Heavy Breathing Dog Diagnosis

A heavy breathing dog can be caused by a wide range of factors including hot weather to cardiac problems. Identifying if the problem is serious is important to be able to seek help when needed. You can diagnose the heavy breathing in dogs by getting informed about the causes of this symptom.

Cardiac Problems

Cardiac problems such as congestive heart failure may cause panting in dogs. A cardiac problem may mean that the heart fails to pump enough blood to the organs, including the lungs. This means that the organs won’t get enough oxygen, so the dog may start to breathe heavily in attempt to compensate for the lack of oxygen. If the dog has a lack of oxygen, this may be visible in his gums; these will be pale and may even have a blue hue.

If the dog has heart failure, he may breathe normally when in an upright position; the heavy breathing may be present when the dog is lying down.


Allergies may cause the swelling of the air ways and this may affect the dog’s capacity to breathe. For this reason, he will breathe heavily.

Allergies may also be signaled by symptoms such as sneezing, dermatitis, swollen face or limbs, itchy skin or coughing.

If the dog’s allergies are severe, he may develop an anaphylactic shock, signaled by extreme swelling of the face and even air passages; in this case, you need to rush to the vet and get an epinephrine shot to reduce the swelling.

Respiratory Infections

If the respiratory infection is more advanced, this may affect the lungs and cause pneumonia.

Respiratory infections may be signaled by sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, runny nose and possibly fever.

Hot Weather

Heavy breathing may be caused by hot weather, especially if your pet has been sitting in the sun for an extended period of time.

Dogs don’t sweat through their skin, but eliminate the heat through their paws, tongue and by breathing. When the dog is overheated, he will breathe heavily.

Also, if your dog has been staying in a warm room or in an overheated parked car, he may be panting.

It is important to be able to detect a heat stroke; common symptoms of a heat stroke include fever, excessive salivation, shaking, vomiting, collapse or seizures. If you notice these symptoms, you should cool your dog down immediately, using cold compresses; don’t use ice packs, as these may cause the dog to overheat. You should also visit the vet to get some help and to establish if the dog is fine.

Heavy Breathing due to Pain

A dog in pain may start to breath heavily. This reaction is more frequent than crying due to pain. The dog may be in pain due to different health conditions or injuries, so you should check him and visit the vet to see what is wrong with your pet. Keep an eye on your dog to see any other symptoms he may display. 

Other causes of heavy breathing in dogs may include obesity and the presence of heartworms.