Is Your Dog Hyperventilating? Here's Everything You Need to Know About Dog Hyperventilation

Is Your Dog Hyperventilating? Here's Everything You Need to Know About Dog Hyperventilation

Posted by Volhard Dog Nutrition on Jun 8th 2022

We know that dogs pant in order to regulate their body temperature and make up for their limited ability to sweat. But have you noticed your dog panting excessively lately? Did symptoms such as rapid breathing, respiratory distress, and increased body temperature follow breathing difficulties? Your canine companion might be dealing with dog hyperventilation!

Although not common amongst the canine population, hyperventilation in dogs is a serious medical issue, one that must cause dog owners to seek veterinary attention immediately. In most cases, hyperventilation does not manifest itself alone: other medical issues, maybe unknown to the dog parent, work to exacerbate the hyperventilation symptoms. In other cases, dog owners might be confusing hyperventilation with other medical conditions, such as reverse sneezing. Whatever the underlying cause, your dog will struggle to breathe and might collapse without medical attention. That's why recognizing dog hyperventilation symptoms is essential to your canine companion's well-being!

Today's article will discuss the multiple facets of hyperventilation in dogs, from causes and symptoms to remedies, and teach each dog owner how to act at the sight of a hyperventilating dog.

What are the Main Dog's Hyperventilation Symptoms?

The name "dog hyperventilation" is exactly as it sounds. If your dog is hyperventilating, he will exhibit exacerbated breathing distress accompanied by rapid breathing; he will breathe faster and faster, trying to catch his breath. Impeded dog breathing is accompanied by other symptoms such as drooling, blue or pale oral tissue (e.g., gums, lips, and inner cheeks), and lethargy. In extreme cases, hyperventilation may lead to collapse, putting your dog's life in jeopardy. The last symptom is the most dangerous of them all, as a collapsed dog can go into heart failure.

What Other Signs Can Your Dog's Hyperventilation Be Associated With?

Aside from being a medical emergency, hyperventilation can also act as a symptom of other medical issues, such as heat stroke, reverse sneezing, stress, and even overexcitement!

#1: Imbalanced Body Temperature and Heat Stroke

With the fast-approaching days of a potentially warm summer, dogs are at risk of experiencing a heat stroke, and hyperventilation is a potential symptom of this heat-related illness. Since dogs cannot sweat through their skin, they use panting and their paws to bring their body temperature to appropriate levels. However, these two methods are not as effective during torrid days, thus putting your dog at a higher risk of overheating. Symptoms such as a blood rush to the oral tissue, as well as extreme salivation and acute breathing difficulties, accompany a sharp rise in temperature to 106 °F, at which dogs lose their ability to cool themselves. These symptoms can quickly become life-threatening through the danger of seizures and death.

Do not hesitate to see a vet immediately after you notice your dog hyperventilating. Veterinary medicine will include applying alcohol to the ears and paws and cool IV fluids for heat reduction. Urgent veterinary care could include a breathing tube and artificial ventilation in more severe cases. Remember, dogs do not always pause from their regular activities when overheating, so pay close attention to your dog and his symptoms before they can worsen.

#2: Reverse Sneezing

The most common medical issue dog hyperventilation can be associated with is paroxysmal respiration or reverse sneezing. When experiencing this condition, dogs make a snort-and-sucking sound in response to an irritant (e.g., nasal mites, pollen) or something they inhaled. Dogs will continue breathing fast until the irritant is finally eliminated, thus giving out the impression of hyperventilation. If your dog has a narrow nasal passage, he might be predisposed to reverse sneezing.

Although they might look like they're having breathing problems, dogs usually relieve themselves of this condition on the spot, as paroxysmal respiration is a self-resolving medical issue that requires no medical treatment. You can gently pet your dog and comfort him until the episode passes.

#3: Stressful Situations

Stressful situations are another source of respiratory distress and potential hyperventilation in dogs. When a dog's anxiety levels hit the roof, their heart rate also increases, which means that a substantially larger quantity of blood gets pumped through the veins at a faster rate. Stressful situations such as separation anxiety or loud noises are everyday culprits behind elevated anxiety levels, so work towards eliminating the stressor in order to alleviate your puppy's anxiety levels and, consequently, his respiratory distress.

