SlimDoggy Health Check: Respiratory Disorders – Breathing Problems

Share Button

Next up in our SlimDoggy Health Check Series is Respiratory disorders. We previously wrote about SlimDoggy’s cousin Taj and her problems with pneumonia which is obviously a major respiratory problem. We also discussed Lungworm in our Parasite post. Today we will cover a few other common breathing problems in dogs:
Dyspnea is troubled or labored breathing and Tachypnea rapid breathing, and panting are three respiratory conditions that may afflict your dog. Many dog’s may experience rapid breathing after exercise or when they are excited. The key difference is rapid breathing or panting to cool down that abates as the dog rests and breathing problems that persist. It’s important to know the difference between a breathing problem and a ‘look-alike’ issue.
Symptoms of Dyspnea are:

  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Breathing with open mouth
  • Blue-tinged gums
  • Hunched position or with elbows out
  • Constant coughing
  • Foam or froth at the mouth

It’s a long list and not full inclusive, so if you see any of these, it’s smart to call your vet. It can be caused by a wide variety of physical issues including: diseases of the nose, throat, lungs, windpipe or even the GI system – basically, any condition that may put abnormal pressure on the function of the lungs.


Signs of Tachypnea are fewer, although the problem is just as serious. The main symptom is rapid breathing with the mouth closed. If your dog is panting heavily or showing signs of tachypnea, it may be caused by low oxygen levels, low red blood cell count, asthma, fluid build up in the lungs or even cancer.

Panting is rapid, shallow breathing with an open mouth. It is usually created by hyperthermia (overheating), stress or some drug interactions and typically resolves itself when the animal rests or is removed from the stressor.
Dyspnea and Tachypnea are diagnosed through a complete medical history as well as blood work, xrays, ultrasound and possibly fluid or tissue samples. It will be important to monitor the oxygen levels of your pet to ensure proper oxygenation, so they may be hospitalized. Treatment for both will be dependent upon the underlying cause. If the dog suffers from Dyspnea caused by an obstructed airway, the airway must be opened through intubation or with a tracheostomy.

We will cover more serious respiratory diseases in our next SlimDoggy Health Check post.
Note: SlimDoggy is not providing veterinarian advice in this series, we are only describing various health issues. If you suspect your dog is sick, see your vet for professional medical care.

Additional Readings:
Breathing Difficulties in Dogs
Breathing Problems in Dogs and Cats: Dyspnea
Breathing Difficulties in Dogs and Cats


Share Button


  1. Interesting. Katie has started doing some odd panting stuff lately. We are going to the vet later this month and will be having her checked out. Hopefully it is just an old age thing with her.
    Emma recently posted…Is Black Black?My Profile

  2. thanks for a post about a very serious topic. our husky girl had a breathing problem with a wet cough, the noise was scary sometimes… and I can’t count the sleepless nights we had till we found a vet who had a treatment for the reason and not only for the symptomas …
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog TASTY THURSDAYMy Profile

  3. Such important information. Respiratory issues can be such a mystery. Thanks for sharing this.
    Kristen–well minded recently posted…summer reptile adventures teach kids about #ReptileCareMy Profile

  4. What an interesting topic. Mila doesn’t usually pant but, after our walks she does a lot. Once we get into the lobby she plops right down on the cool floor as we wait for the elevator. They don’t last so I know they’re normal, but I definitely give her some extra attention. Great post, Slimdoggy!! Thanks for the information! 🙂
    Barkocity recently posted…4 Things Dogs Can Sense About UsMy Profile

  5. well done, signs everyone should be aware of and know to help save their dogs life if need be
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Splish Spash Blue Boy In The TubMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.