Dog breathes fast & pants heavily: 3 causes & professional tips

If your dog is suddenly breathing rapidly and panting heavily, this can indicate an allergic reaction, poisoning or even asthma. In order to be able to help your dog, quick action is required.

There are many other causes and can also be attributed to cardiac insufficiency or bronchitis, for example.

In this article you will find out what reasons can be responsible for rapid breathing and heavy panting, how you can recognize increased breathing and panting compared to the normal state and how to counteract it.

In a nutshell: Why do dogs pant?

Your dog will breathe quickly and pant heavily when physically challenged. Dogs normally breathe through their noses when their mouths are closed. When exercising, they open their mouths, visibly stick out their tongues, and breathe rapidly in through their noses and out through their mouths.

At the same time, panting also serves to exchange hot air from the lungs with cooler outside air.

Your dog will pant after extensive and strenuous exercise as well as in high summer temperatures. So this is a completely normal process.

However, if your dog is panting without any visible effort, the causes are to be found elsewhere. The panting and rapid breathing, possibly in connection with other symptoms, are based on a disease that should be treated by a veterinarian in case of doubt. Other reasons can also be stress, joy, fear or nervousness.

So until you are unsure why your dog is panting heavily, ask the team at Dr. Sam. Here your questions will be answered competently online and without waiting.

How much panting is normal?

At rest, your dog’s breathing rate should be between 15 and 30 times per minute. It is completely normal for this to increase with physical exertion.

Overall, the respiratory rate is greater in younger and smaller dogs than in older or larger dogs.

A stopwatch is sufficient to measure the frequency. This allows you to quickly determine whether breathing is normal or excessive.

3 causes of rapid breathing and heavy panting

If your dog is breathing and panting unusually quickly without significant exertion or heat, it could be a sign of the following:


Asthma is when your dog’s airways are chronically inflamed and therefore overly sensitive to external influences.

Even the smallest irritations, triggered by heat, exertion or allergens, lead to attacks of shortness of breath.

Triggers for this can be:

  • Cigarette smoke or room fragrances
  • cat hair
  • pollen and grasses
  • insecticides and mold spores

Other symptoms of asthma include sudden coughing, loss of appetite, panicking and pale gums.

Asthma in dogs is considered incurable. However, medication can relieve the symptoms. It is best to preventively keep potential triggers away from your dog.

Allergic reaction

According to studies, around 20 percent of all dogs suffer from allergies. Similar to asthma, allergies are not curable. Although these can be alleviated with medication, it is better to observe the context in which the allergy symptoms occur. Then you can deliberately keep your dog away from the triggers.

Typical symptoms of an allergy include:

  • A strong itch
  • nausea and vomiting, diarrhea
  • A runny nose
  • redness and swelling

Allergens are also similar to asthma:

Room scents and perfumes, cigarette smoke, pollen and grasses, insecticides or certain chemicals, but also the ingredients of daily food.

Your dog can also have an allergic reaction to milk, grain or soy products, even to the proteins of certain types of meat.


If your dog is poisoned, it could have caught a so-called poison bait outside. However, this happens less frequently than one would assume based on press reports.

In most cases, the dog owners themselves or their relatives and guests unknowingly cause poisoning. Not everything that is healthy for us is also healthy for your dog.

Some foods are even toxic to your dog. This includes:

Residues of chemical cleaning agents in the bowl or basket can also trigger poisoning if you overdo it with hygiene or use the wrong means.

In addition to rapid breathing, the following other symptoms are signs of poisoning:

If you suspect poisoning, you should see a veterinarian as soon as possible. A mild poisoning may subside and go away on its own. Nevertheless, the risk of permanent organ damage is very high.

The causes described are the most common. However, it is also worth mentioning the following, which, however, in any case must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian:

  • laryngeal paralysis
  • Brachycepal syndrome (so-called tormented breeds in which respiratory problems were knowingly accepted in order to achieve optical results)
  • anemia
  • cardiac insufficiency
  • Cushing’s syndrome (permanently excessive release of stress hormones)
  • Narrowed airways
  • bronchitis
  • heatstroke
  • lung infection
  • tracheal collapse
  • hyperthyroidism

Why is my dog ​​breathing rapidly when at rest?

Your dog is healthy and physically fit, the strenuous bike ride was hours ago. Still, for no apparent reason, he begins to breathe rapidly.

In addition to illness-related triggers, things that are quite banal for you can also ensure that your dog breathes quickly and begins to pant. Here it helps to observe him and his surroundings in order to find the trigger.

If your dog is lying in the blazing sun at 40 degrees, it is quite normal for him to start panting. If it gets too much for him, he will look for a shady spot himself. However, you should lure him to a cooler location to prevent heat stroke.

Other causes of rapid breathing can be stress, fear, but also joy.

If there are things in your dog’s environment that make him panicky or scared, you should calm him down and try to keep him away from such stressful situations in the future. However, this is often not possible.

Here it is important to gradually get your dog used to the triggers.

Heavy panting can also be a result of pain. So watch out for other symptoms that could indicate a disease. You may have witnessed a fall or slip in the past few hours. The panting here could be an indication of an injury sustained.

What to do if the dog is panting heavily?

If the panting is caused by exertion or a high outside temperature, make sure that he is in a cool place and that he is not subjected to any further exertion. Give him enough water so that he can use the liquid to balance his water and temperature balance.

If the panting is due to an illness or poisoning because other symptoms are also showing, you should monitor your dog and consult a veterinarian.

When to the vet?

An increased breathing rate and panting after physical exertion is completely normal. However, you should consult a veterinarian if:

  • You suspect poisoning
  • Your dog appears to be allergic to certain things or has asthma
  • He is panting due to pain resulting from an accident to rule out or treat fractures or torn ligaments
  • You are totally unclear about the possible causes

Especially if you don’t know what causes your dog to pant, you can get a free initial consultation with Dr. Sam and his team online, anytime and comfortably from home an initial overview.


If your dog is panting heavily and breathing rapidly, it’s usually due to physical exertion or the summer heat. Other triggers can include excitement, joy or stress.

While you can largely help your dog yourself here, the causes can also lie in a serious illness or poisoning. In order to be able to help your dog competently, you should definitely seek veterinary assistance.

You can do that with Dr. Sam. Competent, technically experienced and without waiting, you will receive valuable tips on all questions about your dog’s health in an online consultation.