My dog ??is panting or breathing heavily
Why can a dog gasp or breathe heavily?
Questions about breathing are very often asked in the consulting room. Think for example “my dog ??is panting”, “my dog ??is out of breath”, “my dog ??is stuffy” or “my dog ??is breathing heavily”. On this page we will go deeper into the possible causes of these complaints.
We distinguish three groups of possible causes of gasping, heavy breathing or other respiratory complaints.
The dog has a problem with the oxygen supply of his or her body.
The dog has a faster breathing through a problem elsewhere in the body. There is nothing wrong with the lungs or the oxygen supply.
The dog is overheated.
A dog with a problem in the oxygen supply.
A dog can go gasping or breathing heavily because the body gets too little oxygen. Oxygen is inhaled through the beak, trachea, bronchus and alveoli and absorbed into the blood. The heart then pumps the blood around the body to the organs, muscles and other tissues.
The main causes of a problem with the oxygen supply are:
– A problem in the upper airways (beak, throat, trachea and higher bronchial tubes). – Think for example of a process (tumor) in the throat area, a trachea collaps (this is a flattened trachea, which occurs regularly in older small dog breeds), or a foreign object in the throat / trachea.
– A problem in the lower airways (bronchial and alveoli). Think of a severe bronchitis or pneumonia. A heart problem can also lead to fluid in the alveoli.
– A problem in the chest cavity. The most important cause is a thorax. There is moisture in the chest cavity. Think for example of pus (a pyothorax), blood (a bleeding, for example after a collision), or fluid (for example with a chest cavity tumor).
– A heart problem. In addition to the fact that a heart problem can lead to fluid in the alveoli, a dog with a heart problem can also get problems with circulating blood (circulation problems).
A dog with problems with the oxygen supply will also breathe faster at rest, so if the dog sleeps. Normally, a dog is at rest less than 30 times per minute (regardless of the size of the dog).
A dog with a problem elsewhere in the body
There are many possibilities that make a dog gasp or breathe heavier where the problem is not located in the airways or heart.
Possible causes are:
– Pain. Dogs with osteoarthritis can also breathe or breathe faster.
– Stress. The breathing of the dog (but also people) can increase considerably in the event of unrest or stress.
– After strenuous exercise. It is normal for a dog to breathe or breathe quicker after a heavier physical effort.
– A shortage of blood or red blood cells. In the case of anemia, the ability of the blood to circulate oxygen has decreased. This allows a dog to breathe faster and out of breath.
– Overweight. A dog with overweight can lose his or her heat less well and thus gets it warm faster. Also possible complaints such as osteoarthritis express faster and more serious.
Overheating in the dog
We see this very regularly on hot summer days. Especially short-breed dog breeds are extra sensitive to this. The normal temperature of a dog is between 38 and 39 degrees Celsius. Also check out our blog post about overhitting with the dog. Obesity can also lead to panting because a dog can not easily lose his or her weight.