Puppies are peculiar creatures. They have a never-ending quest to chase and catch their tails, they're not graceful and they think the vacuum is a beast from the netherworld. It's not abnormal for your pup to breathe a little fast -- but watch for other symptoms to be sure.
At rest, a healthy dog's heart beats at a rate that's between 60 and 160 beats per minute. With puppies, you can toss that number out the window. The youngsters have a heart rate that's roughly 220 beats per minute, according to WebMD. As a dog's breathing increases, so does its heart rate, so it's normal for puppies to breathe a bit faster than their adult counterparts. However, a puppy should breathe only slightly faster than an adult dog. He shouldn't be panting -- unless he's hot or stressed -- and he shouldn't sound congested or have difficulty breathing.
Heartworms, anemia, asthma, hypoexmia and heart failure can cause rapid breathing in your puppy. However, in most cases, all those conditions come with other symptoms. Anemia, for example, will cause your puppy to lie around most of the day and eat less than normal. Asthma will make it difficult for him to breathe, while heartworms can cause him to have coughing fits while he's running around like a madman.
While you might imagine your puppy having a way less stressful life than you do, adjusting to new environments, being taught the rules of the house and even crate training can lead to stressful times. It's best to break up his socialization and training into small sessions so that he isn't overwhelmed by everything. If you just brought the little guy home, it's normal for him to appear stressed because of all the new stuff around him. Let him relax for a while and get used to everything.
Humans aren't the only ones to have dreams that are just a bit too vivid. When puppies catch some Z's, they're opening themselves up to a strange reality. All that excitement, and sometimes fear, that comes with their dreams can make them do some funny things in their sleep, like kick, whine, bark and breathe faster than normal. This is completely healthy, but your puppy should go back to breathing normally -- what's normal for a puppy anyhow -- once he wakes up.
If rapid breathing turns into panting, your puppy might be a bit on the warm side. Although a temperature of 70 degrees might feel just right to you, some puppies feel that's a little too hot and start panting even while they're sitting around. If he's lethargic, won't eat, vomiting or showing other adverse symptoms, make a vet appointment right away. Even if he's only panting and not experiencing any other symptoms, have a chat with your vet about it. In most cases, panting in itself just indicates your little guy is hot.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.