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Puppy Breathing Fast While Sleeping (7 Reasons You Need to Know)

Updated by Sheryl on Nov 24, 2021

There is nothing sweeter than catching a tiny pup napping and behaving adorably while dreaming. It is a lovely moment to enjoy. We have talked about how to get puppy sleeping through the night in the previous article, but now there is a new question. Many pet owners have noticed their puppy breathing fast while sleeping.

Puppy breathing fast and heavy could be a result of a dream of some high-speed vicious squirrel. But sometimes, the situation can be way serious than it seems.

In today's post, we will try to look for the reasons causing the "puppy breathing fast while sleeping" issue. Although it is difficult to determine the actual cause of your puppy's breathing difficulties without a proper vet checkup, here are a few possibilities.

asleep puppies
  • Is it normal for puppies to breathe fast while sleeping
  • Why does my puppy breath so fast when sleeping
  • When should you be concerned

The average puppy respiratory rate lies between 15 to 40 times/min, which is way more active than adult canines. Puppies have a naturally faster heart and respiratory rate, so it is normal that you found puppy breathing fast while sleeping.

If you are concerned and want to know if your pup has a healthy respiratory rate, count your dog's number of breaths per minute and compare it with the average puppy breath rate.

If the number of breaths exceeds 40, it's time to call your vet. Your vet may perform some tests to determine whether the puppy has fluid in the lungs or is dealing with other health concerns causing heavy breathing.

1. REM Sleep Cycle

Puppy breathing fast and heavy while sleeping may be due to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is a sleep cycle responsible for most of our dreams. Dreams arising in this cycle can leave a physical effect on your puppy. Some of the most common signs of the REM cycle are body twitching and heavy breathing.

REM cycle comes with a higher level of brain activity. During this period, our precious puppers require more energy. They breathe faster to transfer an excess amount of oxygen to their lungs. This oxygen is then transmitted to the bloodstream and converted into energy.

If your puppy is breathing fast while sleeping for this reason, it isn't something that needs an emergency visit to the nearest vet. While heavy breathing can be worrying, it isn't a reason to panic. Usually, puppies dream more than adult dogs, so their REM cycle is way more active than adult canines.

2. Stress

Puppies may deal with stress and anxiety when they are separated from their mother or littermates. This anxiety can significantly affect your fido's breathing rate while asleep, but it's normal according to a medical standpoint. Lots of attention, love, and early socialization can help fade the anxiety away.

You must start training your pup as soon as possible. Taking your dog on regular walks can also offset the stress levels. Just keep your walks brief as puppies don't have enough stamina, and over-walking can contribute to heavy breathing.

3. Anemia

It's a bloodstream condition that happens when your lovely canine's immune system attacks the red blood cells, which is responsible for circulating the oxygen in the bloodstream. When the red blood cells start running low, puppies breathe heavily to compensate, and this may occur in their dream.

4. Onion or garlic poisoning

Yeah. You read it right. Onion and garlic are great taste boosters for many dishes, but both these ingredients are highly toxic for your pup's tummy. Not only do they lead to puppy breathing issues, especially when they're asleep, but they also contribute to vomiting, diarrhea, and salivation.

5. Heart failure

If your furball's heart is slowing down, puppy breathing fast while sleeping can be a sign that your pup is trying to circulate more oxygen in the bloodstream than its slow heart, which is capable of keeping up with. Regular veterinary checkups can help you monitor such diseases.

6. Fluid in the lungs

While most mammals, including dogs, have a small amount of fluid in their lungs, excess lung fluid can make it difficult to breathe. It also causes pain and discomfort.

You can figure out whether your dog is healthy or not by checking the little fellow's gums. If the gums are blue, lung fluid can be a reason for trouble breathing when they sleep.

7. Wrong sleeping positions

If your puppy is breathing fast while sleeping, it may put itself in a weird position. You may notice the little pal stretching its head/ neck and spreading the elbows apart when they sleep or take a short nap. Keep an eye on it as it is your dog's attempt to get more oxygen. If you are concerned, then a trip to the vet can cause no harm.

asleep puppies

Puppy breathing fast while sleeping is not only a mind-blogging phenomenon, but it is an indicator of some sort of respiratory distress requiring immediate attention. If your puppy's respiratory rate is above the average breathing limit (40 or above breathes per minute), consider answering the following questions:

  • Does your dog seem tired than normal?
  • Does your puppy have nasal discharge?
  • Does your dog cough regularly?
  • Is your fur ball experiencing loss of appetite and open mouth breathing?
  • Do your canine's gums have a blue hint?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes or you have noticed the following symptoms, take your puppy to be examined by a qualified veterinarian immediately.

  • Puppy trying to engage stomach muscles to breathe
  • Brick red, pale, or blue gums
  • Loss of appetite and energy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Heavy and out-of-character breathing.
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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