Why is My Dog Breathing Fast While Sleeping

Why is My Dog Breathing Fast While Sleeping?

Dogs usually breathe faster than normal while they are sleeping for a number of reasons such as a vivid dream or being too hot. However, sometimes fast breathing can be a sign of an illness or medical condition such as asthma or a respiratory infection. Breathing issues can impact a dog’s health.

Dogs sometimes do strange things when they are in a deep sleep. Some dogs bark, kick their legs, and even growl while sleeping. 

What if My Dog is Breathing Fast While Sleeping
What if My Dog is Breathing Fast While Sleeping?

However, what does it mean when a dog is breathing fast while sleeping? 

What if My Dog is Breathing Fast While Sleeping?

In this article, we will be explaining some of the common causes for dogs breathing fast while sleeping. 

While the majority of the time a dog’s rapid breathing is nothing to be concerned about you should always pay attention to your pet.

In addition, we will also be explaining some causes for other strange breathing while sleeping in dogs, and when you should see a vet about this occurrence. 

Keep reading to learn more!

Is It Normal for Dogs to Breathe Fast While Sleeping? 

Is It Normal for Dogs to Breathe Fast While Sleeping
Is It Normal for Dogs to Breathe Fast While Sleeping?

There are many common reasons why dogs breathe fast while sleeping. Most often these causes are natural and nothing that dog owners should worry about. 

However, sometimes fast breathing in dogs can be a sign of a more serious condition that requires a physical exam from your veterinarian. 

Here are some possible reasons your dog is not exhibiting a normal breathing rate while sleeping.  

Your Dog is Still a Puppy 

A puppy’s rapid breathing can be very noticeable but puppies naturally breathe faster than adult dogs. This includes when they are both awake and asleep. 

The natural healthy breathing rate for a puppy is 15 to 40 breaths per minute. Adult dog’s respiratory rate is 10 to 30 breaths per minute. 

Although 30 to 40 breaths per minute are completely normal and healthy in puppies, it can still be alarming to new puppy owners. 

Experts recommend that you keep your puppy in a cool and comfortable environment while they are sleeping. This will ensure that your puppy doesn’t become too hot while they are resting. 

In addition, you should keep an eye out for signs of an illness or breathing difficulty in your dog. We will list the signs of these later in this article. 

Your Dog is Dreaming 

Do Dogs Dream?

Do Dogs Dream
Do Dogs Dream?

I guess the first thing we need to clarify is that, yes, dogs do dream when they sleep.

Dogs sometimes act strangely when they are having a bad dream and will do things like bark and kick their legs as if they were running. 

This behavior occurs during a dog’s REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and quick and irregular breathing is also common during this period of a dog’s sleep. 

As a result, your dog could very likely be breathing fast while sleeping because they are having a vivid dream during this part of their sleep cycle. 

This is usually the cause for a dog breathing fast while sleeping if they only do it for a few minutes at a time at scattered intervals. 

This is because REM sleep in dogs only lasts for about two to three minutes, and it usually takes about twenty minutes for dogs to fall into REM sleep. 

Your Dog is Hot 

Dogs pant and breathe quickly when it is hot as a way to cool themselves down. This is a completely natural response to the heat. 

However, you will need to make sure that you avoid things like dehydration and heatstroke in your dog. Dogs are susceptible to heat exhaustion just as humans.

dog heat exhaustion
dog heat exhaustion

The best way to avoid both of these is to ensure that your dog always has access to shade and plenty of clean, fresh water. 

In addition, you may also need to bring your dog into a cool, indoor area if it gets excessively hot out. This is especially true for puppies and older dogs. 

Your Dog Was Just Exercising 

In addition to heat, dogs also pant as a way to cool themselves down after exercising, even when it is cool outside. 

This is likely the cause for heavy panting or rapid breathing fast while sleeping if they had just finished running around or going on a long walk. 

