Why Is My Puppy Breathing Fast?

Adopting a new puppy is exciting, joyful, and a celebration for most people. There’s nothing quite like having a new pup around the house, especially if you have children. They’re silly and crazy, just like a young child, and their antics can be adorable.

Of course, a puppy is a living creature, one that needs love, attention, and an excellent place to call home. Like all living creatures, they can also have bouts with sickness and disease, get cancer, and get other disorders that, while they suck, are to be expected. 

For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your pup for the first few weeks and months and make sure that they stay safe and healthy. If you see something unusual, they start acting differently, or things just seem out of sorts with your pup, taking them to the vet might be necessary.

To that end, many readers ask me a simple question quite regularly about their new pup. It’s about something that may seem out of the ordinary to anyone with a new puppy in their home. That question? Why is my puppy breathing fast?

The answer, in most cases, is that your puppy is breathing fast because that’s what puppies do. The thing is, puppies normally breathe faster than adult dogs, even when they’re just lying around doing nothing. Also, when they play and get excited, their breathing can get much faster, at least until they calm down again.

A scared or nervous puppy will also breathe faster, especially on a car ride, when meeting new dogs, or when they’re in a new and unknown environment. That’s because their heightened awareness increases their blood pressure, just like it often does for a human. 

However, in most cases, their heavy breathing is entirely normal and 100% nothing to worry about. As I said, puppies naturally breathe faster, and, as puppies, they’re also prone to getting over-excited. 

Now that you know why your puppy is breathing fast, I’m sure you have other questions, like what other things can cause your puppy to breathe fast. If you do, today’s blog is for you. I’ve collected many facts and data on puppies and their breathing that can answer all your questions. If that’s the info you’re looking for today, read on.

Is it Normal for Puppies to Breathe Fast?

In most cases, yes, it’s 100% normal for your puppy to breathe fast, even if they’re at rest. For example, the average breathing rate of a typical puppy is between 15 and 40 breaths per minute. That’s the rate they breathe at when resting and will increase even more during physical activity.

Also, an excited puppy will breathe faster than usual, especially if they’re playing and running around. Like a human child or an adult, activity, exercise, and excitement increase the demand for oxygen to the heart, which in turn tells the brain to breathe faster and take in more of that oxygen.

A puppy will also breathe faster if they’re nervous or scared. That can happen, for example, when they go for a car ride for the first time. Also, if they’re meeting new dogs or in a new environment such as a veterinarian’s office, their breathing will likely increase due to their nervousness.  This is known as tachypnea, a fancy word for saying that their breathing is faster than usual.

Another interesting factor that can cause a puppy to breathe faster is dreaming during sleep. For example, during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, their brain will be more active. For this reason, you might notice that their eyes move quickly back and forth under their eyelids, they whimper or whine, and their legs move or shake.

Generally speaking and putting aside any other health situations, if your puppy is breathing for any of the above reasons, it’s perfectly fine and absolutely normal.

How To Count Your Puppy’s Breathing Rate

Every puppy is different and will breathe faster or slower than other puppies, especially puppies of different breeds and sizes. However, if you want to count your puppy’s breathing rate, it’s pretty easy. There are two methods including;

  1. Watch your puppy’s chest or abdomen rise and lower for 1 minute.  All you need to do is count the times their chest and abdomen raises and, after 60 seconds, you’ll know how fast their breathing rate is.
  2. Put your hand on your puppy’s chest lightly and count how many times it raises during 1 minute.

Knowing how to count your puppy’s breathing rate won’t be all that useful most of the time but, if they have health problems, it might come in handy. (More on that in just a bit.)

When is your puppy breathing fast?

I’ve touched on all of them already but below are a few of the reasons that your puppy might be breathing fast and why.

After Exercise: 

Like all mammals, your puppy will typically breathe faster after exercise or activity, at least until they calm down and relax again.

While Lying Down:

As we’ve talked about, puppies typically breathe faster than adult dogs. One of the reasons is that their heart is beating more quickly, so they need to breathe faster to keep up with it.

While Sleeping:

Puppies, like humans, dream when they are asleep. Their dreams can often cause them to become excited, even while sleeping, and thus they will breathe faster.

When Should I See my Vet for my Puppy’s Fast Breathing?

As I mentioned earlier, knowing how to count your puppy’s breathing rate can sometimes be helpful. If you believe that they’re breathing too fast to be normal, checking their breathing rate might give you some critical information. 

For example, over 40 breaths a minute typically signifies that something’s not quite right with your puppy.  Below are a few things to ask yourself if you feel your puppy is breathing too fast, including:

  • Is your puppy eating well, or have they experienced a loss of appetite recently?
  • Are your puppy’s gums a bluish color that’s much different from their standard color?
  • Is your puppy sleeping very often, lethargic, or very low on energy? 
  • Is your puppy breathing with their mouth wide open and their nostrils extended widely?
  • Is your puppy very snotty with a nasal discharge and cough?

If your precious puppy has any of these signs or symptoms, it’s recommended you take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible. The reason why is that they may be suffering from a doggie disease that’s the root cause of their heavy and fast breathing.  Some of those diseases include:

  • Exposure to some type of toxin.
  • Anemia is when their blood can’t transport oxygen well to their heart. 
  • Something is stuck in their throat and blocking their windpipe.
  • They may have an upper respiratory infection, kennel cough, or pneumonia.
  • They could possibly have parasites.
  • Although rare, fast breathing could be a sign of an underlying congenital heart condition.

Final Thoughts

If you’re asking the question, “why is my puppy breathing fast?” the answer is that puppies normally breathe faster than adult dogs. They also breathe faster after physical exercise and activity, while under stress and while dreaming in their sleep. 

There are some situations where your puppy will breathe faster due to an underlying health condition, but those are few and far between. It does help to know how to check your puppy’s breathing rate, however, just in case it ever becomes necessary to do so.

I hope you truly enjoyed today’s blog article about your puppy and their breathing. If you have more questions, need advice, or want to read more about raising your new puppy, please look at some of my older blogs on the subject. They have a lot of real-world information, advice, and tips that can help you raise your precious puppy into a happy, healthy adult dog.