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

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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.

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.

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.

Cannanine

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

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Lily

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Havanese/maltese

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6 Months

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

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Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Rapid Breathing

I adopted a havanese maltese mixed puppy about 2 months ago. She is extremely active, energetic, playful, and happy. She seems healthy. She eats and drinks well. She is now 6 months old and has started losing her baby teeth. I have noticed that regardless of if she is sleeping, resting, or playing, her breathing rate is always fast. 60-80 breaths per minute. She has been like this the whole time we have had her. I watch her sleep next to my 2 year old dog who breaths very differently. She seems to take short rapid breaths and an occasional deep breath where he takes all deep long relaxed breaths. If I didn't have another dog, I probably would not have even noticed. All her medical records up until her 4 month appointment did not indicate any issues.

Sept. 16, 2018

Lily's Owner

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Bruiser

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Chihuahua

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12 Years

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

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Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Rapid Breathing

My chihuahua, Bruiser, decided not to eat this evening. He didn’t even have any interest in his food which is very strange. He will be 12 in October and I have had him since he was about 6 weeks old. On top of not eating this evening, he vomited earlier and now is rapidly breathing thru his nose (almost like panting) while laying. He takes cerenia for a collapsed trachea and also takes meds for hypothyroid. I’m sure I’m just over thinking things, but could this possibly mean something bad?

Aug. 31, 2018

Bruiser's Owner

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Tucker

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Coton de Tulear

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15 Years

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Moderate condition

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1 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Fast Breathing, Whining

Tucker is breathing fast while resting. He is also whining. He has cushings, positive for lyme and also has arthritis. He lost his companion 8 weeks ago. We gave him his prescribed pain meds and he has stopped whining. He still has some fast breathing and is asleep. Drinking water.

Aug. 25, 2018

Tucker's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Fast breathing and whining would be associated with pain especially if he stopped whining after receiving the prescribed pain medication; without examining Tucker I cannot say whether there is another underlying condition affecting him or not but you should return to your Veterinarian for another examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 25, 2018

Thank you. Tucker did sleep through the night, and upon waking still did have some fast breathing. His condition improved throughout the day and he ate breakfast and dinner. Hopefully, he will be back to his normal shenanigans soon! I am not sure what caused his pain and discomfort. Thank you and my best wishes go out to all the vets and pet parents! We will be contacting our vet, Dr. Ricketts to discuss the issue.

Aug. 26, 2018

Tucker's Owner

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Tilly

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Wirehaired Vizsla

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4 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Fast Breathing When Pacing Round

One of our dogs, a four year old Wirehaired Vizsla breathes very fast when she is walking around the house. She does not do this when asleep, is happy to exercise( comes back with normal panting) does not do this once settled on someone's lap or if we are all with her in a room. She has severe separation anxiety, if she comes out in the car with us it stops as she settles and sleeps. It only happens when she gets up, moves around to find one of us, lies down and it stops. She us virtually never left alone by humans and has two dogs for company. We think it us anxiety after being in kennels in June, she and the others were there longer than usual, 16 days, she had never been left for more than 10 before. She has always been a 'different' dog, very clingy almost like a person with autism in her behaviour, she does have a urate stone disorder but has a prescription diet and has never had a problem, is taken out to pee every three to four hours day and night, used to have allergies but this year they seem to have gone. I hate to see her do this fast breathing but she definitely doesn't seem to be ill, no temperature, no pain and stops as soon as she lies down with someone ( ideally on their lap) is it likely to be the anxiety and how do we treat that?

Aug. 16, 2018

Tilly's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

While I can't examine Tilly or assess her cardiovascular function, from your description it does sound like her rapid breathing might be related to anxiety rather than disease. If she is that anxious at home, she may benefit from anti-anxiety medications, even for a short term. It would be worth discussing with your veterinarian, as they can prescribe appropriate medications for her, and a trial might tell you if anxiety is the cause of the problem, and help her be more at ease.

Aug. 16, 2018

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Lexi

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Collie

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4 Years

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Moderate condition

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1 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Quick Breaths

Hi there. I’m Sophie and I have a rescue dog called Lexi. She’s 4 years old and we’ve had her for nearly 3 years. In the last week or so she’s started to pant really quickly when she’s resting. She’s never done this before and I’m really worried. I also just noticed that she keeps licking a spot on her right side. I told my parents about this the other day but they said she’d stop doing it so no need to take her to the vets. She hasn’t stopped though and they’ve just flown off to Nice in France for 2 days. Lexi and I are staying at my grandparents house while they’re away and I don’t think my grandparents will take her to the vets as it will cost them a lot of money. I don’t know what to do and I’m panicking. She’s breathing really quickly right now and snoring so loud that it sounds like she’s growling. I can’t sleep I’m so worried. Please help :(

Aug. 14, 2018

Lexi's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Lexi, it is difficult to pinpoint specifically what the cause for the symptoms are however pain may result in an increase in respiration and if the pain originates in the abdomen Lexi may be trying to ‘lick it better’. Keep an eye on her and ensure that she is eating, drinking, defecating and urinating; however, if there is no improvement whilst your parents are in Nice, you should speak with them about visiting a Veterinarian on their return. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 15, 2018

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Blue

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German Shepherd

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1 Year

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

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 condition

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0 found helpful

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Moderate condition

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 condition

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

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 condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair condition

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 condition

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0 found helpful

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Mild condition

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.

Cannanine