New puppy owners are faced with a series of challenges. One such challenge is figuring out whether your new canine friend is breathing at a normal rate. Rapid breathing in puppies is sometimes, but not always, a problem that indicates the need for veterinary care.
The "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook" states that the average number of breaths per minute for a young puppy ranges from 15 to 35. A puppy's respiratory habits are considered rapid breathing if the number of breaths per minute exceeds 40 to 60.
There is a large variation between the average breaths per minute taken by individual dogs. To recognise rapid breathing, first observe how many breaths your puppy takes when at rest.
Rapid breathing is differentiated from panting. Dogs do not have sweat glands and must pant to regulate their internal temperature. Panting occurs on hot days, or after prolonged or vigorous activity. Occasionally, panting occurs during a dream while sleeping. If a puppy breathes rapidly in these situations, it is not usually a cause for concern.
Overweight puppies and dogs on certain medications are more prone to rapid breathing. Many health problems manifest with rapid breathing as a symptom, including allergic reaction and heart failure.
If your puppy is breathing rapidly and her activities are incongruent with panting, seek veterinary care. If rapid breathing is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhoea, pale gums or pale tongue, uncoordinated or lethargic movements or vocalisation of pain, seek emergency care immediately.