A puppy breathing fast or 'oddly' is one of the things that seems to worry new owners quite a bit - but in most cases everything is just fine. Learn what's normal and what isn't right here.
Often when a young pup is sleeping he not only breathes very quickly, it may be a bit erratic - as if he's holding his breath.
Combine this with the normal twitching, wriggling and even whining or barking that a puppy may indulge in when he's dreaming and it can be 'panic stations' for the rest of the family.
I get many questions about this sort of situation, and the good news is that most of the time there's nothing to worry about!
Let's start with the way your puppy behaves when he's deeply asleep.
Young puppies are basically tiny babies, and they're either eating, playing, eliminating or sleeping... and sleeping takes up more time than any other activity.
Sleep is very important to puppies as it's when their little bodies do most of their growing and developing, so it's natural that it will be one of their favorite pastimes.
But puppies don't necessarily sleep in that 'dead to the world' way that some mature and older dogs do. They may twitch, jerk or 'wriggle', whine or even bark..... and their breathing may seem very fast, or slow and shallow, or appear to 'stop-and-start' as if they're holding their breath.
If you're a mom or have spent much time around newborn human infants, you'll know that it's the same with them.
Erratic breaths, twitching, grimacing, smiling, clenching their little hands... they do all of these things while they're asleep.
This is all quite normal, and usually nothing to worry about.
I'm not a veterinarian and there's no way that I can tell you for sure that your puppy is 100% healthy, or whether or not he has any problems that are related to the way he's breathing when he's asleep....
BUT if he is happy, active, eating well, drinking well, is up to date on his vaccinations and parasite treatment and is showing no other signs of illness, then chances are he's just fine.
However, a puppy who has difficulty breathing when awake, or shows any other signs of illness is a different story. Occasionally a puppy will be born with a heart or circulatory problem and this may cause his breathing to be extra fast, or shallow, as well as a number of other symptoms such as tiring easily, failing to grow or put on weight at a normal rate.
If you think your dog or puppy is breathing fast, or erratically when awake, and has any of these symptoms then I'd strongly recommend that you get him/her seen by a vet right away:
If you're a little worried about your puppy but he doesn't seem really ill, isn't injured or needing immediate veterinary attention, you can get answers to your puppy health question (about a puppy breathing fast or anything else!) by asking an online veterinarian.
It's a quick way to get peace of mind and is much more affordable than a vet visit that you're not certain you need yet!
BUT... if your puppy is showing signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, extreme lethargy, weakness, disorientation or any other serious symptoms, get him to your own vet immediately!