Dog Is Breathing Heavily: 9 Causes And What You Should Do Now

First of all: stay calm! You should now find out why this is and how you can help your dog.

Does your dog have bad breath?

There might be something stuck in your dog’s airway, or he might just be overexerting himself. It is important that you do not panic.

Heavy breathing in a dog is not always an immediate emergency or shortness of breath!

Together we will find out what is causing your dog’s heavy breathing.

We will now explain exactly what you should do if your dog is breathing heavily and when you should consult a veterinarian.

In a nutshell: Heavy breathing in dogs – what could it be?

If your dog has been breathing heavily recently, it could be because…

  • Your dog has an allergy.
  • There is poisoning.
  • It is a respiratory disease.
  • Your dog is too warm.
  • Your dog has something stuck in its snout.
  • your dog is scared
  • Your dog is overweight.
  • There is laryngeal paralysis.
  • Not all bouts of heavy breathing are bad! First, see if you can see anything on your dog’s

nose. Wipe your dog’s nose to remove pollen.

Are you unsure whether you can assess the situation correctly or would you rather consult a veterinarian?

How can you tell if your dog isn’t getting enough air?

Your dog may show…

  • strong breath sounds
  • shortness of breath
  • a strong or very weak breathing movement of the chest

Your dog is breathing loudly through his nose – this is probably the clearest sign of disturbed breathing.

Your dog wheezes heavily when something is stuck in his nose or when he is overexerted. This happens more often and is quite normal, especially after a long walk in summer.

If your dog is exhibiting shortness of breath at rest, you should already be a little more concerned. Short breaths or heavy panting are not normal when the dog is completely still.

You can often recognize the shortness of breath by the movement of your dog. Does your pet’s belly and chest rise and fall slowly and audibly? Sometimes it can also be the other way around.

Dog breathes heavily – the causes

Heavy breathing in a dog does not immediately mean shortness of breath. As it is with you:

After exercising, you breathe faster and heavier than when lying down.

There are a few different causes of your dog’s heavy breathing…

1. Allergies

Heavy breathing in dogs can be caused by allergies. Itching usually occurs as well.

If your dog has an allergy, the problem will primarily appear in the spring and after a walk.

There are also dogs that are allergic to house dust. In this case, the heavy breathing occurs mainly indoors.

2. Poisoning

Is your dog breathing weird?

Did he possibly eat something when you took him for a walk?

It can also be a symptom of poisoning if your dog has difficulty breathing through its nose.

Usually, this symptom occurs with other manifestations, such as chills, seizures, or excessive drooling.

In this case, call a veterinarian immediately, describe the emergency as briefly but precisely as possible and try to remain as calm as possible despite everything.

3. Brachycephalic Syndrome

Or something simpler: short-headedness.

The pug dog breed in particular suffers from this syndrome. This is a functional and anatomical deformity in small dog breeds.

As a result, ignorant owners come to the vet with the following complaints:

The dog is panting heavily, the dog is constantly snoring, the dog can’t breathe…

In this case, a veterinarian must decide whether the malformed organs need to be enlarged by means of an operation.

4. Respiratory disease

A dog will breathe in fits and starts if it has a respiratory illness. A veterinarian can diagnose this after a thorough examination of the dog.

The dog may also be breathing rapidly and shallowly. If breathing problems persist, you should always call a veterinarian.

5. Heart disease

Does your dog pump when he’s breathing when he’s exerting himself?

You may have a heart condition that is making it impossible for your dog to get enough oxygen around the body.

You should not dismiss these diseases lightly either. In these cases, be sure to visit a veterinarian.

6. Laryngeal paralysis

The paralysis of the larynx announces itself. The first signs are hoarse barking and coughing.

Later, the dog will breathe heavily and quickly, will clearly show shortness of breath, and may even become unconscious. However, these symptoms only appear after years of the disease.

If you have a persistent cough or a hoarse dog, you should consult your veterinarian.

7. Heat Stroke

When it’s hot, your dog will sometimes breathe in and out more clearly. In the case of heat stroke, this panting becomes so obvious that it can go as far as hyperventilation.

If it is a case of heat stroke, you must immediately bring your dog into the shade and slowly(!) cool it down. After all, he shouldn’t be in shock.

Cool your dog down with some lukewarm water and make sure he doesn’t lose too much liquid.

In an emergency: call the vet immediately!

8. Stress and Anxiety

Your dog is breathing loudly and heavily through its nose, maybe it is trembling too?

Maybe he’s hugging you too?

See if you can spot anything that scares or stresses your dog. Calm him down, stay cool yourself and get him out of the “dangerous situation” confidently.

9. Overweight

Being overweight can also affect breathing.

In these cases, you should discuss a diet with a veterinarian.

When to the vet if the dog is breathing heavily?

If your dog for a long time…

  • breathing heavily
  • frequently coughs
  • snores a lot and loudly
  • is constantly hoarse
  • showing signs of intoxication
  • you should go to the vet immediately.

What you can do for your dog now

In all situations, staying calm and focused is the most important measure.

Even if you really want to run around the apartment in panic: just pick up the phone, dial the number of your veterinarian and explain what happened as precisely as possible.

If it’s more of a mild breathing issue, you can sit with your dog and keep them company. Wait to see if the symptoms go away on their own after some rest.


Yes, breathing problems in dogs are not without problems.

It is often a question of allergies or breed-related problems that can be solved without any complications.

Sometimes, however, serious illnesses or life-threatening situations are behind this behavior.

If the heavy breathing is infrequent and brief, rest easy. If the seizures become more frequent or always follow the same pattern, you should consult a veterinarian.

Still unsure if your dog is really doing well?

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