Why Is My Dog Breathing Heavily?

Why Is My Dog Breathing Heavily?
Panting is a natural occurrence with dogs. Sometimes your pup is excited, just got done running and is cooling down, etc. What should cause concern is when the panting is heavier than normal; not natural. These breathing problems, difficulty breathing through the airway, and respiratory rate may be an indicator of a larger health issue.
Dog respiratory systems are comprised of the lungs, the trachea (or windpipe), throat, nose, and the mouth.
According to Laura Playforth at Vets Now, issues in any of those parts of the respiratory system can cause stressful and life-threatening risks to your dog such as heart failure. In addition to that, they report the following as symptoms of rapid breathing:
  • Belly moving as well as the chest moving with each breath
  • Nostrils flaring open
  • Breathing with an open mouth, excessive panting, or any signs of distress in respiratory rate and heart rate
  • Breathing with the elbows sticking out from the body
  • Neck and head held low and extended out in front of the body
  • Noisy breathing (stridor)
  • Sounds congested when breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shallow breaths
  • Coughing

When your dog is breathing rapidly, heavier than normal it may be a sign of the following.
If your dog is breathing rapidly, take steps to cool your dog down to see if heatstroke is the cause. Pets WebMD shared the following suggestions:
  • Move your dog inside or to a shady spot.
  • Submerge your dog in cool water (avoid cold water, which constricts blood vessels) or apply ice packs or cold towels to your dog’s chest, neck, and head. Don’t spray your dog with a yard hose -- on hot days the water inside a hose can reach near boiling temperatures. You want to cool them off gradually.
  • Give your dog cool, not cold, water. Or give them ice cubes to lick.
  • After you’ve started cooling your dog down, take your dog to the vet immediately.
Poisoning (+ Medications)
Heavy panting can be an indication of your dog ingesting something toxic to their system. Seek emergency vet care if your dog gets a hold of toxic substances.
Chronic Illness
Some chronic illnesses that could be the cause of your dog’s rapid breathing are heart failure, Cushing’s syndrome, and respiratory disorder.
Injury & Pain
Your dog may have experienced trauma that they’re trying to keep under wraps, but they’ll need your help. If you suspect your dog was injured or experiencing trauma, seek veterinary assistance.
What is Cushing’s syndrome?
According to the FDA in their consumer update on Cushing’s treatments, “Cushing's disease results when the body produces too much of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is produced and stored by the adrenals, two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys.”
Call your veterinarian immediately if any of the following applies:
  • Your dog’s panting starts suddenly.
  • You think your dog may be in pain.
  • The panting is constant and intense.
  • Your dog’s tongue or gums appear blue, purple, or white -- a sign your pet isn’t getting enough oxygen.
- Pet WebMD
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