Why do puppies breathe fast while sleeping? If you are like a lot of dog parents, you’ve probably wondered the reason for that.

Maybe you’ve tried to see how you can stop it. Truth is, there’s a lot of contradictory and even outright false information floating around about why your puppy breathes fast while sleeping.

That’s why we rolled up our sleeves and uncovered all the latest experimental analysis. And what we discovered is that puppies dream more frequently and vividly than adult dogs do.


Then you’ll be even more surprised when you discover the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle of a puppy is way more active than that of an adult dog.

Read on to find out the causes and how you can reduce and even prevent the behavior in your puppy.

Causes of puppy breathing fast while sleeping

A puppy’s respiration rate should drop while they sleep. Yet, when they are dreaming, they can breathe rapidly. So what appears to be a frightening situation is usually just a small puppy “playing out” his dreams!

However, there are additional things to think about. Remember that a hot environment can cause fast respiration in your puppy as it tries to cool down while sleeping. Monitoring the temperature in your home will also help to keep your puppy calmer. 

A dog’s exercise affects its respiration. A short siesta after a vigorous game of fetch or a stroll around the park can cause your pet to breathe a little harder for a while.

It will quiet down while they sleep, but don’t be surprised if faster breathing marks the start of their slumber than usual.

While these are all-natural causes of rapid breathing, there are additional things to be concerned about.

 1. Heart failure

If your dog’s heart rate is slowing, fast breathing could show that they’re straining to circulate more oxygen in the bloodstream than their heart can handle. Regular visits with your veterinarian will assist you in keeping track of this.

2. Heat Stroke

Because dogs do not sweat normally, they must rely on cooling processes, such as panting to keep cool. Your dog may be at risk of heatstroke if he or she has spent too much time in the sun.

3. Anemia

Anemia is a blood disorder that happens when your puppy’s immune system attacks its red blood cells. Because these cells circulate oxygen in the bloodstream, if they get depleted because of this problem, a dog might compensate by breathing faster.

4. Fluid in the lungs

While most mammals, large and tiny, have a little amount of fluid in their lungs, too much can cause pain and make breathing difficult. Check your puppy’s gums for blueness; this could show that they’re having problems breathing. Low body temperature might sometimes be a sign that they need help. 

5. Onions/garlic poisoning

Onions and garlic are both bad for a dog’s stomach and can cause fast breathing. This is frequently accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive salivation.

6. In the Crate/Car

Now, unless your kennel is clearly in direct sunlight, which it shouldn’t be, or it’s extremely hot in the house, this is most likely a case where your dog isn’t exercising himself physically or because he feels hot.

When a puppy pants or breathes fast in his kennel, it’s usually because he’s being exposed to a condition he isn’t comfortable with.

If your puppy breathes heavily when you place him in his crate or a car ride, it is likely that he is stressed, and should this be the case, he should go back to breathing normally once he is out of these conditions and homeostasis sets in

Although this form of tense breathing is only brief, it is crucial to be aware of it.

If your puppy is stressed in the crate, take little measures to teach him that being in the crate is a positive experience.

Toss snacks into the crate and let him enjoy a toy or treat multiple times a day. 

Leave the kennel open at first so your puppy doesn’t feel trapped. Puppies, contrary to popular belief, are not den animals, and as a result, they are not born preferring crates or playpens; they must be exposed to pleasant events to learn to accept them!

The same goes with car rides. Make them fun and make sure your puppy doesn’t get carsick. Stress and motion sickness are not a nice combination!

Diagnosing your puppy respiratory rate

You don’t have to be worried about your puppy’s breathing pattern to find out his respiratory rate. Simply count his breaths for one minute while he sleeps or rests.

While adult dogs breathe at a rate of 10-30 breaths per minute, a puppy will breathe at a faster rate, between 15 and 40 breaths per minute, according to the Animal Emergency Center.

If your dog breathes at a rate greater than 40 per minute while at rest, he must be taken to the vet for an immediate check-up.

How to Determine Your Pup’s Respiratory Rate

To figure out what breathing rate, your puppy is at and how to calculate it, 

  • Make sure your dog is quiet and relaxed first. Ensure that he is not vigorously panting. Your dog’s mouth must be closed and his tongue must not protrude.

Given how active pups are, finding a dull period when your dog is calm may seem more difficult than it is, so you’ll have to catch your puppy at a moment of relaxation.

You can establish a baseline value for your puppy’s respiratory rate when he is relaxed, which you may compare to when you see any rapid breathing.

  • The moment your puppy appears relaxed, count the number of times his chest rises and falls as he breathes in and out (this makes one breath) and take note of this cycle.

