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Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping – Should I Be Worried?

Margarita Boyd
Reviewed by: Dr. Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS
Are you a new dog owner who is discovering new things about having a dog every day? The latest thing you've noticed is that your puppy seems to be breathing really fast while asleep. Is this something you should worry about?

Is your puppy breathing very fast while asleep and you don’t know what it means?

Is it something alarming you should pay attention to?

After our previous article on dogs breathing fast we got a lot of questions regarding puppies breathing fast while sleeping.

We wanted to answer this question and explore why puppies tend to do this. So let’s get started!

Since you’re reading this article it means that you’re not alone to wonder about your puppy breathing fast!

This is very common, especially when you’re a first-time dog owner and you’re still in the learning process.

Furthermore, you are probably often thinking – ‘why is my puppy breathing fast when she sleeps’ or he, right?

Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything in this article.

Once you finish the reading of this article, you will know much more about puppy fast breathing, puppy breathing fast, and puppy breathing heavy.

Let’s start with taking look at some common reasons behind fast breathing and discuss a puppy’s normal breathing rate.

Why Is My Puppy Breathing Fast?

Some reasons behind puppies breathing fast are quite obvious, such as a lot of playing and exercise or warm temperatures.

In these cases, it is normal for your puppy to breath faster, your puppy is simply catching his breath.

In other situations, you may not understand exactly why your puppy is breathing faster than usual.

If you notice that your pup is breathing rapidly while asleep you may be worried and ask yourself why he’s doing it.

That’s what we’re taking a look at today!

Is It Normal For Puppies To Breathe Fast

Puppies tend to breathe at faster rates opposite to adult dogs.

To put this into numbers, adult dogs breathe between 10-30 breaths per minute, while puppies breathe between 15 to 40 breaths per minute.

In a way, it is normal for puppies to breathe fast. There are certain situations where a puppy may breathe rapidly and you should be worried about it.

These situations include more intense playing, or playing in warm temperatures, which means that your puppy is just trying to catch his breath. Other situations may require more explanations because they may seem a bit odd.

For example, when you catch your puppy breathing heavily while asleep, or when you notice him breathing rapidly without prior exercise.

The good news here is that in most cases involving rapid breathing, you don’t have a thing to worry about.

Still, it’s wise to know certain conditions and the reasons behind them, so you should know how to react and when is the time to contact your veterinarian.

For example: If you notice your puppy open-mouth breathing with flared nostrils and blueish gums, it’s a sign that you need to take him immediately to the veterinarian clinic.

A Notice On Brachycephalic Breeds

It’s known that brachycephalic breeds, breeds with fat noses and faces, have difficulties breathing, especially during summer days.

These breeds are more prone to heatstroke and overall owning this breed usually means higher veterinarian bills and more frequent visits to the veterinarian’s office.

So, if your puppy is a short-nosed and flat-faced breed, such as Pug or Bulldog, it will be normal for them to have louder breathing noises, or to breather heavier, or faster than puppies of other breeds.

Bear in mind that they’re still susceptible to breathing problems. Why is this the case? Since their airways are so narrow, it’s common for them to breathe heavier.

Still, if the breathing is out of the ordinary, make sure that you contact your veterinarian.

In some rare cases, a surgical correction has to be performed to help open their airways for them to be able to breathe better.

Higher Breathing Rates

The first and easiest explanation for puppies breathing fast is the fact that puppies naturally have a higher breathing rate than adult dogs.

This is also true for any other mammal newborns. (1)

According to The Animal Emergency Center, the normal breathing rate is somewhere between 10 and 30 breaths per minute for adult dogs, while puppies breathe 15 to 40 times per minute.

It is important to know what the normal breathing rate is when it comes to your puppy.

Count his breathing rate over a one-minute period, when he’s relaxed at home. Therefore, you can tell when he is breathing faster than usual.

Checking Your Dog’s Breathing Rates

Checking your dog’s respiratory rate is much easier than you might believe it to be. All you have to do is to assess the dog’s respiratory rate while he is sleeping.

What you need to do first is to watch your dog’s chest.

You need to do this for a few minutes as it rises and falls to familiarize yourself with the movement. One breath equals one count.

In fact, one breath is counted ​when the dog has inhaled and exhaled once.

Your second step should be to set a timer for 30 seconds. Count the number of times the dog takes a breath (the dog’s breathing is when the chest rises and falls).

