Shallow Breathing in Dogs

Shallow breathing in dogs may be present after the dog has been exercising or running. However, shallow breathing may also be indicative of a health problem. Detecting the problem is critical, so that the dog can be treated and complications avoided.

Causes of Shallow Breathing

You can detect easily shallow breathing in your dog. Some of the most common causes of shallow breathing in canines include:

  • Respiratory infections such as the kennel cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Excessive heat or heat stroke
  • Asthma or constricted air passages
  • An object stuck in the respiratory tract of the dog
  • Severe allergies to different inhalants or food that cause the severe swelling of the respiratory tract
  • The dog may be in pain due to different injuries or health conditions
  • Increased heart rate, caused by exercising or a heart condition
  • Lack of oxygen

Additional Symptoms

Shallow breathing will also cause a faster breathing in canines. The breathing rate per minute is between 12 to 20 times, depending on the breed and the size of the dog. You can detect when your dog displays shallow and fast breathing by counting his breathing rate.

In addition, the dog may display some other symptoms that can indicate the problem. Some possible symptoms may include:

  • Pale gums or blue gums (indicative of a severe lack of oxygen)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Increased temperature
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting, sometimes with blood
  • Nasal or ocular discharges
  • Sneezing
  • Skin rashes and itchiness
  • Wheezing and breathing with the mouth open
  • Snoring

You should also examine your pet, as he may have an external or internal injury that causes pain and shallow breathing. Check the dog’s eyes, ears and nasal passages. There may also be visible injuries on the dog’s body.

Gently palpate the dog’s chest and stomach and if the dog shows he is in pain, he may have an internal injury or problem.

Measure your pet’s temperature and see if he may be affected by a heat stroke.

Monitor your pet and see when his breathing is abnormal. Some dogs may have shallow breathing only when sitting down or in a certain position.

Diagnosing Shallow Breathing

The vet will examine the dog and perform a few tests according to the dog’s symptoms and what the vet suspects to be the problem.

Blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds or allergy testing may be performed.

Treatment Options for Shallow Breathing

The treatment options for a dog experiencing shallow breathing will depend on the diagnosis.

Dogs with pneumonia or respiratory infections will get antibiotics.

If the dog has suffered from a heat stroke, he needs to be cooled down and the vet should also check if there is additional damage.

An anaphylactic shock or allergies will require an epinephrine shot or treatment with steroids or antihistamines.

Heart problems may also be managed with weight loss and medication.