Respiratory Rate in Dogs: Everything you need to know

Frecuencia Respiratoria en Perros: Todo lo que debes saber


The respiratory rate of our pets is an important indicator that can be very helpful to us in keeping them healthy. Do you know what are the normal heart rate parameters that your loin should have? Or maybe you know the correct way to measure it at home?

This article that Waggy's wants to share with you covers the answer to the two previous questions as well as situations, symptoms, functions of the respiratory system and suggestions to prevent diseases derived from a poor heart rate. We invite you to continue reading and together, discover all the information about this interesting topic. Let's get started!

Anatomy of the Respiratory System in Dogs

The dog's respiratory system is very similar to that of the human because it can be divided into the upper and lower respiratory tract whose function is to carry out breathing, the exchange of respiratory gases between the dog's body and the outside world. The upper tract is made up of:


It is formed by the nostrils and the nasal cavity, divided into two nostrils, which lead to the throat. The mucosa of this cavity constitutes a defense against pathogens and irritants.


It is the junction area between the nasal passages and the back of the mouth. This is where the epiglottis valve is located, responsible for closing the larynx when the dog swallows to prevent any element from passing into the airways.


It is a tube with C-shaped cartilage rings, which allows it to maintain its shape and allow free passage of air without collapsing. It runs from the larynx to the main bronchi, which carry air to the lungs.


They can be larger or smaller in size. In those of smaller caliber, pulmonary alveoli are formed, also called alveolar sacs, where, as we have said, gas exchange finally occurs.


They are two spongy, elastic, air-filled organs located in the thoracic cavity and protected by the ribs. We will talk about them in more detail in the following sections.

The important thing to take into account here is that the lungs are made up of bronchi, bronchioles and alveoli, which are the place where gas exchange occurs. In them oxygen passes into the blood and carbon dioxide leaves thanks to a difference in pressures.

What is Respiratory Rate in Dogs?

Respiratory rate in dogs refers to the number of breaths a dog takes in one minute. It is an important indicator and can vary depending on the age, size, breed and activity of the animal. Understanding and monitoring the respiratory rate in pets is essential to detect possible health problems and ensure their well-being.

The respiratory rate is measured by observing the movement of the dog's chest or abdomen while it breathes and below we explain how to do it:

  • To measure respiratory rate, you must observe your dog at rest. Make sure he is calm and relaxed, as exercise or stress can temporarily increase his breathing rate.
  • Place your dog in a comfortable position, such as sitting or lying down.
  • Look at your chest or abdomen and count how many times it rises and falls in a minute.
  • You can use a stopwatch or watch to measure time accurately.
  • It is useful to keep a record of your dog's breathing rate at different times of the day and in different situations to have a normal reference.

Likewise, it is important to monitor the respiratory rate because it is a great tool to evaluate the well-being of our pet, it helps us to monitor them during their illnesses and finally, to detect possible health problems.

Normal Respiratory Rate in Dogs

Let us remember that the “normal” respiratory rate will vary depending on factors such as age, size, activity level, among others. However, below we will give some examples of what could be considered normal in 4 ranges:

Adult dogs

The normal respiratory rate in adult dogs at rest generally ranges between 10 and 30 breaths per minute. On average, many dogs have around 20 breaths per minute.


Puppies tend to have a faster breathing rate than adult dogs. They may have between 15 and 40 breaths per minute, depending on their age and activity level.

Small dogs

Small dogs, such as toy breeds, tend to have a faster breathing rate than large dogs. Your normal resting breathing rate may be at the upper end of the range mentioned above.

Big dogs

Large dogs tend to have a slower breathing rate at rest, which may be on the lower end of the range.

Just as in everything, there will be situations or factors that cause your dog to present variations in this range, such as physical activity, the type of climate or temperature, stress or anxiety to which it is subjected, and if it suffers from any disease. Therefore, to carry out an adequate measurement at home, it is necessary to avoid the aforementioned factors.

Signs of Respiratory Problems

Like diseases, respiratory problems in dogs usually generate symptoms that we can identify due to observation, these are:


Dyspnea or respiratory problems in dogs is difficulty breathing. It may manifest as excessive effort when breathing, shallow breathing, or excessive panting. The dog may appear to be struggling to get enough air.


