Diagnosing Dog Breathing Problems

Dog breathing issues may be caused by various factors and could be a cause for concern. Some dogs are more susceptible to respiratory problems due to the anatomy of their nose. These breeds are known as brachycephalic dogs and include the Pug, Boxer, Shih Tzu or the Pekingese. Diagnosing dog breathing problems should be based on several symptoms.

Dog Panting

If the dog is panting, this may be a signal that the dog is trying to regulate his body temperature and is normal, as dogs don’t sweat and they need to release the heat. However, if the panting is excessive, this may point to a heat stroke or that the dog is in pain. Other heat stroke symptoms include a red tongue, vomiting, confusion or sudden collapse. If the dog is panting due to pain, you should check his body for any unusual symptoms, injuries or wounds.

Canine Gasping and Coughing

Gasping and coughing can be caused by the blockage of the air passages by foreign objects or severe allergies. This symptom is alarming and you should visit the vet immediately.

Coughing may also indicate that the dog has the kennel cough, which is a contagious infection. This infection will typically go away without treatment, however, puppies and dogs with a compromised immune system should be checked out by a vet to prevent any possible complications.


Sneezing is a symptom that may point to canine allergies or the inhalation of a foreign object. The foreign object may be removed at home, but if it is lodged too deeply in the dog’s nose, you should visit a vet.

Tumors or polyps may also cause sneezing and nose bleeding. A vet can determine if surgery is recommended and prescribe suitable treatment.

Reversed Sneezing

Reversed sneezing may be present in dogs and this happens when the dog suddenly pulls air into his nose making a sneezing like sound. However, this symptom is typically not severe.

If the dog presents other symptoms as well, you should consult a vet.

Gurgling Sounds

Gurgling sounds in dogs may be caused by several problems including laryngitis, pharyngitis, tracheitis, tumors in the air passages, pneumonia or heart failure. This symptom should be alarming; a vet will perform several analysis and x-rays to determine the problem.

Nasal Discharges

If the dog presents nasal discharges and has breathing difficulties, these symptoms may indicate that the dog is allergic or that he has a respiratory infection. Other symptoms must be identified to get a clear diagnosis. The discharge due to allergies is clear, while the nasal discharge in the case of infections is thicker and yellow or pink in color.

Knowing your dog’s breathing patterns is important to determine if there is anything wrong and if the breathing problem is an emergency. If you notice anything abnormal, you should visit the vet; the vet will perform a few tests to determine the causes and give you a diagnosis.