Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping – Should I Be Worried?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 08/24/21 •  6 min read
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Are you the proud parent of a puppy? Congratulations! We’re very happy for you and your new fur baby! When you have a puppy, every day is an adventure. There’s so much to learn about this new little furry being in your life!

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It’s easy and understandable to get concerned about things that may seem off with a new puppy. This can include the puppy’s breathing. If your puppy seems to be breathing normally when he falls asleep, then begins to breathe hard, it can be scary!

In this article, we’ll take a look at puppy breathing, along with what’s normal and not normal. Let’s get started!

Why is Your Puppy Breathing Fast?

There are some normal reasons that a puppy will breathe fast when he’s asleep. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if their breathing is normal or not. So, in this section, we’ll take a look at some of the common issues that cause a puppy to breathe fast when he’s asleep.

First, you’ll need to know that a puppy’s normal breathing rate is about 15 to 40 breaths a minute. For adult dogs, the normal breathing rate is between 10 and 30 breaths per minute.

If you’re worried about your puppy’s breathing, then count the number of breaths he takes in a minute when he’s awake and relaxed. This way, you tell if he’s breathing faster than normal.

Should I Be Worried If my Puppy is Breathing Fast While Asleep?

We’d like to reassure you that most of the time, a puppy breathing fast when asleep is normal. It’s not always something to be concerned about. Puppies tend to breathe faster when they’re asleep, that’s all.

Why Do Puppies Breathe Fast When Asleep?

Just like adult dogs, puppies also have dreams! Wouldn’t you love to know what your fur baby is dreaming about? Sometimes when they’re dreaming, it’s possible that a puppy will begin to breathe faster.

Puppies may also howl and bark when they sleep! The faster breathing, howling, and more typically happen during the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle. This is when the brain waves are irregular and fast. It’s at this time that mental activity is higher.

As the puppy is actively dreaming, the body may require more oxygen and energy. As a result, the puppy may start breathing faster. This is his body’s way of obtaining additional oxygen and energy.

It’s also interesting to note that adult dogs are not as active when they sleep as puppies are. Most adult dogs are pretty quiet while they sleep, though they may howl, bark, growl, and look like they’re running after that rabbit they saw in the afternoon!

On the other hand, puppies are very active when they sleep. You may notice your puppy’s body moving more, too.

When Should I be Concerned About my Puppy’s Fast Breathing During Sleep?

As we noted earlier, most fast breathing in puppy sleep is normal. However, there may be times when it’s not normal.

These symptoms may be an indication that you should be concerned about the puppy’s breathing:

If you notice these symptoms in your puppy, then you need to call the vet right away.

On the other hand, if your puppy isn’t showing these or other concerning symptoms and is breathing fast, then he’s probably OK. You don’t need to worry!

What Medical Problems Cause a Puppy to Breathe Fast When Sleeping?

The types of health issues that can cause a puppy to breathe fast when he’s asleep are varied. The symptoms above can be signs of serious health issues. And we don’t want to scare you! However, it’s important to know what to watch for and what the problem could be when a puppy’s breathing fast.

Rapid breathing can be a sign of health issues such as kennel cough or asthma. Puppies can suffer from these conditions, too. While these usually aren’t serious, your puppy will need to be treated for these conditions.

Other health issues can include:

Swollen belly & rapid breathing: sometimes puppies may eat too fast. When they do that, it’s possible they are also swallowing a lot of air. This gradually makes the belly swell a bit. This is not a serious health issue, and your puppy should be fine.

Worms: another cause of fast breathing in puppies can be due to worms. It’s common for puppies to pick up these parasites from their mothers. You may notice a swollen belly and fast breathing accompanied by these symptoms:

If you notice this combination of symptoms, then it’s time to have your puppy checked by the vet.

Stress: sometimes, puppies can become stressed. This usually happens when they first leave their mother and siblings and come to your home, which is very new to them. They don’t know anything about you or what will happen to them. You can imagine how scary that can be for them!  So, some puppies may become anxious during this time of adventure and big adjustments. It’s possible that a puppy could become so stressed that he will breathe fast when sleeping. The only thing you can do in this instance is to spend time loving your new puppy. Let him explore at his own pace and only train for short periods. Eventually, he’ll outgrow this stress and become a happy, bouncy little ball of fur!

Rapid breathing and panting: this may occur after your puppy has been playing really hard. It may start out as fast breathing and then go into panting. This is normal and just means he’s catching his breath! He’s working to cool himself off. The time to be worried is if the panting and fast breathing are accompanied by vomiting, not eating, and other symptoms. Then it’s time to take your fur baby to the vet.

We hope this article has put your mind at ease! Most of the time, your puppy breathing fast while he’s asleep is normal. There’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if you notice any concerning symptoms, then it’s time to call the vet. And always call the vet if you are worried about your puppy. They’ll have the best guidance and advice about your little ball of fur!

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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