#4: Increased Respiratory Effort From Exercise

Labored breathing is a common symptom of dogs who overdo it during playtime or exercise. When burning energy through running, chasing, or playing tug-of-war, dogs need more oxygen to keep up with the added effort, and they receive supplemental oxygen through fast breathing. Although a dog breathing fast is no news for a dog owner who takes his canine companion out for playtime every day, breathing heavily for an extended period of time can prove hazardous to a healthy dog. Make sure you stop your dog from any current activity if he manifests any trouble breathing during playtime.

#5: Overexcitement and Excessive Panting

Finally, your dog's heavy breathing could be caused by something as simple as overexcitement. The sight of his favorite food, the sound of a brand-new squeaky toy, or even your return home after a long shift may be enough for your dog to revel in overexcitement. This uncontrollable burst of joy is, of course, not a medical issue, but if your dog is hyperventilating every time he's subjected to a trigger factor, his health could be at stake. It would be best if you consulted a veterinarian in order to avoid the possibility of an underlying condition.

Medical Issues to Consider When a Dog is Hyperventilating

Aside from these easily-recognizable signs of hyperventilation, multiple medical diseases with a serious say in a dog's breathing issues have been documented. For starters, laryngeal paralysis, a condition that impedes the usual airflow through the larynx (i.e., the airway connecting the throat and trachea), is connected to hyperventilation in dogs. When suffering from this condition, the nerves found in the larynx no longer communicate with the muscles moving the laryngeal cartilages. Instead of removing the cartilage from the air's path during inspiration and closing off the airway during expiration, the laryngeal muscles partially obstruct the airway, causing shallow breathing and hyperventilation. Laryngeal paralysis mostly affects older dogs, although its causes are not fully understood.

Another common culprit behind a dog hyperventilating is Cushing's disease, a condition linked with excessive levels of cortisol in a dog's body. Polyphagia (i.e., excessive hunger), polydipsia (i.e., excessive thirst), hair loss, and muscle atrophy are the most telling symptoms of this condition, although hyperventilating occurs on the symptom list as well.

Next, we have metabolic acidosis, a condition synonymous with a disruption in a dog's pH levels caused by food poisoning or something more severe, such as liver or kidney disease. Dogs manifest metabolic acidosis through vomiting, nausea, lethargy, and even hyperventilation. Pet owners can easily confuse these metabolic acidosis symptoms with other conditions, which is why taking your dog to the vet becomes essential.

Canine hyperventilation also occurs when an anaphylactic shock puts your dog's life in danger. This allergic reaction to a foreign body, such as a protein, insect bites, or medications, has the potential to turn into heart failure. A dog experiencing an anaphylactic shock will experience difficulty breathing, so you should take your dog to a vet as quickly as possible.

Finally, a respiratory disease with severe potential ramifications for a hyperventilating dog is kennel cough. This highly contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract leads to inflammation, particularly in the bronchioles and the trachea. The most telling symptom of this disease is a dry, hacking cough. Unfortunately, kennel cough is highly contagious—your dog only has to be in the presence of an infected dog in order to catch the multiple viruses ( mycoplasma, canine adenovirus, canine herpes virus, etc.) linked to kennel cough. Other symptoms associated with kennel cough are lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever.

Dogs with kennel cough present a higher risk of hyperventilation, so have your dog tested to find the root cause of the cough. From our experience, natural remedies such as honey, coconut oil, and cinnamon help neutralize the viral infection and bring the kennel cough symptoms under control, but don't hesitate to see a specialist for a solid diagnosis.

A Healthy Dog Equals a Happy Dog

Hyperventilation is always a symptom, not a condition, and dog parents must be equipped with every tool necessary to prevent hyperventilation in their canine companions. We hope that today's article has equipped you with all the knowledge you need to help keep your canine friend away from this distressing disease. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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