stool today. He doesn’t really want to eat, but he did nibble on some chicken (not force fed. He smelled it & came)

    Oct. 14, 2020

    Owner

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    Dr. Michele K. DVM

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    Thank you for your question. I hope that he is feeling better. If he is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

    Oct. 14, 2020

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    Breathing Heavily Keeping Mouth Open

    Why would my dog be breathing heavily and keeping his mouth open not very playful

    Sept. 29, 2020

    Owner

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    Dr. Michele K. DVM

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    5 Recommendations

    Thank you for your question. If your dog is breathing heavily and breathing through his mouth, and is lethargic, it would be best to have him seen as soon as possible by a veterinarian. He may have a heart or lung condition that needs treatment. They will be able to examine him, see what might be going on, and let you know if any treatment is needed. I hope that he is okay.

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    Blue

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    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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    Panting
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    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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    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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    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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    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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