How to Help a Dog Breathe Better

Does your dog have trouble breathing? And do they make strange noises? Your dog may be short of breath! Read this article to learn how to help a dog breathe better. We explain the symptoms, possible explanations and treatments.

how to help a dog breathe better

This page contains affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases which means I receive a small commission when you make a purchase, at zero cost to you.

Healthy Breathing of a Dog

With normal breathing, a dog breathes 10 to 30 times per minute. The chest and abdomen expand slightly, but there is no sound when breathing.

Symptoms of Breathlessness in Dogs

Shortness of breath in your dog can be recognized by a short breath, almost gasping for air. The breathing can be further described as fast and shallow. Your dog may also make spasmodic movements when breathing. This allows the abdomen to expand and contract again.

In addition, your dog may make strange noises such as gurgling and snoring. Coughing can also be a sign of breathlessness.

Finally, your dog will want to keep the parts of the body where breathing can be felt free. They often assumes a position with the front legs far apart.

In an overview, the symptoms of breathlessness in your dog look like this:

  • Short breaths (gasping for breath)
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Spasmodic movements when breathing
  • Gurgling and snoring
  • Cough
  • Posture with front legs far apart
How to Get A Dog to Stop Eating Its Poop?

Are you seeing the above behavior in your dog? Fortunately, you don’t have to worry right away. There may be other reasons for your dog to display this behavior. Maybe your dog has just made a lot of effort or maybe they are looking for attention.

Causes for Breathlessness in Dogs

Shortness of breath can be caused in several ways. We describe below some of these possible explanations for shortness of breath in your dog:

Irritation to the respiratory tract

Dust can irritate the respiratory tract (trachea, throat and nostrils). The body tries to get the irritation out of the airways with mucus. However, the airways can become so clogged with mucus that your dog will have trouble breathing. If this continues for a long time, your dog may become short of breath.

Respiratory infection

A virus or bacteria can cause irritation in your dog’s airways. Also with this condition, your dog can produce mucus to expel the virus or infection and thus become short of breath.


The virus or bacteria above can cause pneumonia in your dog. They break down the resistance of the lungs and cause inflammation in the lungs. The pneumonia makes your dog stuffy.

Gastric torsion

A twisting of the stomach can occur in dogs that start romping immediately after eating. Your dog gets stuffy because the stomach is blocking its own opening in the rotation.


Has your dog been locked up in a small space where they are (or has become) very hot, for example the car? Then your dog has gotten stuffy from the heat.

Heart problems

In very severe cases, your dog may have heart problems. Unfortunately, this is not visible from this kind of breathlessness of your dog.

How to Put A Muzzle on An Aggressive Dog?

How to Help a Dog Breathe Better

When you notice that your dog is short of breath, it is best to go to the vet. In any case, they can rule out serious problems, such as a problem with your dog’s heart. If necessary, an X-ray can also be taken to gain a better understanding of the body and the problems.

There are also a number of things you can do yourself to reduce or prevent your dog’s breathlessness. It is especially important to keep the airways as clear as possible so that your dog can breathe easily.

Nutrition and exercise

The first way to do this is to ensure good general health with proper nutrition and exercise. Consult with the food vendor or possibly your veterinarian for the correct food for your dog.

We love and recommend the food subscription service from Ollie. Each of their high-protein recipes are carefully crafted to provide a complete and nutritious diet for your dog:

You can usually estimate the amount of exercise required by your dog’s activity. For example, is your dog still very active when you come home after a walk? Then try to make your walks a little longer or go again at another time.


For some extra help with breathing, you can use a nebulizer. The nebulization technique is very suitable for dogs that have (too much) mucus in the airways. Mix water and salt or purchase a prepackaged saline solution and put it in the nebulizer:

Dog Aerosol Chamber (3 Masks)

Last update on 2022-04-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Can Dogs Eat Sauerkraut Or Is it Harmful?

You can place the nebulizer directly on your dog’s mouth or you can place it in a room. The device turns the liquid saline solution into mist, allowing it to penetrate well into your dog’s airways. It easily dissolves the mucus, allowing your dog to breathe freely again.