Dog Hyperventilating: Why It Happens, and What to Do About It

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If your dog is panting hard and rapidly, it's important to know what to do. A dog hyperventilating can be a sign of many different things, some serious and sometimes, not so serious.

It's always best to take your dog to the vet if you are concerned about the cause of their hyperventilation, but there are a few things that you can do at home to help make your dog more comfortable.

In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of dog hyperventilation as well as ways to help your pup breathe easier.


What defines dog hyperventilation


Dog hyperventilation is defined as an increased respiration rate that does not keep pace with the dog's metabolic needs.

In other words, your dog is panting more than what would be considered normal. While heavy panting can be normal for dogs in certain situations (after exercise, in hot weather, etc.), it becomes a cause for concern when it is excessive or out of proportion to the situation.

If you notice your dog hyperventilating, it's important to take note of other symptoms they may be experiencing and to contact your vet right away.


Symptoms of dog hyperventilation



While the causes of dog hyperventilation can vary, there are some common symptoms that you may notice if your dog is panting excessively.

These symptoms include:


- increased respiration rate
- heavy panting
- difficulty breathing
- anxiety or restlessness
- blue tinge to the gums or tongue


If you notice your dog hyperventilating with blue gums or with yellow skin, Contact your vet right away.


In some cases, dog hyperventilation is a sign of a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention.

In the case of the yellow skin (especially on the inside of the ears and on gums), it's highly indicative of a blood disorder, such as IMHA in dogs.


Causes of dog hyperventilation


What are the causes of dog hyperventilation? There are many potential causes of dog hyperventilation, some benign and some serious.

Some common causes include:

Excitement


Most of the time, a dog hyperventilating is usually caused by simple overexcitement.

When your dog knows you're going to the park, is she really thrilled? Out for a stroll? Do you have a doorbell? It's conceivable that your canine companion becomes overly ecstatic at these possibilities and hyperventilates as a result.

- anxiety or stress

Anxiety and stress are another common cause of dog hyperventilation. If your dog is anxious or stressed, they may start to pant excessively in an attempt to calm themselves down.

Common causes of anxiety and stress in dogs include loud noises (thunderstorms, fireworks), changes in the environment (moving to a new house), or separation anxiety.

Heatstroke

If your dog is panting excessively and seems to be struggling to breathe, they may be suffering from heatstroke.

Heatstroke occurs when a dog's body temperature becomes too high and their body is unable to cool itself down.

This can happen if your dog is left in a hot car, exposed to hot weather, or if

- heart disease

Heart disease is a common cause of dog hyperventilation, especially in older dogs. If your dog has heart disease, their heart may not be able to pump blood as efficiently as it needs to, leading to difficulty breathing and panting.

Other signs of heart disease in dogs include exercise intolerance, coughing, and fatigue.


Lung disease

Lung disease is another common cause of dog hyperventilation. If your dog has lung disease, they may have difficulty getting enough oxygen, leading to heavy panting.

Other signs of lung disease in dogs include coughing, exercise intolerance, and blue tinge to the gums or tongue.


Reverse sneezing

Reverse sneezing is a condition that causes dogs to make an "inhaling" snorting sound. It is caused by irritation in the dog's throat or nasal passages and usually resolves on its own.

However, if your dog is reverse sneezing excessively, it can lead to your dog hyperventilating.

This is common in short snout dogs, like Chihuahuas, Pugs, English bulldogs and the like.


Certain types of cancer


Certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer, can cause dog hyperventilation. If your dog has cancer, they may have difficulty breathing and may start to pant excessively.

Other signs of cancer in dogs include weight loss, lethargy, and appetite changes.


Side effects of certain medications


Certain medications, such as heart medications and steroids, can cause dog hyperventilation. If your dog is taking any medication, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the potential side effects. 

Usually drugs containing cortisone (Steroids), sometimes known as prednisone can cause your dog to hyperventilate.


How to diagnose and treat dog hyperventilation



If you're concerned that your dog may be hyperventilating more than usual, the first step is to contact your vet.

They will be able to perform a physical examination and order any necessary tests to determine the cause of your dog's panting.

Once the cause of dog hyperventilation has been determined, your vet will recommend the best course of treatment.

In some cases, dog hyperventilation can be a sign of a serious condition and require immediate medical attention, as mentioned earlier.


When to bring your dog to the vet


If your dog is panting excessively and seems to be struggling to breathe, it's important to bring them to the vet right away.

Other signs that your dog needs to see a vet include:


- blue tinge to the gums or tongue
- coughing heavily
- fatigue or lethargy
- weight loss

If you're unsure whether or not your dog needs to see a vet, it's always best to err on the side of caution and give them a call. They will be able to advise you on what steps to take next.


Prognosis for dog hyperventilation


The prognosis for dog hyperventilation varies depending on the underlying cause.

In some cases, dog hyperventilation is a sign of a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention.

If left untreated, dog hyperventilation can lead to collapse, unconsciousness, or even death. That's why it's so important to contact your vet if you notice your dog panting excessively.

They will be able to determine the cause of your dog's hyperventilation and recommend the best course of treatment.


Prevention tips for dog hyperventilation


There are a few things that you can do to help prevent dog hyperventilation:


- Make sure your dog has plenty of opportunities to exercise and burn off energy.
- Avoid exposing your dog to hot temperatures or extreme weather conditions.
- Do not give your dog any medications without first consulting with your vet.
- Try to keep your dog calm and relaxed in stressful situations.


If you're concerned about your dog's panting, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. They will be able to determine the cause of your dog's hyperventilation and recommend the best course of treatment.

Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for the successful management of dog hyperventilation.



about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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