Dogs With Flat Faces Can Have a Hard Time Breathing 

Dogs with short snouts tend to have a harder time breathing normally than other types of dogs. They are called brachycephalic breeds.

These dogs can sometimes be more prone to other types of respiratory problems such as respiratory infections as well. 

Flat Face Dog Breeds
Flat Face Dog Breeds

Flat Face Dog Breeds

  • Boston Terriers 
  • Boxer
  • Chow Chow
  • Pugs 
  • French Bulldogs 
  • English Bulldogs 
  • Pekingese
  • Shih Tzus 

If you have a dog with a flat face then it may be a good idea to talk with your vet about their breathing. 

They will be able to give you some signs to look out for and some tips for making your dog more comfortable while sleeping.

Dog Health Issues that Causes Difficulty Breathing

Here is a brief list of potential dog health issues that could cause rapid breathing.

Dog Anxiety

Anxiety can strike dogs as well as humans and may explain some strange behaviors with them such as breathing issues.

Dog Anxiety
Dog Anxiety

Otherwise, healthy dogs can suffer from this issue so always be on the lookout for signs of anxiety in your pet.

Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs

Laryngeal Paralysis causes a kind of narrowing of a dog’s larynx which can result in difficulty breathing.

You may or may not notice ‘faster breathing’ but you will notice a difficulty in breathing.

Dog Respiratory Infection 

Sometimes quick breathing can be a sign of a respiratory infection, and this quick breathing commonly occurs while a dog is both asleep and awake. 

Usually, fast breathing is also paired with other symptoms. 

Common Signs of Respiratory Infection in Dogs 

  • Coughing and wheezing 
  • Sneezing 
  • Face and Nose Irritation (usually seen by a dog pawing at these areas and trying to rub it on surfaces) 
  • Unusual discharge from eyes and nose 
  • Lethargy 
  • Fever 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Gagging and dry heaving

If your dog is showing any signs of breathing difficulties or a respiratory infection then you should take them to the vet immediately. 

Dog Asthma 

Asthma can also be a cause of dogs breathing fast while sleeping. This condition is almost always accompanied by other symptoms along with fast breathing in dogs

Dog Asthma
Dog Asthma

Common Signs of Asthma in Dogs 

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Coughing 
  • Wheezing 
  • Lethargy 
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Blue nose and gums (extremely severe, visit emergency vet immediately if this is present) 

It is important to visit a vet as soon as possible if you suspect that your dog has asthma.

They will be able to effectively diagnose and treat your dog’s asthma. 

In addition, they will be able to give you some tips on how you can eliminate risk factors that could cause your dog’s asthma to flare up. 

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

In some very rare cases, fast breathing can be a sign of heart problems in a dog. 

Like all of the other illnesses and medical conditions on this list, congestive heart failure is always accompanied by other symptoms in addition to breathing faster. 

Signs of Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs 

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargy 
  • Abdominal distension ( a swollen tummy) 
  • Enlarged liver 

If you believe that your dog is having congestive heart failure then you need to visit an emergency vet immediately. 

Sometimes the underlying cause of this condition is a heartworm infection, and other times it is caused by an existing heart condition. 

The potential of heart disease in your dog should be taken seriously.

Other Dog Health Issues That Cause Respiratory Distress


Pain can sometimes cause a dog to breathe faster than normal or pant excessively. Of course, you should visit a vet as soon as possible if you believe that your dog is in pain. 

Common Signs of Pain in Dogs 

  • Lethargy 
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Limping or having difficulty walking 
  • Trembling 
  • Whining or yelping 
  • Avoiding being touched 
  • Extreme anxiety 
  • Hiding 

Pain relief can slow down your dog’s breathing to a normal rate. Oftentimes, just some extra attention and comfort from you can accomplish this.

What Does it Mean if my Dog is Panting While Sleeping? 

Like fast breathing, dogs usually pant in their sleep because it is hot outside or they had recently exercised. 

Dogs can not sweat, so they pant as a way to cool themselves down during these situations. 

