Breathing rate monitoring: Counting your dog’s breathing rate when sleeping is a very valuable tool that can be used to ensure that your pet has no fluid on their lungs due to heart failure. Count your pets breathing for 30 seconds (one rise and fall of the chest = one breathe) then double this number for a rate per minute. All dogs will breathe fast at times and there will be times when you dog will breathe fast although appearing to be asleep, perhaps because he’s not deeply asleep or because he’s having doggy dreams.

The important question to answer is “Can your dog breathe slowly?”. Any time your dog shows you that they can breathe slowly and take fewer than 30 breaths/minute, they are telling you that their lungs are dry. Fluid that accumulates in the lungs with congestive heart failure doesn’t come and go. Until then breathing is necessarily rapid because the lungs simply don’t work properly when there is fluid present.

If you’re worried about your dog’s breathing being rapid, give them the opportunity to show you differently by checking it when they appear to be deeply sleeping. If it remains faster than 30 breaths/ minute throughout sleep or if your pet can’t settle, it may mean that fluid is starting to accumulate in their lungs. You’ll need to see VCA, an emergency service or your regular vet for x-rays on the same day you confirm the rapid breathing issues. If your pet ever has laboured breathing, this is an emergency and immediate veterinary attention is needed.