Persistent or chronic cough can be a sign of respiratory problems, such as infectious respiratory diseases, allergies, or even heart disease.

Excessive panting

An increase in panting that is not related to physical activity or heat may indicate a breathing problem.

Abnormal sounds when breathing

Hearing noises such as whistling, rales, or snoring while breathing may be a sign of airway obstruction or lung problems.

Bluish discoloration of the mucous membranes

If your dog's gums, lips, or nails turn blue or purple, this may indicate a lack of oxygen in the system and is a medical emergency.

Difficulty performing physical activities

If your dog shows difficulty doing previously easy activities, such as walking or running, it could be a sign of respiratory problems.

Abnormal breathing posture

Some dogs with breathing problems may adopt an abnormal posture, such as craning their necks forward to make breathing easier.

Nasal discharge or sneezing

Runny nose, persistent sneezing, or breathing problems accompanied by congestion may be indicative of respiratory infections.

Common Causes of Changes in Respiratory Rate

The change in respiratory rate can be derived from diseases such as:

Respiratory infections

Viral infections (such as kennel cough or distemper) or bacterial infections (such as infectious bronchitis).

Lung diseases

Conditions such as pneumonia, pulmonary fibrosis or pulmonary edema.

Heart diseases

Heart diseases, such as congestive heart failure, can cause fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and difficulty breathing.


Allergies to environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust or mites, can trigger allergic reactions in the airways, leading to symptoms such as cough and difficulty breathing.


As in humans, dogs can develop asthma, which causes bronchoconstriction and difficulty breathing.

Airway obstruction

Any physical obstruction in the airways, such as a foreign body or tumor.

Environmental factors

Factors such as extreme heat, humidity, high altitude, or exposure to irritants can cause a dog to breathe faster to regulate its body temperature or to remove irritants from the airways.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

As we have already said before, much of what we can do will start from our ability to observe any of the symptoms explained above. If there is any irregularity, we recommend going to a professional. Follow your instinct since no one knows your pet and the normal behaviors it has better than you. Likewise, always take into account their clinical history as it will help you identify irregularities as well as give more details to the veterinarian so they can guide you more accurately.

It must be clarified that any visit to the veterinarian can cause the famous aggression in dogs as well as a lot of stress and anxiety in dogs , which is why at Waggy's we offer you our 100% natural CBD products for dogs , which will help calm your pet. In addition, they contain Omega 3 for dogs , a necessary and essential component for the development of our pet, so they are the best option to choose.

Respiratory Care and Prevention in Dogs

This is also a situation that can be prevented through the following actions:

  • Avoid walking through places with spike-type elements that the dog can inhale when sniffing. Also do not allow him to travel with his head outside the car window.
  • It is important that the dog does not have access to foreign bodies that could become lodged in its airways.
  • Do not expose it to pollutants such as smoke or tobacco, as they cause, at the very least, irritation.
  • Maintain the deworming and vaccination schedule prescribed by the veterinarian. It is important to prevent the presence of lung parasites and respiratory diseases.
  • Try to keep it at its optimal weight. Extra kilos, whether overweight or obesity, make it difficult to breathe and, in general, reduce the quality and expectancy of life.

Treatments for respiratory problems in dogs

The treatment will really depend on the cause, which is why it is extremely important to have the support of a veterinary medical professional.


In conclusion, it is essential that we pay attention to the respiratory health of our pets. Respiratory rate is a key indicator that can help us identify health problems in our four-legged friends. If we notice persistent changes in respiratory rate or any other symptoms related to breathing, we should not hesitate to consult a veterinarian. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential to ensure the well-being of our dogs and address any respiratory problems effectively.

We recommend that you continue reading the following articles: My dog ​​has a cough , my dog ​​vomits white foam , rabies in dogs , leptospirosis in dogs , epilepsy in dogs and diarrhea in dogs . These talk about other conditions and/or diseases that can affect your pet and it is important that you know how to prevent them or at least be alert.

It is essential to remember that the information provided in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not replace in any case the advice and care of a veterinary doctor. Whenever you have concerns or questions about your dog's health, seek professional guidance from a trusted veterinarian.

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