Why is My Dog Breathing Fast While sleeping? What You Need to Do

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It can be worrying and confusing, not to mention scary if your dog is panting really fast, especially when they’re sleeping. 

It’s perfectly natural to be worried about your dog when something is affecting how they breathe.

In most cases, there is no need to panic. Breathing fast while sleeping is often caused by something simple and easy to treat, like an allergy or an infection.

In this article, we’ll explain the possible reasons why your dog might be breathing fast while sleeping, and we’ll also provide some solutions that you can try at home.

How Fast is Too Fast For a Dog’s Respiratory Rate?

If you’re concerned that your dog is breathing too fast, there are a few things you can do to tell if your dog is acting normally.

close up of dog sleeping

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy dog should take between 15-30 breaths per minute. If your dog is taking more than 35 breaths per minute or 40 breaths per minute, they’re probably breathing too fast.

Another sign that your dog is not getting enough oxygen is if they are taking quick, shallow breaths.

Other Symptoms Resulting from fast Breathing During Sleep

You also need to watch out for other symptoms that may indicate your dog is struggling to breathe.

These include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Fast, strained, and heavy breathing
  • Drooling
  • Gums that are pale blue-tinged or deep pink or red
  • unwillingness to eat, drink or move
  • Breathing opened mouthed

Why is My Dog Breathing Fast While Sleeping? The Causes

It can be hard to figure out why this is happening, which is why we’ve put together this list of reasons why your dog might be breathing fast while sleeping:

Breeds and Breathing

Different breeds of dogs can have different respiratory rates.

different breeds

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

Some breeds are simply more prone to heavy or rapid breathing, due to their anatomy or physical build.

For example, short-nosed breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs often have trouble getting enough oxygen and may pant more than other breeds when resting.


After a long day of playing, walking, and exercising, it’s normal for your dog to be tired.

You may notice that they’re breathing faster than usual when resting or sleeping.

This is not something to worry about and it will usually go away after a good night’s sleep.


When in pain, dogs may start breathing more quickly as their body releases stress hormones in response to the pain.

If your dog is experiencing pain, you may notice other key signals, such as whimpering, crying, or unwillingness to move.

Dreamy Dreams

Just like us, dogs can go into REM sleep when they start dreaming.

During REM sleep, your dog might make little whimpering noises while dreaming, and their respiratory rate may become irregular as brain activity increases.

This is perfectly normal behavior for dogs whilst dreaming and nothing to worry about.


If your dog is panting excessively and their gums are bright red, the heat may be too much for them.

Dogs cool themselves by panting. If they are not able to do this effectively, they can overheat quickly, and this can lead to heat stroke.

If you think your dog might have a high body temperature, it’s important to move them to a cool, shady spot. You should also offer them some drinking water.


If your pup is usually calm and relaxed, but you notice that your dog is breathing quickly as they are sleeping, it could be a sign of anxiety or stress or maybe even a panic attack brought on by stress and anxiety.

This is often seen in dogs that have been through a traumatic experience, such as being abandoned or rehomed.

Common causes of anxiety in dogs include loud noises (thunderstorms, fireworks), changes in routine (going on vacation), and being left alone for long periods.

If you suspect that your dog is breathing fast because of anxiety, try the following to help your pup rest and relax:

  • Provide a safe space (a covered crate or bed)
  • Play calming music
  • Give them a favorite toy
  • Feed your dog a tasty calming treat.

Check out our related article, Signs of Anxiety in Dogs – How to Know if Your Dog is Anxious, for more helpful information on this subject.


Dogs with anemia may breathe faster than normal. This happens because their body is trying to get more oxygen to the tissues and organs.


Your dog’s respiratory rate could also be a sign of pregnancy. This is completely normal and is no cause for concern.

pregnant dog asleep

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

However, if your dog is pregnant and you notice any other strange symptoms, it’s always best to consult your vet just to be on the safe side.


Fast breathing while sleeping could be the result of nausea caused by an infection or illness.

If your dog has also been vomiting or has diarrhea, it’s best to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Reverse Sneezing

Reverse Sneezing is a condition that is often seen in short-nosed dogs, such as Pugs and Bulldogs.

It’s caused by the soft palate collapsing and blocking the airway.

This can cause your dog to make a honking noise and gasp for air.

Although it may look and sound frightening, it’s usually nothing to worry about and will resolve itself on its own.


If your dog is allergic to something environmental, such as pollen or dust, it can cause panting and increase their respiratory rate during sleep.

If you think your dog might be allergic to something, it’s best to contact your vet for advice.


Certain types of medication, such as steroids, can cause rapid breathing as a side effect.

This is usually not a problem and will go away once your dog finishes taking the medication.


A hernia is a condition where an organ or tissue protrudes through a hole in the body.

dog with a hernia

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

In some cases, a hernia can cause the intestines to block the airway, which can cause your dog to breathe fast.


Rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal passages. An infection, allergies, or a foreign object in the nose can cause it.

If your pup has rhinitis, it may sneeze more than normal and have a runny nose. In severe cases, it can lead to difficulty breathing.

Smoke Inhalation

If your dog has been in a fire or exposed to smoke, you need to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Smoke inhalation can cause serious damage to your dog’s health, including respiratory problems and even death.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can cause heavy panting and rapid breathing.

It’s often seen in dogs that have been in close contact with other dogs, such as at a kennel or dog park.

Partial Collapsed Trachea

A collapsed trachea is a condition where the windpipe partially collapses. This can be caused by coughing, obesity, or trauma.

Symptoms include a honking noise when your dog breathes, fainting, and difficulty breathing.

