Grunting in a dog can be a way of communication. Grunting and wheezing together, however, can often signal a medical problem.
Dogs grunt for any number of reasons. Pleasure driven grunting occurs when a human pets a dog in a favourite spot, or when scratching an itchy ear. Pain driven grunting occurs when a dog moves in a painful way, or an arthritic dog gets up.
Medical problems such as allergies, heartworms or kennel cough cause grunting and wheezing in dogs. Dogs develop allergies to food or environment. Infected mosquitoes carry heartworms. Kennel cough is usually picked up at a shelter or boarding facility.
Some causes of wheezing and grunting in dogs are more serious than others, and require medical help. If your dog is obviously grunting from distress rather than pleasure, a visit to the vet is in order. Vets can diagnose and treat serious maladies like kennel cough and heartworms. They can also prescribe antihistamine drugs or a change in diet to help most allergies.
A dog who wheezes for less than 30 minutes usually does not require medical treatment. If your dog's wheezing is persistent and frequent, it is best to take it to the vet.
If your dog is wheezing and grunting because the air is dry, try an air humidifier to see if that helps. For allergies, try to find the source of the allergy and keep the dog away from it.
Monthly heartworm prevention medication helps dogs avoid contracting the parasite. Annual kennel cough vaccinations help dogs avoid contracting the illness.