Pet Health

Why Do Puppies Breathe Fast? Should You Be Worried?

If you’re a new pet owner, any odd behavior of your new puppy can be alarming, to say the least. One of these odd behaviors is rapid breathing. If you’re like me, you may have wondered whether your puppy’s unusual breathing is a cause for alarm.

In this article, I will explain why puppies tend to breathe faster and when it is or isn’t a serious health matter to be addressed. Luckily, most of the reasons are not that alarming and could be addressed quite easily, as long as you know what to do. It’s best to educate yourself to avoid any unnecessary worrying.

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Rapid Breathing vs Panting

It’s important not to confuse rapid breathing with mere panting. Panting is mainly characterized by short, quick, shallow breaths but with your dog’s mouth open. Panting is a very normal bodily process that helps your pup to cool down after it has engaged in a physically exhausting activity. Unlike us humans, dogs don’t actually perspire so they use panting to cool down instead. Panting, in general, is normal unless you feel that your pup’s panting is excessive and extremely straining.

There are times where your pup might be panting harmlessly but you realize it’s slowly progressing into something more dangerous. For example, your pup’s breathing might start to accompany other crucial signs and symptoms such as refusal to eat, lethargy, vomiting or unusual sleepiness and sudden lack of activity. If this is so, you should take your pup to the vet as soon as you can to get it examined.

How Do I Determine Rapid Breathing In My Pup?

In general, the normal breathing rate for pups can range anywhere between 15 and 45 breaths per minute. You might be curious to know if your pup is indeed breathing faster than average or if it’s just merely your own perception.

In order to count your pup’s breathing rate, you first need to ensure your pup is relaxed, not active and not panting at the moment. Being physically active would obviously affect your pup’s breathing rate. Pick a time of day when your pup is typically more relaxed and even sleepy so you can get a more accurate count.

What you would want to do is get a baseline number of your pup’s average breaths per minute so that you can compare to it when you’re concerned. When you’re satisfied that your pup is relaxed and calm, count how many times its chest rises and falls (as it goes through the inhalation and exhalation cycle). Each rise and fall count as one breath.

Reasons Why My Puppy Is Breathing So Fast

Cooling Down

As previously mentioned, puppies can breathe fast when they’re trying to cool down. Panting is their cooling mechanism because unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat. They do have a few sweat glands, but their main resort is still panting. Help cool down your puppy by bringing them to a cool place and giving them cool, fresh water to drink.


When your puppy is undergoing a fearful or stressful situation, they can start breathing faster than normal. This is common when they’re adjusting to a new environment, so if your puppy is new to your home, take it slow and help them cope with new things a little at a time.

Bringing a new puppy home can be a very exciting experience, but remember that your new canine may not necessarily see it the same way as you do. The young puppy is being taken away from its mother and is brought to a new, unfamiliar place. Remind every member of your family to be sensitive to the new puppy so as not to smother the unfamiliar pup and make it even more anxious than it already is.

Training your pup to do new things can also stress it out. While it is important to get down to training while it’s young and can easily be taught, don’t overwhelm it.

Medical Condition

There are a variety of respiratory and non-respiratory diseases that can cause your puppy to breathe fast. When its organs are not receiving the proper amount of oxygen, its breathing rate will increase to cope with it and try to get more oxygen. Some of these diseases can cause some sort of obstruction between the nose to the lungs which will cause your puppy’s labored breathing.

If your puppy’s abdomen is inflamed, that can also be a reason as to why it is breathing faster than normal. You should bring your puppy to the vet immediately, as well as when pain and fever are involved.

Panting and rapid breathing can be considered problematic if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, refusal to it and vomiting. When this happens, bring your pup to the vet’s clinic as soon as possible.

Coughing can accompany some of these diseases, and in the most severe cases, this might mean that your puppy’s heart is not working properly. This is another reason to give your vet a call for a check-up as there might be something potentially serious about your pup’s state of health.


Now this one is actually pretty normal and should not be any cause for panic. Have you ever noticed that your pup’s breathing changes while they are asleep and is even accompanied by some twitching and jerky movements? That’s because your little pup is dreaming.

It’s quite odd and worrying to see the first few times, but it really is something normal in dogs of all ages. Don’t worry if your dog is sleeping too much and is almost always rapidly breathing as they need the rest to grow and the dreaming and it’s signs are just a part of the whole process.

Swollen Belly

This is another typical symptom that coincides with rapid breathing and there are a variety of reasons as to why your puppy’s tummy might be swollen. For one, they may have just eaten a little too fast and their belly is full of air. This is a common thing for young pups that are not yet used to eating at a proper pace. Once your dog learns to pace its eating, its belly won’t swell up anymore.

Another possible reason is that your puppy may have worms. While this must be addressed, it’s actually a pretty common thing for puppies to have. Some of these worms even come directly from your puppy’s mother and could have been transferred via her milk. You can ask your vet for the right time to deworm your puppy.

If the swelling of your puppy’s belly is neither of these two reasons, and you suspect that there may be a more serious, underlying reason and/or is accompanied by other symptoms, schedule a visit to the vet to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.


If you’re concerned about your puppy’s rapid breathing, this article should help to clear some of your worries. In general, puppies do breathe faster than dogs and most of the time, it is pretty harmless. Be sure not to confuse panting with actual rapid breathing and know when to take action and rush your dog to the vet – when its rapid breathing is accompanied by other severe symptoms like vomiting or sudden lethargy and lack of activity.