Most first-time dog owners are surprised by how fast a puppy can breathe while sleeping. A healthy puppy can draw in 15-35 breaths per minute. When a puppy breathes faster than that, you have to wonder if your puppy is ill.
A puppy can breathe much faster when they are reacting to REM sleep cycles or if they are ill. Kennel cough, asthma, bacterial infections of the windpipe, and heat stroke can lead to excessively fast breathing. Knowing what to look for can help you keep your puppy healthy.
8 Reasons Why My Puppy Is Hyperventilating While Sleeping
There are numerous reasons why your puppy may be breathing too fast or hyperventilating while sleeping. Many of these can be an indication of illness, so look out for these reasons and take appropriate action.
1. Sleep Excitement
Dogs dream. When a puppy gets excited, they may dream and get a combination of symptoms such as running paws and rapid breathing.
Normally, this isn’t dangerous. However, when your puppy gets too restless during their sleep, they may start hyperventilating, which can potentially cause a stroke.
What to do
Gently stroke your puppy if they breathe too fast. If necessary, wake your puppy and monitor their breathing rate for a few minutes as soon as they go to sleep.
2. Brachycephalic Dog Breeds
If your dog belongs to the brachycephalic breed of dogs, they may be prone to breathing irregularities and difficulty in breathing well. These dogs usually have misformed nasal passages, and as a result, they may overheat while sleeping and hyperventilate in an attempt to cool down.
What to do
Monitor your brachycephalic puppy, making sure they lie comfortably while sleeping, and check for any odd neck positions that may obstruct their already blocked nasal passages. Giving this puppy a puppy pillow to sleep on may be a great idea.
Puppies that are prone to asthma tend to have blocked airways. As a result, they may breathe too fast to try and get more air into their lungs. This can especially happen while they sleep. Your puppy may require medication to help manage their symptoms.
What to do
Consult with your vet, and when you see this rapid breathing happening during your puppy’s sleep, you can gently ease them by rubbing their belly or making sure they lie comfortably.
4. Kennel Cough
Many puppies develop kennel coughs due to airborne viruses and bacteria that lead to rasping coughs and irritation in the respiratory tract. Kennel cough will manifest as rapid breathing followed by random coughing or choking sounds while your puppy is sleeping.
What to do
The best way to treat kennel cough is to consult with your vet and place your puppy on a course of antibiotics and cortisone.
5. Pressure on the Windpipe
Many pet owners like to fit their puppy with a collar, but this can lead to obstruction of the windpipe and pressure on the puppy’s throat when they are sleeping while wearing the collar.
What to do
Remove the collar while your puppy is sleeping and while they are playing. If the heavy breathing continues, have the vet check your puppy’s throat for damage from the collar.
Puppies love to run and play, and this can leave them quite breathless. After an afternoon of play, a puppy may flop down and sleep. This may be accompanied by rapid breathing as a result of the puppy trying to replace the oxygen they used while playing.
What to do
Your puppy will usually recover within a few minutes, but if they don’t, then you need to manage any excessive play and energetic behavior that can bring on rapid breathing.
Puppies can become anemic when they suffer blood loss such as through parasites like fleas, ticks, and worms that feast on them as a blood meal. If your puppy is ill, they may also suffer from anemia if their liver is affected and they don’t produce enough red blood cells.
A puppy needs enough iron in their blood to carry oxygen from their lungs to their body. If they struggle to oxygenate their blood, they may start to hyperventilate in an attempt to draw in more oxygen.
What to do
If you suspect anemia, check your puppy’s eyelids and gums. Pale eyelids and gums can indicate anemia and an underlying condition. Take your puppy to the vet so they can do a blood smear test and check for parasites.
To support your puppy’s recovery, you can feed them iron-rich foods such as liver and kidneys. You can also ensure your puppy gets enough fluid and is treated for the parasites that caused the anemia.
8. Heat Stroke
Ever noticed how dogs love to lie in the sun, and how they start to breathe faster when they do? This is because the heat will trigger faster blood circulation, which can lead to the heart pumping faster.
Heat stroke happens when your dog has fallen asleep in the sun and, as a result, has begun to hyperventilate. The dog will breathe faster in an attempt to cool down, and they will begin to drool from the mouth too. Remember, a dog can’t sweat through their skin like people do to cool down.
What to do
If you suspect your puppy is suffering from heat stroke you will notice glazed eyes, limp body parts, and rapid breathing. You should move your dog to a shady spot and splash some cool water on their nose and feet to help the excess heat dissipate. You can also place a fan to blow on them.
How to Slow Down Your Puppy’s Breathing
An anxious dog may breathe faster while sleeping and while awake. It is a good idea to help them calm down and breathe slowly. To start, gently stroke your dog, and when they take a deep and slow breath, praise them. Even while asleep, your puppy will hear and respond.
When they are awake, exhale slowly and loudly as your dog may follow your behavior since it’s an instinct for them to copy their pack mate’s behavior.
Fast Breathing Puppies While Sleeping FAQs
Why do dogs hyperventilate when sleeping?
Dogs can hyperventilate when they sleep because of having a dream that makes them anxious or if they are feeling ill. Breathing faster helps draw in more oxygen to the lungs, but it can also overheat your puppy, leading to stroke.
Why would a dog breathe heavily?
A dog may breathe heavily when they have just played or run about. This is normal, and you shouldn’t be alarmed. However, if your dog breathes heavily while sleeping, and you notice they are struggling to breathe, pushing air with their stomach muscles, and drooling excessively, you need to consult a vet.
How fast should my dog be breathing?
As a general guide, dogs should breathe 15-30 times per minute while awake. At rest, this amount of breaths should decrease. Young puppies may breathe faster, but anything over 35-40 breaths per minute may indicate illness.
Raising a puppy is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Always monitor your puppy when they seem uncomfortable while sleeping. If you notice rapid breathing that isn’t related to their sleep patterns, take your puppy to the vet for a check-up and an assessment.
Hyperventilation in puppies while sleeping is usually tied to some underlying condition. Puppies naturally breathe rapidly, but when they are struggling to breathe, you know there is something wrong.