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Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping – Should I Be Worried?

Medically Reviewed

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?

puppy breathing fast while sleeping

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.

Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything in this article. Let’s start with taking look at some common reasons behind the 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!

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. 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.

Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping

You’re watching your cute puppy sleeping when suddenly you notice that it’s 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?

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.

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

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 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. 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.

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 in order 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!

Conclusion

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 due to 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.

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.

This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS.

Margarita graduated from the University of Liverpool, earning a Bachelor in Veterinary Science with distinction. She worked in small animal and equine practice for a few years, before choosing to focus solely on companion animals. She has developed a special interest in internal medicine and ophthalmology.

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