A Quick and Easy Cut

When you have an active, hyperactive puppy, this task of counting your puppy’s breath for a full minute may seem difficult.

  • Watch your puppy’s chest move air in and out when he’s napping or resting peacefully. Consider the fact that one breath equals one in-and-out movement. 
  • Next, time 30 seconds with a stopwatch and count how many breaths your dog takes throughout that period. Multiply the number by two (30 X 2 = number of breaths in 60 seconds) to get the total number of breaths in 60 seconds. This will tell you how many breaths your dog takes each minute.  
  • Another way is to count your puppy’s breaths for 15 seconds and then multiply by four (15 X 4 = number of breaths in 60 seconds).

Repeat this computation a few times over the next few hours just to be sure your answer is consistent.

The aim of this is to deduce if your puppy’s breathing rate falls within the safe breathing range or if there’s a need to consult the vet.

Panting Doesn’t Count!

Remember to monitor the pup’s respiration rate only when he’s relaxed, not when he’s vigorously panting with his tongue jutting out, such as after a walk or after a long day in the yard, or while he’s out and about in the dog’s summer days. 

Taking your puppy’s respiratory rate while he is panting and recording it at that moment would cause a false readout and defeat the point of the entire experiment.

Consider this: when a dog pants, his respiratory rate can increase from 30 to 40 breaths per minute to 300 to 400 breaths per minute, according to veterinarian Dr. Debra Primovic. 

When a puppy or dog pants, his respiratory rate skyrockets, which might be scary for new puppy owners, but it is normal because canines can’t sweat off their skin as humans do and need to cool down quickly.

Why your puppy is breathing fast and shallow while sleeping

Having diagnosed your puppy’s respiratory rate, you can tell if he is breathing normally or not. If he is not breathing normally, then you want to know why before proceeding to address the cause.

For instance, stomach issues combined with rapid breathing can show poisoning while discoloration of the gums or unusual body temperature can show problems like heart failure or fluid in the lungs.

Dyspnea or Labored Breath

Another medical condition to be aware of is dyspnea, which refers to difficulty breathing. This is something you should be concerned about if you ever come across it.

The word “dyspnea” was coined to denote respiratory distress brought on by a medical condition. Breathing appears to be a laborious task for the puppy.

The puppy may be breathing with his abdominal muscles because it takes effort for him to breathe. As the puppy takes those weak breaths, there may be gasping noises.

His gums may become pale, white, or blue (cyanotic) This is the type of breathing you should be concerned about, as it often requires quick veterinarian intervention.

Puppies suffering from dyspnea because of an underlying condition may show signs of trouble breathing.

For example, a puppy who is having problems breathing may adopt unusual positions to aid maximize oxygen intake, such as keeping the head and neck extended or holding the elbows wide apart and away from the body.

How to treat your puppy breathing fast while sleeping 

The optimal treatment for your dog’s respiratory problems will ultimately be determined by the underlying reason. 

If your pup is breathing fast while napping, it might be a good idea to check other factors to know what to do next.

Waking your dog can be an acceptable way to check whether they were dreaming, but waking them out of REM sleep can be just as disorienting for them as it would be for you! If you choose this course of action, calmly call her name and reassure them that everything is okay.

  • To aid in the recovery of your dog’s health, your veterinarian may prescribe pain relievers, intravenous fluids, or other treatments.
  • Special training with a trained dog behaviorist may be recommended if your dog is breathing rapidly because of stress or anxiety.
  • Rest and oxygen therapy will almost certainly be required to get your dog on the path to recovery. While most dogs may be treated at home, in some circumstances, hospitalization may be necessary to monitor the dog’s breathing and address the underlying health condition.

How to prevent your puppy from breathing fast and shallow while sleeping

You may not prevent your puppy from breathing fast during sleep, and in fact, you don’t always have to. Don’t forget that your puppy is having fun in dreamland during his REM cycle and developing his respiratory systems.

Adult dogs are different, and it’s important to note that quick breathing might cause other health problems.

  • Checking your puppy’s gums and body temperature regularly will help you keep track of their health.
  • It’s also crucial for them to eat well! Because certain foods we eat, such as onions and garlic, are difficult for your companion’s stomach to tolerate, it’s crucial to keep these foods out of their reach. Remember to store leftovers in the fridge for later consumption, not in your dog’s dish! 

Always remember your puppy is more prone to breathing fast during his sleep because he is in some wonderland with so much glee and this differs from panting to cool himself down.

However, if the fast breathing continues after he wakes, now, there is cause for alarm. Ensure that the veterinarian checks him for all the causes listed and more.

Don’t forget that you can now determine your pup’s breath rate. This would prevent you from panicking unnecessarily as you can if it was his normal rate or not.