Once you have initial results, you need to multiply the number of breaths by 2 to get the dog’s respiratory rate (bpm). A normal dog’s respiratory rate is between 15-60 bpm.

What Should I Do If The Resting/Sleeping Breathing Rate Is Increased In My Dog?

You shouldn’t panic – that’s the very first step. The second step is to measure the sleeping rate once again.

You need to count it a few times over the next couple of hours, just to be sure it is a consistent finding.

When should you contact your veterinarian? If the breathing rate is continually increased then you need to contact your veterinarian.

In most cases, veterinarians will suggest a recheck appointment the following or the same day. If your dog has some medical issues, the veterinarian might change the therapy.

If your dog has asymptomatic heart disease, your veterinarian will tell you how often to measure breathing rates and why.

Dogs with such conditions are in greater danger of developing heart failure, which is why measuring breathing rates are so important.

As a general rule, measuring breathing rates should be done at least two times per week, while in some cases your veterinarian might suggest that you do it even frequently.

If your pet has heart failure, the home breathing rate should be evaluated once per day.

If you want to double-check your dog’s breathing rates think about using an app.

Many free smartphone apps can help you track your dog’s breathing rate at home.

Search the app store for ‘your dog’s heart resting breathing rate,’ check the reviews and find the best app that suits your needs.

SUMMARY:

A puppy’s breathing rate is 15 to 40 breaths per minute, which is faster than 10 to 30 times per minute for a normal breathing rate of an adult dog.

Do Puppies Breathe Fast When Sleeping

For most dogs, fast breathing is nothing to be worried about. In most cases, they have a lucid dream, or their sleep cycles changes.

If you think that your dog is breathing fast longer than he should, do your best not to worry immediately.

Again: puppies tend to breathe faster than adult dogs do. This is a normal occurrence even during sleep.

As he gets older this will change, especially if your Fido is a larger breed.

Heavy breathing or panting may occur due to oxygen deprivation – this may occur in dogs with anemia, which limits the number of red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body.

Also, dogs with some type of allergies, asthma, or in general with some respiratory disease are more prone to heavy breathing naturally while sleeping and being awake.

This is especially seen when dogs are physically active.

As a general rule, if your dog is breathing fast because he has a specific medical condition or an underlying medical condition, he will show several other symptoms as well, such as:

Bear in mind that these symptoms aren’t present all the time, so whenever you notice something unusual contact your veterinarian.

Do puppies breathe fast when sleeping? Yes, they do, but if it’s extreme talk to your veterinarian.

Why Do Puppies Breathe Fast

Dogs, just like humans dream. In fact, their sleep cycle is pretty much similar to the one in humans, because they dream during the REM phase of their sleep cycle.

You probably know already that REM stands for “rapid eye movement,” and this sleeping phase is unique to mammals.

Both humans and dogs come with a high amount of brain activity, and durign the REM phase they are getting the needed rest.

In other words, they will start breathing faster to take in an excess amount of oxygen. That oxygen is then transferred from the lungs to the bloodstream and there converted into energy.

As your puppy grows, his REM cycle will be much more active than that of a fully grown pup.

It’s important to note that adult dogs do not tend to breathe as rapidly in their sleep. In adult dogs, extremely short periods of quick breathing are acceptable, while prolonged periods are a bad sign.

This is usually the sign that you should contact your veterinarian.

Always think about external factors before you start panicking. Don’t forget that a warm environment can cause rapid breathing in your dog.

Dog’s activity levels can easily affect his breathing, and a short nap after an exercise to walk will leave your dog breathing a little harder than usual.

Should You Wake Your Dog When Breathing Fast

Hearing your dog breathing rapidly may sound scary. After all, no one feels comfortable when there is something new happening, and you have no idea if it’s good or not. Therefore, you need to stay calm, so you can react properly.

If your dog doesn’t have any medical conditions and he is a puppy then he breaths just as he should.

Again, listening to your pooch panting isn’t comfortable, which is why many dog owners ask themself if they should wake their dogs or not when panting.

The answer to this question will depend on why they are breathing rapidly. For dogs who experience a normal REM cycle, the general advice is not to wake them up.

This is their time to get enough sleep and rest. In fact, disrupting them could have negative consequences for their overall health.

During the REM phase, your dog will sleep the most. Did you know that dogs need far more sleep to get rested than humans do? Dogs need daily between 14 to 16 hours of sleep.

They usually need 20 minutes to reach the REM cycle. During this phase, they dream most heavily and experience twitching, paws running and tipping.