As long as there are no signs of dehydration or heat stroke, a dog panting in its sleep is usually not something that a dog owner should worry about.  Ask a vet if you are unsure.

Dog Dehydration

Dehydration can be a dangerous condition in dogs when severe. If your dog is showing extreme signs of dehydration then you should take them to a vet as soon as possible. 

Signs of Dehydration in a Dog 

  • Reduced skin elasticity 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Lethargy 
  • Excessive panting 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Dry nose, eyes, and gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva 

Dog Heatstroke

Heatstroke is yet another extremely serious medical condition in dogs. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from a heat stroke then you should visit a vet immediately. 

Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs 

Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs
Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Signs of dehydration 
  • Excessive panting and drooling 
  • Increased breathing rate 
  • Skin that is hot to the touch 
  • Bright red gums and tongue 
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Trouble staying balanced 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Blue nose and gums 

It is important to note that a dog’s breathing rate is not accurately represented while they are panting. 

Therefore, if you are trying to calculate your dog’s breathing rate and they are panting it is not valid. 

Wait until your dog is breathing normally again in order to calculate it accurately. 

Why is My Dog Breathing Heavily While Sleeping? 

The reasons behind why dogs sometimes breathe heavily in their sleep are very similar to those for why dogs may breathe quickly while sleeping. 

Usually, dogs are breathing heavily in their sleep because they are dreaming. 

However, this type of breathing can also be caused by illnesses and medical conditions such as respiratory infections on rare occasions as well. 

As a result, it is recommended that you visit a vet if your dog’s heavy breathing seems unusual, or if they are exhibiting other strange symptoms along with heavy breathing. 

How Fast do Dogs Breathe Compared to Humans? 

The average respiratory rate for people is 12 to 20 breaths per minute. 

Although this is pretty similar to dogs, adult dogs can commonly have a faster breathing rate of 30 breaths per minute (or 40 breaths per minute for puppies). 

This is breathing rate is considered both normal and healthy for a dog. 

Although this is a seemingly small difference between breathing rates on paper, a dog’s breathing can appear much faster than a human’s in real life. 

Why do Dogs Breathe so Much Faster Than Humans? 

Fast breathing is the main way that dogs cool themselves down after exercising and when it is warm outside. 

They have to do this because dogs do not have to sweat to cool their bodies down as people do. This is why a faster breathing rate is normal and healthy in dogs. 

When Should You See a Vet? 

Knowing when to see a vet about fast breathing or panting can be very helpful for new pet owners. 

Here is a compiled list of things that we have mentioned in this article and whether or not visiting a vet is recommended by experts. 

Remember! If you have any doubt call your vet. We are not recommending any type of medical care or not. That is up to you to decide. We are just providing information.

Cause For Fast BreathingSee a Vet? 
It is hot outside (no signs of dehydration or heat stroke) No 
Your dog has just exercise (no signs of dehydration or heat stroke) No 
Your dog is a puppy (with a breathing rate between the normal 15 to 40 breaths per minute) No 
Your dog is dreaming No 
Your dog is showing signs of asthmaYes 
Your dog is showing signs of having breathing difficulties Yes 
Your dog is showing signs of pain Yes 
Your dog is showing signs of having a respiratory infection Yes 
Your dog is showing signs of congestive heart failureYes 
Your dog is showing signs of extreme dehydrationYes 
Your dog is showing signs of a heat strokeYes 
Reasons to Call Your Veterinarian


Although it can sometimes be alarming, fast breathing while sleeping is not an uncommon occurrence in dogs. There is an old saying, let a sleeping dog lie. 

Dogs breathe quickly to cool their bodies during hot weather and after exercising. In addition, dogs commonly breathe quickly while they are in REM sleep. 

However, in some cases, abnormal breathing can be a sign of an illness or medical condition when it comes to dogs. 

You should always make note of any troubling or unusual signs of illness or disease in your dog and call your vet if they are present.

why is my dog breathing fast while sleeping

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