What do you do for a dog with labored breathing? Here’s What to Expect

What are the signs of labored breathing in dogs?

When dogs are having difficulty breathing, you are more likely to notice one of more of the following symptoms:

  • Constant panting
  • Blue-tinged gums
  • Foaming or frothing at the mouth
  • Stretching the neck out to breathe
  • Belly heaving in and out more as they breathe
  • Persistent cough, especially at night
  • An increased respiratory rate > 40 bpm
  • An unusually hoarse sounding bark
  • Sighs of anxiety such as restlessness or pacing
  • Exercise intolerance (most notably, when you take them for a walk)
  • Sitting up with a wide stance to breathe (front legs/elbows spread out)
  • What is Labored Breathing in Dogs and Cats?

    In order to recognize when your cat or dog is having trouble breathing, its important to understand the differences between breathing quickly (called tachypnea), and actually struggling to breathe (called dyspnea).

  • Tachypnea is the fast breathing we all experience when exercising. If you take your dog out for a run, they may pant and breathe quickly but this does not mean that your dog is having difficulties breathing.
  • Dyspnea is the term for labored breathing in cats and dogs. This term means that your animal is actually having difficulties taking breaths, or is short of breath.
  • Labored breathing is considered to be a veterinary emergency and requires immediate medical attention. But, how can you tell if your pet is struggling to breathe properly? When dogs and cats experience difficulties with their breathing, they will generally exhibit quite different symptoms.

    How to help a dog breathe better

    Dog breathing problems can be fatal so the first step should always be to contact your vet who will advise you on what to do next. This will ensure your dog gets the treatment they need as quickly as possible.

    After you have contacted your vet, make sure your dog is as comfortable as possible as you safely transport them to the clinic. Here are our tips for transporting a pet in an emergency.

    3 Types of Dog Breathing Problems and What to Do