Some dogs may even bark during this phase, which is why you should let them sleep. Never wake up a dog as if you were about to wake up a human.

When suddenly awakened, dogs may nip the hand that shook them awake. Even if they would never hurt you, sudden awaking can put a lot of stress on them.

Put yourself in their shoes… Do you like being awakened harshly while sleeping the deepest? Probably not, and that’s why you shouldn’t do the same to your canine.

Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping

You’re watching your cute puppy sleeping when suddenly you notice that he is breathing unusually fast like in the video above?

In addition, your dog may be twitching, wriggling, or whining. Naturally, you ask yourself if everything is OK? Is puppy panting in sleep a normal thing?

Is It Normal For Puppies To Breathe Fast While Sleeping? Should I Be Worried?

Fortunately, puppies breathing fast while sleeping is completely normal and isn’t something you should worry about.

Rapid breathing is something almost all puppies do when they fall asleep. That’s the case with babies as well, interestingly enough.

SUMMARY:

Puppies tend to breathe faster while they are asleep.

What’s The Reason Behind The Fast Breathing?

Puppies are breathing so fast and moving during their sleep because they’re dreaming.

Even though we can’t tell what they’re dreaming about, it’s safe to say that dreams are usually exciting, scary, and strange.

Mainly their breathing rate is increased when dreaming.

Puppies usually dream a lot more than adult dogs and besides breathing fast, they can even bark, growl, whine and move in their sleep.

This happens during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase when brain waves are fast and irregular and the mental activity is higher. (2) The REM phase of sleep is unique to mammals, like dogs and humans, with rapid eye movements, low muscle tone throughout the body and allows vivid dreams too.

With all this brain activity happening when a puppy is sleeping, the body and brain need fuel in the form of oxygen and energy.

When a puppy breathes in, oxygen goes into the lungs and is then transferred to the red blood cells, to be transported around the body. (3)

The puppy has a high breathing rate to get a high supply of oxygen for the body. (4)

Puppies are constantly growing and developing, they have high metabolisms and are generally very active.

Therefore, their organs need a constant and high level of oxygen delivered to ensure they are working to the best of their ability to help the puppy grow.

This is why their heart rate and puppy respiration rate is a little higher than that of adult dogs overall.

Over time, while they’re growing up, the breathing and heart rates will become a little slower.

Adult Dog Asleep VS Puppy Asleep

There’s a huge difference between the way adult dogs sleep and the way puppies do. This is why puppies breathe much faster when asleep.

Grown-up dogs are definitely more quiet and calm when they sleep. (5)

They may snore, twitch or make other noises but it’s usually a sleep without noise.

On the other hand, a puppy is usually much more active during sleep. He’s moving more and his body is twitching, almost like the whole body is participating in the dreams.

They might even whine, bark or suckle if they’re dreaming about nursing.

SUMMARY:

Puppies dream a lot more than adult dogs and dreaming can often produce an increased breathing rate in a puppy.

When Should I Be Concerned?

If your puppy is bright, eating and drinking normally, and doesn’t have diarrhea or vomiting, then there’s no need to be worried if he’s breathing faster when asleep.

However, if your puppy is showing any of the following symptoms it may be a sign that something isn’t right, and he needs a visit to the vet:

  • Not eating or drinking
  • Rapid breathing when awake without any apparent reason, even when relaxed.
  • Coughing
  • Appears to have difficulty breathing
  • Problems with growth and development
  • Very tired and lethargic
  • Not playing as much as usual
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

If you notice any of these symptoms on top of fast breathing you should take your puppy to the vet to check if something is wrong.

However, if your puppy is breathing fast only during sleep and showing no other symptoms then there’s no reason to be worried! Therefore, your mind will go from ‘why does my puppy breath so fast’ to ‘my puppy is ok’.

So far you have a full understanding of why puppies breathe rapidly and when it’s just a part of growing up.

Sadly, there are some situations when rapid breathing is linked with deeper issues, other than dreaming.

If the rapid breathing continues while your dog is awake you should start getting worried. This is usually the time when you should contact your veterinarian.

As mentioned above, common signs that something is wrong include vomiting, lethargy, coughing, and lack of appetite.

Dogs are such foodies that they would never say no to food, so refusing to eat is a definite sign that something is wrong.

Keep in mind that the majority of the time, when a dog breathes fast while sleeping it’s fine, and the cause is usually something bening.

