Why Are Puppies Breathing Fast When Sleeping?

Puppy Breathing Heavily Sleeping

If you have a puppy, then you surely know how fun it is to just watch the little creature sleep. Most people agree that a pup will look even cuter while sleeping peacefully. Their peaceful nature will help you relax and forget about all of your problems. If you snuggle them while you are sleeping they can get even sweeter. Some experts still consider that you should let your pet sleep in its own crate if possible, but this will ultimately be your choice.

You will always want your pet to have a restful, safe, and comfortable sleep, regardless of when and where they choose to rest. It might worry you to see that while sleeping, your puppy starts to breathe really fast. But is this a reason for concern? The short answer is that it will depend. Below you will find some expert opinions on what you should consider when you notice your pup breathing heavily while sleeping and when it will be time to talk to a vet.

What is a healthy rate of breathing and how to check?

Your puppy should have a breathing rate between 10 and 35 breaths per minute while resting, normally. Even so, not all dogs are the same so as you might expect, some will feature lower thresholds. You will be able to find the right breathing rate for your specific pup by talking to your vet.

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In fact, if you’re interested in your pet’s breathing rate, the best time to check it will be while the animal is sleeping, because while awake, physical activity, playtime, and exercise might elevate it. Here’s what you’ll have to do to calculate the pup’s breathing rate while sleeping:

  • Set your timer for a 30-second timeframe.
  • Watch your pet’s chest carefully to notice how many times it will rise and fall. These movements will signal when the dog will be inhaling and exhaling.
  • Count its breaths by counting the number of chest movements. One rise followed by a fall of the pup’s chest will represent one breath.
  • Repeat the process two consecutive times to make sure you get roughly the same results.
  • Multiply the number of breaths per 30 seconds by two and you will get its breathing rate.

When should you call your vet?

There are a few different reasons why a pup would be heavy breathing while sleeping. Although there are some common causes you can spot on your own, ultimately your vet will give you the best information on what your pup is going through and why is his breathing rate so elevated.

Heart problems

Heavy breathing can be a symptom of a heart-related condition. You might even have to monitor the resting breathing rate very often for your pet if it is diagnosed with a heart issue.

Problems related to its trachea

The dog’s trachea is basically its windpipe. Your puppy will start to breathe a lot more heavily if this organ is put under too much pressure if it collapses completely. When the trachea collapses, the pup will have a way harder time getting air into its lungs. This issue can also give other symptoms, like a dry, consistent cough. Although this problem is mostly related to older dogs, it does happen from time to time to puppies. There are some breeds, like the Chihuahua, who are even more susceptible to tracheal collapse or other trachea-related issues.

Food poisoning

A pup might start to breathe heavily if it has ingested something it wasn’t supposed to, like onions or garlic. This is one of the instances where you will need to call your vet or even poison control, as food poisoning can easily turn fatal.


Puppy SleepDogs, like most animals with fur, will regulate their temperature by breathing quickly. Your pup might try to regulate its body temperature by breathing heavily especially if you have your heat on high or it is an unusually hot day. Although it will manage to take its general temperature down most of the time, you should try to avoid your pup from overheating. Heart stroke isn’t only a risk to humans, but to dogs as well. You should bring your puppy inside if it’s really hot outside or, if you prefer really warm temperatures inside your home, at least move the pet to a cooler space. Also, give it a lot of water to properly hydrate.


I kept the best-case scenario for last. Your pup might just want to cool down after an intense exercise or play session. Dogs will use rapid breathing as a way to regulate their body temperature and cool down because they don’t sweat as humans do. Your pup might take a nap and try to cool down after playing with you or going with you on a long walk.


If you’re a first-time pup owner, it might be worrying for you to see it breathing very quickly in its sleep. The first thing you’ll need to do is check the exact number of breaths the dog is taking per minute to make sure the number is really off the chart. To do this, just count breaths one by one based on how many times the dog will inhale and then exhale for 30 seconds and then just multiply the number of breaths you get by two.

You will only have a reason to stress over if the breath count goes over 30 to 35 per minute. Even if the rate is outside of this number, there are a lot of reasons that might make the pup breathe heavier, and not all of them are concerning. Some pups will breathe faster while sleeping if they exercised or played recently or if the temperature is too hot. On the other hand, there are also a few reasons of concern related to fast breathing throughout rest periods like heart disease or food poisoning. Keep your dog hydrated and out of hot temperatures and if the breathing doesn’t get back to normal, you should talk to your vet to rule out any factors that might put its life in danger.

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