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A puppy breathing fast, or erratically, can sometimes make you worry.
It might seem as if he's breathing way too quickly, or even that he's holding his breath.
this with the normal twitching, wriggling and even whining or barking
that a many puppies indulge in when they're dreaming and it can be 'panic
stations' for the human members of the family.
I get many questions about this sort of situation, and the good news is that generally a puppy breathing irregularly when asleep is nothing to worry about!
Let's start with the way your puppy behaves when he's deeply asleep.
Young puppies are basically tiny babies, and they're either eating, playing, eliminating or sleeping... and sleeping takes up more time than any other activity.
Sleep is very important to puppies as it's when
their little bodies do most of their growing and developing, so it's
natural that it will be one of their favorite pastimes.
But puppies don't necessarily sleep in that 'dead to the world' way that some mature and older dogs do.
They may twitch, jerk or 'wriggle', whine or even bark..... and their breathing may seem very fast, or slow and shallow, or appear to 'stop-and-start' as if they're holding their breath.
If you're a mom or have spent much time around newborn human infants, you'll know that babies act the same way.
A puppy breathing fast, or taking erratic breaths, twitching, wriggling or whining is all quite normal, and usually nothing to worry about.
I'm not a veterinarian and I can't tell you for sure that your puppy is 100% healthy, or whether or not he has any problems that are related to the way he's breathing when he's asleep....
BUT if he is:
..... then chances are good that little Fido is just fine.
However, a puppy who has difficulty breathing when awake, or shows any other signs of illness could be different story.
Occasionally a puppy will be born with a
heart or circulatory problem and this may cause his breathing to be
extra fast, or shallow, as well as a number of other symptoms such as
tiring easily, failing to grow or put on weight at a normal rate.
If your puppy is breathing fast, or erratically, when AWAKE, and has any of these symptoms, get him examined by a veterinarian right away:
Compared to adult dogs, puppies are more likely to develop severe upper respiratory infections or pneumonia.
This can cause rapid, or labored, breathing and if left untreated, pneumonia can be life-threatening. Difficulty breathing can also be a sign of heart problems.
While your puppy is calm and resting, he shouldn’t struggle to breath (but rapid breathing which is easy and light generally doesn't mean your pup is struggling). A puppy who is having difficulty breathing may gasp, drawn in breath deeply (especially noticeable in the belly area which will suck in more than normal) or be uneasy and restless while asleep.
A normal respiratory rate for dogs is no more than 30 breaths per minute at rest, but may vary. If your puppy is consistently breathing fast, has exaggerated or heavy breathing, is coughing, or is becoming overly winded after exercise he should be seen by a vet.
Symptoms of breathing difficulty in puppies may be accompanied by lethargy or poor appetite. In more severe cases, his gums may appear pale or bluish, this is a sign he is not getting enough oxygen and is always an emergency!
When you bring your puppy to the vet for a breathing problem, they will conduct a full physical exam. If he is coughing and sneezing but his lungs sound normal and he appears healthy otherwise, your vet may diagnose an upper respiratory infection.
This is often called “kennel cough,” but not all dogs who contract upper respiratory infections have been in kennels. They can pick up infections anywhere. This type of infection usually goes away on its own or with a course of antibiotics.
However, if your pup’s lungs sound congested or wheezy, he has fever, or he generally appears ill, he will need chest x-rays and other diagnostic tests. Pneumonia is a lung infection which often requires hospitalization for antibiotics, oxygen therapy, and nebulization treatments.
In rare cases, your vet may suspect a heart defect based on physical exam and x-rays. If this is the case, your puppy will need an ultrasound of his heart. This is usually done on a referral basis by a veterinary cardiology specialist.
Author: Dr. Megan Teiber, DVM
Reverse sneezing is a strange breathing irregularity that sometimes affects puppies and adult dogs as well. It's most common in small breeds or those with extra-long, or extra-short muzzles... and most often happens when a pup or dog is over-excited or exercising strenuously.
It sounds more like loud snorts than sneezing, and happens in bouts of repeated snorts, just the way sneezes happen. Allergies or upper respiratory problems can sometimes cause reverse sneezing episodes, so if little Fido is prone to sneezing fits, having your vet check him out is a good idea.
Hiccups in puppies are exactly the same as they are in humans. They happen suddenly, for no apparent reason, and can be mild or fairly aggressive! Hiccup attacks also disappear on their own. Puppies are more prone to hiccups than adult dogs.
For your peace of mind, puppy and dog health information on this site has been approved by veterinarian Dr. Megan Teiber, DVM
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