Some of the possible medical reasons include:

  • Congenital heart failure. Dogs with this condition may experience rapid breathing while sleeping. During sleep, the heart makes an extra effort to function normally. This condition is usually followed by coughing, fainting, and extreme fatigue.
  • Sleep disordered breathing. Dog that suffers from any sleep-related issues may experience an episode of breathing obstruction. This breathing obstruction is always followed by rapid breathing. Did you know that dogs can experience sleep apnea? This condition in dogs is far more often than we believe it to be because every dog can experience it. However, sleep apnea is more present in brachy breeds and obese dogs.

Other Medical Conditions That Can Cause Your Puppy To Breathe Fast:

  • Pneumonia
  • Toxin exposure
  • Anemia
  • Parasites
  • Windpipe
  • Something is stuck in their throat
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Pulmonary edema

Can You Prevent Rapid Breathing In The Future?

The main thing here to remember is that you don’t have always to interfere with rapid breathing.

Plus, you won’t be able to prevent fast breathing during sleep, so the better option is to monitor your dog while sleeping.

Your puppy depends on his REM sleep to get enough rest and develop as he should. Any disturbance can affect negatively his respiratory systems and lead to severe health issues.

In adult dogs, rapid breathing is usually followed by rapid breathing, while thats mostly not the case with puppies. This is especially true if you work with responsible breeders, who screen parents and litter before finding their final home.

If you are not presented with medical documentation on the dog, you are standing in a puppy mill – and that is when you should walk away.

If you adopting a dog from a local shelter, you will be given tracks on the dog’s history from day one at the shelter.

This way you will have insight into whether the dog is healthy or not, and what you can expect.

To ensure that your puppy is healthy, regularly check the dog’s gums and body temperature, and think about the puppies diet.

Make sure that you know how much you should feed your dog, which puppy food is the best considering the dog’s breed, size, and energy level, and that you know which human foods are safe for dogs, and which (such as chocolate, onion, and garlic) should be avoided no matter what.

How Can You Make Sure Your Dog Gets A Good Night Sleep?

Just like humans, dogs need to rest and sleep, so they can rebuild their muscles and get enough rest.

By sleeping they are accumulating enough strength to be active on training sessions, to memorize, and to be active when their humans are up.

So, making sure that the dog is comfortable and happy can go a long way. It can help them breathe easily.

Since overheating is a constant issue, keeping an eye on your dog during the summer days and nights is a must. It cannot hurt to keep an eye on the thermostat as well.

Providing a comfortable place to sleep can also help dogs sleep better. For full rest, think about investing in an orthopedic dog bed.

As breathing quickly during rest isn’t uncommon in puppies, this is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly in your adult dog.

Always maintain their diet and provide a relaxing and comfortable environment to rest in.

These things, next to proper nutrition, proper training, and regular veterinary checkups, should help your puppy be happy and healthy.

SUMMARY:

If fast breathing is accompanied by symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, or behavior that indicates a health problem, you should see a vet. (6)

Conclusion

If you ever wondered: “Do puppies breathe fast?” then here’s the final answer.

Puppies tend to breathe a lot faster than adult dogs in their sleep, it’s completely normal!

Fortunately, you don’t have anything to worry about. This rapid breathing is due to a higher breathing rate, higher heart rate and your puppy dreaming while asleep.

Sleeping is very important to puppies as it’s during sleep that their growth and development take place. Therefore, when your dog is still a puppy he’s developing the respiratory system while breathing fast at night.

Also, puppy breathing fast and swallow is known as panting and it’s a normal way for dogs to cool themselves. This is commonly seen during hot days or after intense exercise.

Being a new dog owner is exciting and you learn something every day!

Now you can cross this off of your list – puppy breathing fast while sleeping is usually harmless and something most puppies go through.

Frequently Asked Question On Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping

Is It Normal For Puppies To Breathe Fast?

Simply said, yes. Puppies are known for breathing faster opposite to adult dogs.

A normal resting respiratory rate for puppies is between 15 to 40 breaths per minute. In adult dogs, this rate is between 10-30 breaths per minute.

You can check this by yourself. You can count the dog’s breathing rate while the dog is asleep. As a general rule, dogs pant normally up to 200 pants per minute.

Do Puppies Breathe Fast When They Sleep?

Dogs dream. Just like humans, dogs experience a REM sleep cycle and tend to dream vivid dreams.

