dog breathing fast

If you catch your puppy breathing fast while sleeping, you may think something’s wrong. After all, rapid breathing can be a sign of an emergency, so it’s completely normal to get worried.

However, in most cases, a puppy that’s breathing fast while asleep may not be a cause for concern. Still, it’s essential to understand a puppy’s sleeping behavior, so you can determine if it’s time to call a vet or not.

Possible Causes Why Your Puppy Is Breathing Fast While Asleep

Here are the most common reasons why your pup may be breathing fast when sleeping:

1. Your Pup is Dreaming

Dogs go through different sleep cycles like humans, and yes, dogs dream. When your puppy is in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep, they experience dreaming, and this can cause rapid breathing.

The dream might be about separation anxiety, or it could be about chasing after a cat, or it could be anything. It’s completely normal to start breathing faster during REM sleep, and it’s often accompanied by twitching of the eyelids, moaning or whimpering, and even barking.

Your puppy enters the REM stage of sleep about 20 to 30 minutes after closing its eyes. The cycle usually lasts anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, and your pup goes through several REM cycles each time it sleeps.

If you notice your pup breathing faster for this period, then you don’t need to worry. Your puppy may simply be having a dream.

However, something to watch out for is if your pup has an intense REM cycle. There’s a condition called REM Sleep Behavior Disorder in dogs similar to sleepwalking in humans. During episodes, your dog could run around the house, hit walls, and display abnormal behavior as it’s sleeping.

In such cases, you may need to bring your pup to a vet to be given medication to help it sleep more peacefully.

Related: Why is my dog sleeping with eyes open?

2. Your Dog’s Breed

Puppies that belong to the brachycephalic group are more than likely to breathe faster when they sleep, and this is because of their shortened airways. Dogs like boxers, Bulldogs, and Shi Tzus will tend to pat, snore, or wheeze when they sleep. If your dog belongs to this breed, it’s entirely normal for them to breathe louder and faster than other breeds.

However, if you notice that your puppy cannot sleep because it’s panting too much or has trouble breathing when lying down, your dog may be suffering from Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. If your pup has trouble sleeping, it may be time to bring it to the vet.

Related: Dog breeds with health problems

3. Your Puppy Is Stressed or Anxious

Like humans, when we are stressed or anxious, we tend to have very vivid dreams. The same goes for puppies. Stress can cause your pup’s heart rate to rise if you recently moved into a new home or your dog is recovering from an injury or illness, and it’s entirely normal for it to breathe a little faster when asleep.

To reduce your puppy’s stress levels and make it comfortable in your new home or when it’s recovering from an illness, having a cozy and comfortable dog bed can help ease the stress. Pamper your pup a little more with a memory foam dog bed if it’s recovering from an illness or injury, as these kinds of beds help to prevent bedsores.

4. The Room is Too Hot

Dogs pant to cool themselves because they don’t have sweat glands. If their environment is 3 to 4 degrees above their average body temperature, which is anywhere between 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, dogs will start panting. This could explain why your dog is breathing fast when asleep.

Additionally, since puppies have smaller lungs than adult dogs, they may breathe faster than older dogs. So if you live in hot and humid weather, make sure your pup stays in a cool and comfortable room.

Consider: Dog cooling mats

When Should You Be Concerned?

Though it’s normal for most puppies to have episodes of rapid breathing when sleeping, there are instances when you need to call the vet or bring your pup to an ER.

Typically, suppose other symptoms are present, such as lethargy, gastrointestinal issues, weakness, change in appetite, vomiting, coughing, and drooling, along with rapid breathing. In that case, there may be something wrong with your puppy. In such a case, you need to bring your furry friend to a vet as soon as possible.

So what common illnesses or conditions can cause a puppy to breathe faster while asleep? Here are the possible reasons:

1. Anemia

Anemia is a condition where your dog’s body attacks its red blood cells, causing low hemoglobin levels. Your dog’s blood cannot properly bring oxygen into the rest of the body, so your dog’s lungs and heart need to compensate, leading to faster breathing.

A vet may give supplements and medication to remedy this disorder.

2. Heart Failure

If your dog has congenital heart disease, a common sign would be rapid breathing. But in case of heart failure, your dog will be breathing faster even when it’s awake.

3. Respiratory Problem

Respiratory problems such as asthma or kennel cough may be the culprit, or even severe, such as fluid in the lungs. When your pup’s rapid breathing is accompanied by coughing, loss of appetite, and weakness, it may be suffering from a respiratory problem.

At-Home Breathing Test

Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine if your puppy’s breathing is faster than normal. You can try an at-home breathing test that can help you decide whether or not it’s time to call the vet.

Generally, dogs should not have more than 30 breaths per minute. If it goes beyond this number, it may be time for concern. However, since your dog is asleep, it may simply be dreaming, so it’s best to recheck your pup’s breathing after a couple of hours when it has gone out of the REM stage of sleep.

To do the test, observe the dog’s chest. Set a timer for one minute, and count how many times your dog’s chest goes up and down. Each time your dog’s chest goes up, count that as one. If you measured 40 breaths per minute over several hours, it might be time to call the vet. If you counted 30 breaths per minute and below, you don’t need to worry.


Being a dog parent is rewarding, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. A puppy’s health can be fragile, and if you don’t act fast, they could suffer from severe medical conditions that can be fatal.

One of the warning signs of a medical emergency is fast breathing, but it shouldn’t be a cause of concern, as discussed in this article. Your dog could simply be dreaming, belong to the brachycephalic group, be stressed, or the room may be too hot.

However, if other symptoms are present, such as coughing, weakness, and loss of appetite, you need to call your vet immediately.


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