Like me, you surely love to see your dog when he sleeps because of how calm and relaxed he is, it is likely that you have ever worried or scared to notice that he is breathing fast or very quickly and then you will wonder why my dog breathes Very fast when he sleeps.
The first thing you should know is that, if you have a healthy dog, it is quite normal for him to breathe very quickly during certain periods of sleep.
So I hope you can now better understand what this phenomenon is due to, we will explain some things about your dog’s breathing and sleep cycle.
The breathing So, in general terms, breathing in dogs is basically the same as in humans, in the sense that it consists of two processes: expiration and inspiration.
Dogs have a respiratory system responsible for carrying oxygen to all organs of their body. The thoracic cavity is the cause of respiratory movements, given by variations in the volume of air.
In puppies it is about 18 to 20 times per minute and in adults it is 25 times per minute if it is a small breed and 15 times per minute if it is a large breed, at rest.
When our dog is anxious or overactive after a state of physical activity (such as running, for example) or even when it is very hot, the respiratory rate can increase.
Understanding the above, why my dog breathes very fast when he sleeps is simply because when sleeping they can experience an increase in brain activity that can be compared to physical activity. When they rest, the dogs pass through several states of dreams, wherein some they are more alert than in others and when they reach the deep states it is where this brain activity triggers and presents itself as if the dog was doing some physical activity.
Stages and sleep patterns
- The first stage of sleep is that of drowsiness, it is the period in which our dog is between wakefulness and sleep, but, although the respiratory and heart rate decreases, the dog is still on alert.
- The second stage of sleep that our friend goes through is the light state, this stage is also known as “slow-wave” and being in this stage of sleep, although our dog is relaxed, stays alert and his breathing is slow.
- The third stage is that of deep or paradoxical sleep, at this stage rapid eye movement (REM) happens. It is the stage when you can see that your dog breathes very fast when he sleeps because of an increase in his cerebral activity.
According to PetMD during the REM you can your dog gets dreams & which makes sounds and breathes faster. Since in this state of deep sleep it is where you can say that the dog is dreaming.
Although you cannot know exactly what or if he is indeed dreaming, what is certain is that this phase is compared to the waking state. The reason is that it is right in this phase where all the information that has been collected and accumulated by the dog during the day is processed as if he was reliving them.
The acceleration in the respiratory rate in this last phase usually lasts at most a few minutes, which can also be seen in the movement of our dog’s chest and then return to the state of light sleep, where it becomes controlled and slow again.
What in any case is important to highlight, is that it is best to avoid waking our friend while in the REM stage. The reason is that as you go through this stage, you are likely to respond aggressively or disoriented if you wake up suddenly. It can even happen that when you wake up abruptly while you are in the REM phase, the accelerated breathing can continue a few seconds or minutes after waking up since it automatically changes to the alert state while still disoriented.
The changes in the cycles of dreams in dogs are something biological, therefore they will change according to the stage in which they are, according to Stephanie Pappas of LiveScience. Which means that in puppies the sleep cycles are longer since they sleep a lot to recover energy.
Adults, on the other hand, show more the stage of light sleep during the day than that of deep sleep when you are going to rest during the night, assuming you are accustomed to a schedule.
Older puppies sleep a little longer and therefore may have more periods of deep sleep. Of course, the time that the dog enters a state of REM will also depend on the lifestyle and the environment in which it is located.
The states of deep sleep in dogs are short but they need to have them. Since, if not, as in humans, lack of restful sleep can bring diseases, stress and bad mood to our dog.
Therefore, it is important that the rest area, always make him comfortable. So make sure to arrange him something like a dog bed, and our pet’s schedule is respected. Inculcate to stick with the same rest schedule so his sleep cycle won’t be disturbed and stay calm.
In addition to the things mentioned above, you must not forget that if your dog has fast breathing both in normal or rest conditions, then it must be taken to the veterinarian since it can mean something more serious, such as a respiratory tract disease.
Now coming to serious health problems, there are a few that need proper attention.
Panting and agitated dog: he may be in pain
When a dog is in pain, it may be breathing faster than usual. Even if dogs tend to hide the pain, rapid breathing can indicate that the dog is suffering. You should take a look at your pet’s body and check for visible injuries. You should also check your mouth and nasal passages. Eyes may also be bruised, so inspect for injuries.
Feel the dog’s abdomen. If the dog walks away, it may mean that the problem is internal. Observe if your dog is limping. If you can’t find anything, you can consult a vet as the problem may be internal.
Dog breathing fast asleep or awake: heart problem
Rapid breathing may be indicative of a heart problem. The heart may fail to pump enough blood to the organs, including the lungs, resulting in less oxygen reaching the organs, causing the dog to breathe faster and more shallowly.
If your dog has a heart problem, he can breathe faster when lying down. The upright position helps with breathing. Pale or blue/gray gums may indicate a lack of oxygen. Typically, the gums should be pink. If your dog has black gums, you may check the inside of the lower eyelid, which should be pink normally, but turns blue if the dog has a lack of oxygen.
Dog with wheezing and shivering: pneumonia and respiratory infections
In addition to heart problems, there are other conditions that can cause breathing problems in your dog. Pneumonia and respiratory infections can also result in a lack of sufficient oxygen in the dog’s body and rapid breathing. Infections may be signaled by fever, lethargy, tremors, coughs, sneezing, or eye and nasal discharge. If the infection is severe, it can migrate to the lungs, causing pneumonia.
Panting Dog while taking rest: Asthma
Asthma is caused by irritants that will cause wheezing, coughing, open mouth breathing and sometimes lack of oxygen in the dog’s body due to the fact that the airways are closed.
Panting Dog: Allergies
Allergies can make the dog breathe stronger; the air nostrils are irritated and may also be swollen. In rare cases, if the dog is highly allergic to an irritant, the dog may have an anaphylactic shock that causes extreme swelling of the air passages, and the dog will breathe quickly in an attempt to obtain oxygen.
Panting dog with tongue hanging out: Hot flashes
Hot flashes are caused by exposure of the dog to high temperatures. The dog will warm up and try to regulate body temperature through faster breathing.
These are some possible reasons your dog may be breathing faster. Be sure to visit your vet if your dog has an anaphylactic shock, has a hot flash, or if it detects symptoms such as fever, blue gums, excessive craving, sudden snoring attacks or panting at night.
With all the information provided we hope it will be easier for you to answer the question of why my dog breathes very fast when he sleeps, without the need for you to be distressed or scared.