Once they enter the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase of sleep, it’s completely normal for them to start breathing faster.

In this phase, you can notice them showing signs of twitching of the muscled or eyelids, soem whimpers, or even barking. This may vary from dog to dog.

How Fast Does A Puppy Breath When Sleeping?

Healthy dogs have a breathing rate between 15 to 30 breaths every minute when they are sleeping or when they are resting. This may be different in dogs with certain conditions, such as heart disease.

Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast While Resting?

If you notice that your dog is breathing fast while resting, the first thing is not to panic.

Secondly, if the breathing is heavily and significanly faster than in general your dog might be facing respiratory distress.

If you notice labored breathing, extremely red gums (brick-like), blue-tinged gums, or even place gums, make sure that you contact your veterinarian.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Breathing Fast?

If your dog is breathing fast but acts as usual, you should contact your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian is the only professional who can help you with the right tips and guidelines.

As general first help, your veterinarian might suggest watching him for a few days and monitoring the respiratory rate to see if it – and when – returns to normal.

Is It Normal For Dogs To Breathe Fast While Sleeping?

Higher breathing rates in dogs are normal in certain situations, such as when it’s too hot outside. Higher breathing rates are normal when a dog has been active for a while, or even under a lot of stress.

Some anxious dogs may experience higher breathing rates as well because for them it’s high-stress level intensity.

Resting and sleeping breathing rates that are higher than 30 breaths per minute are considered abnormal.

Should I Be Worried If My Dog Is Breathing Fast?

In some cases, fast breathing is nothing to worry about, especially if your dog just had a good run at the dog’s park. However, in some cases, fast breathing in dogs may be a sign of some medical conditions or underlying medical issues.

In some cases, fast breathing may be a sign of an injury, which is why your dog should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Asthma is very frequent in dogs and fast breathing may be asthma-related. Also, don’t forget that squisk-faced breeds are more prone to breathing problems.

What Are The Signs Of Respiratory Distress In A Dog?

Increased respiratory rate is a common sign that your dog is in respiratory distress.

Next to this, dogs also experience blue discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes, due to poor oxygen delivery and occasionally coughing.

In some rare cases, dogs may have pink foamy fluid from the mouth or nose. The most common signs of respiratory problems in dogs include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Blue gums
  • Fainting

Why Does My Dog Pant Heavily At Night?

If it’s not too hot in the room, but your dog cannot stop panting then you should take him to the vet. It may be a sign of anxiety or an underlying medical issue.

In some cases, panting may be a sign of pain, or it can be linked with weight issues.

Monitor dog’s behavior to determine whether it’s related to temperature or it only happens in specific situations, such as after a walk or during thunderstorms.

Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast And Coughing?

Dog experts claim that when dogs breathe fast they are actually suffering from tachypnea.

This condition includes lower-respiratory issues such as bronchitis or fluid in the lungs and non-respiratory issues such as anemia, heart disease, and bloat.

These conditions are hard to deal with, especially bloat which is a life-threating condition, especially in large dog breeds.

What Are The Signs Of Your Dog Dying?

Dealing with a dog’s death is a traumatic and sad experience. It’s the end of an era and a huge milestone in a person’s life.

Still, it’s inevitable and something that every dog owner needs to deal with eventually.

Still, knowing signs that of dog dying can help humans cope much easier. Here are the most common signs that your dog is dying:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Not drinking water
  • Lack of desire to move
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle twitching

Why Does My Dog Pant At Night But Not During The Day?

If your home is well covered with an air conditioning system, but your dog still cannot catch a breath, something is wrong. Random panting in dogs is never without reason.

So what can be a reason for such behavior? If there are no temperature-related causes then you should think about the possible reasons, such as pain, anxiety, and disease.

Monitor your dog throughout the day and contact your veterinarian first thing in the morning.

When Should I Worry About Dog Panting?

As explained above, in most situations you should just monitor your dog and contact your veterinarian. That’s the case unless you notice that something is wrong with the dog’s gums.

However, if your dog starts panting suddenly, you should call a veterinarian immediately. If the panting is constant and intense your dog might be in pain.

Seeing your dog panting after a long run is normal, but if there is an issue it can easily become a life-threatening situation, so you should be alert no matter what.

Breathing issues are commonly caused by lung and respiratory problems, and can be a clear indicator of other health issues, such as obesity, heartworm, heart problem, allergies, trauma, tumors, and even smaller and bigger injuries.