Why Do Puppies Breathe So Fast? (Don’t Panic)

by Stuart | Last Updated:   March 24, 2019
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Getting a new puppy is exciting and will bring many joys and challenges to your life. While you are likely to have prepared for your puppy’s habits, there are some things that can still be a bit surprising.

After a couple of days of watching your puppy, you may find yourself wondering what’s going on with their breathing.

So, why do puppies breathe so fast? Often, puppies feel overwhelmed by everything new around them and this can cause them to experience stress, which may trigger rapid breathing.

Seeing your puppy panting can cause worry to creep up. But try not to get ahead of yourself.

Think about what your puppy was just doing:

  • Were they playing?
  • Do you have guests at home?
  • Was your puppy running around the house?
  • Is it almost time to eat?

Panting occurs more often than you’d expect so try not to jump to conclusions. It is, however, important to monitor your puppies breathing on the off chance it is signalling something more serious.

Puppy breathe so fast in misty field so you can see its breath

Is Something Wrong When Puppies Breathe Fast?

If you’ve noticed your puppy breathing at a fast rate, chances are, you’ve been worried that there may be something wrong with your little friend.

Most likely, you have nothing to worry about.

All puppies breathe fast when they are resting or sleeping. With time, your puppy’s rate of breathing will slow down and even out.

If you see that your puppy is breathing fast after playing or spending time in the heat, just give them a little bit of time to catch their breath.

What Is A Normal Breathing Rate for Puppies?

When you look over at your sleeping puppy, you probably see an angel. But when you look just a little closer, you may start to worry when you see just how fast they’re breathing. This is normal. There is nothing to panic about.

Rapid breathing and movements like twitching or wriggling that sometimes accompany it, are common occurrences during the puppy months. When you see your puppy breathing very fast and twitching, they are probably dreaming.

If you still feel worried about just how fast your puppy is breathing, you can do a small test to determine their breath rate. Normal, healthy puppies tend to take between 15 and 40 breaths per minute. Keep that range in mind, and follow these steps:

  1. Wait until your puppy has fallen into a deep sleep.
  2. Watch your puppy’s chest move air in and then out. That is one breath.
  3. Use a stopwatch to time 30 seconds.
  4. Count how many full breaths your puppy takes in that time.
  5. Double that number and you’ll see your puppy’s breathing rate per minute.
  6. You could also observe for 15 seconds and multiply the number of breaths by 4.

You can do this small test a few times over the next few hours while your puppy is asleep to make sure that the reading is accurate.

Puppy breathing fast and looking at camera while laying on grass

Tips For Helping Puppies Breathing Fast

If you notice that your puppy is breathing fast quite often, you should start to pay attention to how they’re adapting to their new environment.

It is normal for a puppy to feel overwhelmed by everything new around them.

This can cause stress to pop up, which may trigger rapid breathing.

It’s very important that you deal with your puppy’s stress properly. If not, they could carry their anxiety and rapid breathing problems into adulthood and create other health issues.

Here is how to help your puppy transition to feel comfortable in their new home:

  1. Be Very Gentle: while you and your family may be super excited to have a new puppy at home, the puppy will still feel overwhelmed. It will be helpful if everyone in the family speaks in softer tones and approaches the puppy with gentle touches for the first couple of days.
  2. Let Them Explore: don’t try to push your puppy to take a tour of the whole house all at once. Allow them to sniff things out on their own time. When your puppy feels secure and ready, they will discover all your home has to offer.
  3. Don’t Overwhelm Them: there will be plenty of time in the first few months of your puppy’s life to introduce them to all the people you know and play with all the toys on the market. Let their beginning be slow. Allow them to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of your home alone with your family. There’s no need to try and entertain them with too many games at first.
  4. Short Training Sessions: if you have decided to train your puppy right away, that’s good, but you need to make sure that the training doesn’t become too much for your puppy to handle.
  5. No Yelling: try with all your might not to yell at your new puppy. While your voice may not seem so loud to you, to your puppy who is still adjusting, it can be very frightening. Yelling at your puppy will only make them feel more scared to explore.

Remember, when you bring a new puppy into your home, it has just been separated from its mother. Try to remain patient and approach your puppy with kindness.

Why Does My Puppy Breathe So Fast While Sleeping?

During your puppies REM sleep cycle (rapid eye movement) there is a high amount of brain activity. In order to support this activitiy, mammals (your puppy included) will breathe faster in order to get more oxygen.

Puppy’s are learning and growing at an extremely fast rate, so their brains activity during REM sleep is intense. In order to suppor that intensity, more oxygen is required for energy. Adult dogs aren’t having quite as intense REM cycles, which is why the fast breathing slows down the older dogs get.

Rapid Dog Breathing vs. Panting

If you’re watching your puppy breathing fast, try to pay attention to whether it’s simple breathing or panting. If your puppy has engaged in a high-energy activity or is in very hot temperatures, you may see them panting.

If you’re worried about dehydration in your puppy, check out our post on why coconut water for dogs or other water alternatives can be beneficial for your dog.

Seeing your puppy panting can cause worry to creep up. But try not to get ahead of yourself.

Think about what your puppy was just doing:

  1. Were they playing?
  2. Do you have guests at home?
  3. Was your puppy running around the house?
  4. Is it almost time to eat?
  5. Panting occurs more often than you’d expect.

An appropriate time to worry is when you notice that your puppy is panting or breathing very fast in combination with symptoms like lethargy or vomiting.

Don’t Panic!

Make sure you stay calm when you notice that your puppy is breathing very quickly.

Chances are, absolutely nothing is wrong.

Your puppy is probably dreaming or calming down after a good and active play session.

Allow a little time to pass before you start worrying. If their breathing reaches a speed that seems troublesome, give your veterinarian a call and ask for their advice.

Final Thoughts

Having a new puppy is an adventure. Each and every moment can bring a new experience to your life. While most of it is fun and games, the responsibility involved will sometimes leave you feeling worried or stressed about your puppy’s well-being.

When it comes to fast breathing, just remember that this is typical in puppies. They’re growing and their breathing will slow down with time.

Continue Reading:

  1. Is Oatmeal Bad for Dogs?
  2. Can Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?
  3. Are Dryer Sheets Toxic for Dogs?
  4. How Much is a Dog X-Ray?
Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.