Well, hello there human! My name is Ollie, you friendly neighborhood bulldog. Looks like you’re here because you’re worried that your dog is hyperventilating, and rightfully so.
Us dogs pant and breathe quickly when we’re hot and excited, but if you think that your dog is hyperventilating, that could be a problem.
If your dog is hyperventilating, it may be an indication of a more serious cause or disease. Don’t worry, today I’ll explain why your dog might be hyperventilating, and tell you what you should do about it to make sure your best friend stays healthy and happy.
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What is Dog Hyperventilation?
Hyperventilation in dogs is similar to hyperventilation in your humans: fast and uncontrollable breathing. Hyperventilation in dogs happens when there isn’t enough oxygen in the body to go around, causing your dog to struggle to breathe.
Signs that Your Dog is Hyperventilating
The most obvious sign that your dog is hyperventilating is if you notice him open mouth breathing or panting without stopping, without another reason for it to be happening, such as eating. This is also often accompanied by lots of drooling because the mouth is open for so long without swallowing.
Your dog might be unable to take long, normal deep breaths while hyperventilating, which may also lead him to become weak and collapse from a lack of oxygen to the body. If this happens, your dog’s gums might also change to blue or pale pink, and you should bring them to the vet right away.
If these signs are left untreated, hyperventilation for long periods of time can lead to serious consequences for your dog, such as heart failure, organ damage, or tissue damage.
Other symptoms of a dog hyperventilating include:
- Rapid breathing
- Heavy panting or excessive open mouth breathing
- Taking short breaths
- Blue or pale pink gums
- Excessive drool while open mouth breathing
Causes of Dog Hyperventilating
Take it from a dog who has experienced hyperinflation, it is even scarier for us than it is for you. There are many things that can cause us to hyperventilate, but luckily, many of these things are avoidable. Some of the causes only lead to short-term hyperventilation, and some lead to more serious problems, but it is important to avoid hyperventilation in your dog completely.
To help you out, here are some of the main causes of dog hyperventilation:
As dogs, we don’t really like heat, and high temperatures generally aren’t good for us. Exercising your dog in high temperatures can lead to overheating and other heat-related conditions, such as heat stroke.
We pant to cool ourselves off, which would be considered short-term hyperventilation. However, if our body temperature gets too high and fails to cool down, this can lead to serious heat-related symptoms, such as fainting or fever.
So, if you think your dog’s hyperventilation is because of the heat, it’s important to cool your pup down as soon as possible. This can easily be done by moving to a shady spot away from the sun or using cold water and an ice pack.
However, overheating is preventable, and the best way to avoid overheating in your dog is to prevent it in the first place. A hot day is not the time to take us with you on your five-mile jog. Instead, bring us for walks in the early morning or the evening when it is the coolest. If you do take us out on a hot day, make sure you pack enough water for us to drink and cool down!
As dogs we can get stressed just as much as you humans can! We usually pant heavily when we experience pain, anxiety, or large amounts of stress. For example, if your dog suffers from separation anxiety, he might begin to breathe heavily and hyperventilate as you get ready to leave. You might also find us hyperventilating in new and stressful situations, such as newly adopted puppies entering their new home for the first time.
To calm a dog who’s hyperventilating from stress or pain, try to make him as comfortable as possible. Remove your dog from a stressful situation as soon as you recognize his stress, and plan ahead if you have to go somewhere but know your best friend hates it when you leave. You can do this by giving him calming treats that contain soothing ingredients such as hemp and chamomile.
Worse comes to worst, I hear the vet sometimes has special anxiety medication for dogs, and although we hate the vet, we hate being stressed even more, so it might be worth a try!
Metabolic acidosis sounds like a complicated term, but it is actually pretty straightforward. It is a condition where increased amounts of acid disrupt your dog’s normal blood pH.
However, this condition is serious, and is often the result of an underlying problem in the liver or kidneys, or the result of poisoning from ingesting toxic substances. Symptoms of metabolic acidosis include:
If you suspect your dog has metabolic acidosis, make sure to take him or her to the vet immediately.
This is a cause of hyperventilation that is very common in us dogs!
A reverse sneeze occurs when your dog takes long, rapid breaths. You’ll usually notice us snorting if this happens. Reverse sneezing is common in breeds such as pugs, boston terriers, and my breed, the bulldog.
Dog hyperventilation caused by reverse sneezing is usually nothing to be worried about. However, if you think that your pup has chronic reverse sneezing, or notice that they choke or faint, you should take them to the vet right away to get checked out.
Anaphylaxis or Allergic Reaction
Just like you humans, us dogs experience allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Dogs can have allergic reactions to many things, such as:
- Seasonal irritants like pollen and plants
- Chemicals in fragrances and perfumes
- Insect stings
- Vaccinations and medications
- Food (typically accompanied by other symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting)
Minor allergies can be treated by medication or antihistamines, but if your dog’s symptoms don’t go away in half an hour or so, call your vet. In severe cases, in addition to hyperventilating your dog might also experience dizziness, fainting, and weak pulses.
Treating a Dog Hyperventilating
How you treat your hyperventilating dog depends on the root cause of the hyperventilation. Cooling down your dog’s body temperature or using vet-prescribed medication can be a good initial treatment to stabilize a hyperventilating dog. Your vet might even suggest supplemental oxygen.
In severe cases that involve underlying conditions, surgery may be needed to treat hyperventilation, especially if an airway is obstructed. But don’t worry, under most circumstances, medication is enough to treat your hyperventilating pup.
Well, human, I guess that’s it! I hope that I gave you all of the information you need to recognize whether or not your dog is hyperventilating and how to treat it. The best way to prevent hyperventilation is to make sure we aren’t stressed, and to keep us out of the heat!