When to be Concerned About Your Dog Breathing Heavily

dog breathing heavily in Berthoud CO
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When to be Concerned About Your Dog Breathing Heavily

Dogs use a lot of energy throughout the day when going on walks or playing chase around the yard. It is natural for a dog to breathe heavier than normal when they have been running or playing with their owners or other animals. 

However, if your dog is breathing heavily when at rest or for longer periods of time that may be cause for concern. Dogs breathing heavily can be caused by a variety of conditions including anything from asthma to congestive heart failure. Oftentimes, it is something temporary such as an infection or allergies.  Educating yourself on the different causes of heavy breathing in dogs can help you be prepared if any breathing concerns should arise with your dog. 

Normal Breathing in Dogs

In order to understand dogs breathing heavily, it can be helpful to understand what typical breathing looks like for a healthy dog. All dogs will pant, especially after exercise or when hot. However, if a dog is breathing more than 30 breaths per minute, this is outside of the normal range and your dog should be seen by a veterinarian. 

The typical range of breath for dogs is 15-30 breaths per minute. If you notice your dog’s belly rising and falling rapidly, it is important to keep an eye on the number of breaths they are taking per minute. Remember that if your dog is breathing heavily for a short period of time, it is typically not a cause for concern. 

Different Causes of Heavy Breathing in Dogs 

It can be hard to determine the cause of your dog’s heavy breathing episodes without having a veterinarian examine your dog. Many vets’ rule of thumb is to bring your dog into the clinic if they are struggling to breathe for a long period of time or they have had numerous different episodes of heavy breathing that weren’t brought on by exercise or activity. 

Some of the most common causes of heavy breathing in dogs include things like kennel cough, bacterial infections, asthma, and even hernias. Taking your dog in for regular checkups can also help veterinarians determine if there are any other underlying conditions that may cause heavy breathing.  If your dog is simply breathing heavily from exercise, it isn’t a cause for alarm unless it seems to continue for a prolonged period of time. 

dog breathing heavily in Berthoud, CO

What Is Stertor in Dogs? 

If you have been a dog owner for a while, you have likely heard your dog make an unusual breathing sound where it sounds like they are actually breathing in air backwards. There is actually a technical term for this named stertor. Stertor is defined as snorting that is caused by some sort of blockage in a dog’s upper respiratory tract. 

Stertor can be caused by a variety of things including allergens and infections. While it can often be a temporary concern, if you notice stertor continuing more frequently it is important to make an appointment for your dog to be seen by your veterinarian. 

Emotional Causes of Heavy Breathing in Dogs

One of the reasons humans connect well with dogs as pets is because they are emotional beings. Dogs can feel empathy and even worry and fear. Due to their heightened emotional awareness, dogs can often feel anxiety. Just like humans can struggle with deep breathing when they are anxious, so can dogs. 

If your dog doesn’t seem to have any other symptoms and other concerns have been ruled out, it is worth talking to your veterinarian about anxiety being the cause of heavy breathing in your dog. In fact, veterinarians can prescribe anti-anxiety medications for dogs to help manage their anxiety and stress. This will in turn help get the heavy breathing under control as well. 

Congestive Heart Failure Can Cause Heavy Breathing in Dogs 

As dogs age, different health conditions can arise depending on their age and breed. Congestive heart failure is a common condition in elderly dogs. Heavy breathing is one of the main symptoms of congestive heart failure.

 If a dog is diagnosed with congestive heart failure, that means there is fluid around their heart and lungs making it more difficult to get the needed amount of oxygen for healthy breathing. Luckily, a dog can continue to live for years after a diagnosis with the right treatment and lifestyle changes. 

Treatment for Dogs Breathing Heavily 

The cause of your dog’s heavy breathing will determine which treatments will be most effective in helping. Veterinarians may also suggest intravenous fluids to help rehydrate your dog quickly as well as potential pain relief medicine so their body can relax and heal from the cause of the heavy breathing, especially if it is something temporary. 

Treatment for heavy breathing often includes putting a dog on oxygen temporarily to help give their lungs some rest. Sometimes steroids are offered as well to help reduce anything that may be causing inflammation in their respiratory system. 

Helping A Dog Recover from a Heavy Breathing Episode

Whether the cause of your dog breathing heavily is something caused temporarily, or a more chronic condition, your dog’s respiratory system needs time to rest and recover. Making sure your dog stays hydrated will help speed up their recovery as well as keeping them in cooler temperatures as often as possible. 

If your dog has been prescribed medication, it is essential that you finish all medication as directed to prevent any future heavy breathing episodes. As your dog is recovering, if you notice any concerns it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately to prevent any further complications. 

If you are ever concerned about your dog’s breathing, it is always better to be cautious. Although many causes of heavy breathing in dogs may be minor and likely temporary, with elderly dogs or dogs with health issues any breathing concerns should be addressed immediately. Rest assured that the majority of isolated incidents that cause heavy breathing in dogs can be treated and are unlikely to happen again.

Is your dog breathing heavily in Berthoud, CO? Contact Berthoud Animal Hospital. Our veterinarians will look at the root cause of your dog’s heavy breathing and get them the help they need. Call us today at (970) 532-2726, or request an appointment online.

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