Treating Dog Breathing Problems

Dog breathing problems may be caused by infections, heart problems, allergies, heat strokes or simply because they have a certain facial shape. The treatment of dog breathing problems can depend on the factor causing it; however, there are a few remedies that work regardless of the cause of the breathing difficulties.

Breathing Problems in Dogs

Breathing problems in dogs may be of several types:

  • Panting, which occurs when the dog tries to cool down; excessive panting can indicate a heart condition, heat stroke or pain
  • Gasping, may be caused by a foreign object swallowed by the dog
  • Coughing can indicate a respiratory infection or kennel cough
  • Sneezing, may be caused by allergies, the ingestion of a foreign object
  • Reversed sneezing, when the dog suddenly pulls air in the nose

It is important to be familiar with your dog’s breathing patterns and notice whenever problems occur.

Normally, dogs have a breathing rate of 12 to 20 breathes per minute.


A dog may have breathing difficulties if the air passages are swollen and irritated. This may be due to allergies, asthma, sinus problems or respiratory tract infections.

The steam heat may relax the air passages and make the breathing less problematic.

You can fill your bath tub with hot water and allow the steam to form. Bring your dog into the bathroom, but don’t put the dog into the bath tub. Allow the dog to inhale the steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure the dog is comfortable and keep an eye on him; if he collapses, you should take him out of the bathroom and consult the vet.

Apply steam treatment once or twice per day until the dog shows signs of improvement.

Saline Nose Drops

Breathing problems are often caused by the excess of mucus secreted; the mucus can block the air passages and the dog will have breathing difficulties.

Apply some saline nose drops to clear the air passages; use a syringe or an eye dropper and administer no more than 5 to 10 drops of solution 3 to 4 times per day.


If the breathing problems are caused by allergies and an excess of histamines, you may administer a few over the counter antihistamines such as Benadryl.

Honey or Maple Syrup

Honey or maple syrup can relieve the irritation of the throat and the air passages and may facilitate the breathing. Honey is particularly effective when the dog has a dry cough. Administer 1 tbsp of honey or maple syrup 1 to 2 times per day.

Don’t use products that contain alcohol or caffeine and always check with your vet prior to administering medication to your pet. If your pet displays additional symptoms such as shaking, pale or blue gums, vomiting, sudden collapse you should rush to the vet, as he may be poisoned, has a heat stroke or an anaphylactic shock.