Why Do Puppies Breathe Fast While Sleeping?

Last updated on: Feb 05, 2024

By: Angela Reeves

Siberian Husky Puppy Sleeping

Were you scared the first time you saw your puppy breathing too fast while sleeping? You're not alone, and it can be very unsettling. But don't worry, it's often a normal part of puppy development.

This article aims to clarify why puppies sometimes breathe quickly while sleeping. It's important to understand what's normal in your puppy's behavior, especially when everything is so new and a bit overwhelming. So let's dive in.

Breathing Patterns

Puppies' breathing can seem complex, but it's straightforward once you understand the basics.

Normal Breathing Rates

Generally, a healthy puppy's breathing rate can range from 15 to 40 breaths per minute. However, this can vary, depending on their age and breed.

As puppies grow, their breathing rate gradually slows. Adult dogs have a slower and more regular breathing pattern. This is part of their natural development, so don't panic if your puppy's breathing changes over time.

If you'd like to know more, we have a separate article about puppy sleep schedule and habits.

How to Monitor Your Puppy’s Breathing

Keeping an eye on your puppy's breathing is easier than it sounds. You can do this by counting how many times their chest rises and falls in one minute. The best time to check is when they are relaxed or asleep.

Normal Reasons for Fast Breathing While Sleeping

Dreaming during REM Sleep

Just like us, puppies dream! During the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep, it's normal for their breathing to become faster and irregular. For the same reason puppies sometimes shake in their sleep. This is when they're in deep sleep, possibly chasing dream squirrels!

Relaxing after Exercise

After a good play session, puppies often breathe faster as they rest. Their little bodies are recovering from the exercise, and faster breathing helps in this process.

Cooling Down

Puppies are not as good at regulating their body temperature as adult dogs. Fast breathing helps them adjust their body temperature. So, if it's a bit warm or after some active play, you might notice an increase in their breathing rate.

These scenarios typically don't pose a risk and are part of normal puppy behavior.

When to Consult a Vet: Red Flags

It's important to know when rapid breathing goes from normal to a veterinary red flag. Here's how to tell the difference and know when it's time to call your veterinarian:

Persistent Fast Breathing

Occasional fast breathing is expected, especially after play or during dreams. However, persistent fast breathing without an obvious reason needs your attention. It's  probably time to see your vet.

Changes in Behavior and Appetite

Sudden loss of energy or appetite coupled with rapid breathing may indicate health problems.

Signs of Physical Distress

Difficulty breathing, changes in gum color (to blue or very pale), heavy panting at rest, flared nostrils, or a stretched neck are all red flags. These symptoms can mean serious conditions like respiratory distress or cardiovascular problems.

Other Symptoms

Fainting, extreme fatigue or unresponsiveness combined with rapid breathing are the signs that you need to take your puppy to the vet.

If you're unsure, it's wise to consult a veterinarian for advice and possible early detection of health issues.


Most often, fast breathing in sleeping puppies is perfectly normal. However, understanding when this behavior might signal a health concern is key to their wellbeing. Always trust your instincts about your puppy's health and consult a vet if you have concerns.

Learn more about your puppy's behavior: why they hiccup and why they sometimes scratch the floor. We also have a guide on how to stop your puppy from jumping up on people.

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