Stiffened Airways

If your dog’s respiratory tract has become stiffened or constricted, it can make breathing difficult.

dog with stiffened airways - why is my dog breathing fast while sleeping xray

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

An infection, allergies, or trauma can cause this. Coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing are all common signs.


Asthma is a condition that affects the lungs and airways. Caused by allergies, infections, or irritants in the environment.

Coughing, wheezing, and labored breathing are some of the signs of asthma.


Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that can be life-threatening. Signs of pneumonia include breathing fast, coughing, being very tired, and not wanting to eat.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is a health condition that affects the muscles in the larynx (voice box).

Causes include an injury, nerve damage, or tumors. Look out for a hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance.

Windpipe Obstruction

If something gets lodged in your dog’s throat, it can block the windpipe and make breathing difficult. A bone or toy can cause this.

This condition can be caused by an accumulation of mucus or fluid in the lungs. This can lead to coughing, gagging, and trouble breathing.

Poisoning from Onions or Garlic

If your pup ingests a large amount of onions or garlic, it can cause a condition called hemolytic anemia.

garlic and onions

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

This is a condition where the red blood cells are destroyed. Common indicators include pale gums, rapid breathing, and lethargy.

Heart Problems

If your dog has a heart condition, such as heart disease or congestive heart failure, they may start to breathe more quickly as their condition worsens.


In some cases, fast breathing while sleeping may be a sign of cancer.

This is usually only seen in older dogs and is often accompanied by other warning signs, such as weight loss, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

If you suspect that your pet may have cancer, it’s important to take them to the vet for a check-up as soon as possible.

Restricted Lungs

If your dog has lung problems, such as pneumonia or lung disease, it can cause them to start panting and breathing more quickly.

This is a serious condition that will require serious medical treatment.

Fluid getting Into The Lungs

This is usually a result of congestive heart failure. When the heart doesn’t pump properly, fluid can back up into the lungs.

This makes it difficult to breathe and can lead to rapid, shallow breathing.

How Do Vets Treat This Condition?

The treatment for your dog breathing fast while sleeping will depend on the underlying cause.

vet treating a dog - why is my dog breathing fast while sleeping

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

It could be due to a number of factors, but it’s best to rule out the more serious conditions including:

  • Infection
  • Allergies
  • Heart condition
  • Cancer

Once your veterinarian has correctly diagnosed the condition, they will be able to start your dog on the proper treatment.

This may include antibiotics, steroids, or other medications. In some cases, your vet may advise surgery.

How to Prevent It

There are some things you can do to help prevent your dog from developing problems with their breathing.

Allergies – try to avoid exposing them to allergens, such as pollen, dust, and mold.

Heart condition – make sure to give them their medication as prescribed and always take them to their vet appointments for check-ups.

Overweight – help them to lose weight by feeding them a healthy diet and exercising them frequently.

Respiratory infections – make sure to keep their vaccinations up to date and take them to the vet for a check-up if they start showing any signs of illness.

There are some easy-to-find items that you can use to calm your dog’s breathing when they’re sleeping.

Air Purifier

An air purifier can help to remove allergens and other irritants from the air, which may help to reduce your dog’s symptoms and help them rest.

Natural Remedies

To ease your dog’s breathing difficulties, natural remedies can be a great option to open up the airways and reduce inflammation.

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce swelling in the airways and make breathing and sleeping easier.

ginger root

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

The following essential oils should always be correctly diluted before administering to your pup, and you always follow the guidelines.

Here is a fantastic article that has some great safety tips for using essential oils on dogs.

Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, which help to clear mucus from the lungs and relieve congestion.

Lavender oil is a natural relaxant, it calms your dog and eases their breathing.

Peppermint oil has menthol, which can open up the airways and reduce congestion.

Herbal Supplements

A herbal supplement can also help to calm your dog’s breathing rate.

Marshmallow root reduces inflammation and clears mucus from the lungs.

Slippery elm bark coats the throat to ease coughing.

Thyme is an antimicrobial herb that kills bacteria and reduces congestion.


CBD oil is a natural remedy that has anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and anxiety-reducing properties.

This makes it a great option to help reduce breathing fast while sleeping.

When giving your dog natural remedies, always contact your vet first to make sure that they don’t react any with other medications your dog might be taking.


A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation in the airways and make your dog’s breathing easier.

Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, sardines, and flaxseed oil.


Moderate exercise will strengthen your dog’s respiratory muscles and make breathing easier.

dog exercising

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

However, be sure not to overdo it, as too much exercise can make breathing more problematic.

How to Help Your Dog Sleep More Easily

There are some things you can do to help your dog sleep more easily and calm their fast breathing.

  • Make sure their sleeping area is comfortable and free from allergens or other irritants.
  • Elevate their bed, so they are sleeping slightly higher up to ease fast breathing.
  • You can try a calming supplement to help your furry friend rest easier. Chamomile and lavender are two great options.
  • Make sure they are getting enough exercise during the day to help with better sleep at night.


At first, the question, “why is my dog breathing fast while sleeping?” may seem daunting. But as we’ve shown, there are several practical things you can do.

First, take note of your dog’s breaths. A normal, healthy

If you notice your dog breathing fast while sleeping, you can use an air purifier, try natural or herbal remedies, or give them CBD oil.

You can also make sure that their sleeping area is comfortable and allergen-free, and that they are getting a good diet and enough exercise during the day.

However, if your dog is acting sick in other ways, such as being very tired, coughing, or having problems breathing, it’s important to make an appointment with your vet right away.

Don’t forget to look around the site or bookmark us for later, we’ve got a wide range of material on all sorts of dog-related subjects that we’re constantly updating.

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All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian's advice.
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