Dog Wheezing | Causes & How To Treat It

We all want what’s best for our dogs, and when they’re sick, we naturally want to find out what’s wrong and how to make them feel better.

It can be alarming if your dog is gasping but don’t panic.

In this article, we’ll explore some common reasons of dog wheezing so that you can better understand what might be going on with your furry friend.

Causes For Dog Wheezing

brown dog face laying on floor looking sad

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are one of the most common reasons behind dog wheezing.

These infections generally occur when a dog is exposed to irritants such as pollen, smoke, and dust, which can lead to inflammation in the dog’s airways.

Symptoms of respiratory infections include coughing and sneezing, gagging or throwing up mucus, and increased difficulty in breathing.

If a dog is wheezing, it must receive veterinary care as soon as possible because some infections can be fatal.

By monitoring your dog’s breathing and making sure they are receiving regular exercise.

They are kept from environmental triggers such as smoke; you can help prevent dog wheezing caused by respiratory infections.

Allergies Can Also Cause Dogs To Wheeze

dog looking on the left side

Similar to humans, allergies can be uncomfortable and inconvenient for dogs too.

It is common for dog owners to recognize when their dog struggles to breathe due to an allergic reaction.

A dog may demonstrate wheezing, which is common in allergic reactions.

An essential factor to consider when managing a dog’s allergies is the animal’s environment.

Allergens can be airborne or found in food, so it’s necessary to investigate the dog’s environment and diet.

As with any other health issue, consulting a veterinarian can help pet owners develop strategies and solutions tailored to the individual animal’s needs.

Heart Disease And Lung Disease Can Also Lead To Wheezing In Dogs

Wheezing in dogs is a common symptom of many dog health issues, but heart disease and lung disease are the most underestimated causes.

While respiratory ailments are often the likely culprits when a dog begins wheezing, not all dog wheezing can be attributed to such conditions.

Various heart diseases (for example, heartworm disease or congestive heart failure) can lead to wheezing dog sound due to swelling and pressure on the airways.

Meanwhile, canine lung diseases have also been linked to dog wheezing from inflammation obstructing normal airflow.

In both cases, getting prompt medical attention for your dog will help ensure the best possible outcome for their health and well-being.

If Your Dog Is Overweight, It Can Strain Its Respiratory System And Cause Wheezing

fat pug laying in grass

A dog’s wheezing can indicate that they are suffering from heavy breathing, which is often caused by being overweight.

That is because the extra weight strains their lungs, making it harder for them to draw deep breaths.

If your dog starts wheezing more often than usual, it is essential to look at their weight and ensure they are at a healthy level.

A dog’s diet should be adjusted to ensure they don’t become overweight, as this could significantly impact its health and well-being.

Dog Coughing And Wheezing

If your dog is wheezing, it could be a symptom of kennel cough, an upper respiratory infection affecting canine companions.

It is highly contagious and caused by several viruses and bacteria that spread through contact among animals.

Symptoms include a dry hacking dog coughing, sneezing, and sometimes fever.

In severe cases, there can also be difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, and even wheezing.

To confirm this diagnosis, veterinarians may perform physical exams and take x-rays to determine the origin of your dog’s symptoms.

Treatment generally involves antibiotics or dog-approved anti-inflammatory medications to relieve some respiratory discomforts.

Taking steps to isolate your dog from other dogs, maintaining good hygiene, and vaccinations can help protect against kennel cough.

Related: Dog Dry Heaving: Causes And Treatment

Because Of Foreign Object

white brown dog laying on the floor with a small ball by his side

Dog wheezing can be alarming to owners, who might assume the worst immediately.

In some cases, it could be due to inhaling a foreign object into their lungs.

Unfortunately, since dogs cannot verbally communicate what is wrong with them, it is difficult for dog owners to pinpoint the cause of dog wheezing to something like a foreign object.

That is why dog owners need to take their dogs to the vet as soon as possible if they notice that their dog is wheezing – it could be caused by something much more severe and needs to be addressed by a professional immediately.

Due To Collapsing Trachea

Dog owners need to be aware that dog wheezing could indicate a condition known as a collapsed trachea.

That is a common issue among canine companions, especially those under 10 pounds, caused by cartilage weakening around the dog’s trachea.

The collapsed trachea can cause pain and difficulty breathing expressed through wheezing, gagging, and coughing.

Dog owners that notice these symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment to prevent further issues.

However, a collapsing trachea can be managed with lifestyle changes such as providing access to good indoor air, introducing preventative medication, and avoiding things such as jumping or other activities that put additional pressure on their dog’s chest cavity.

light brown dog laying on the floor eyes closed

Smoking Around Your Dog Can Also Irritate Their Lungs

Though a dog’s lungs may be more robust than a human’s, smoking around your dog can still hurt their breathing.

Because of their naturally sensitive noses, cigarette smoke can bother a dog enough to cause wheezing attacks similar to those experienced by humans who smoke.

These wheezing issues can sometimes become severe and cause long-term lung damage.

Keep this in mind when you want to light up near your pup – for everyone’s sake, it is best to move away from them or outside the house before lighting up.

How To Treat A Wheezing Dog?

Treating dog wheezing can be tricky since it can indicate various underlying conditions.

Sometimes, your dog may need to be brought into a calmer environment and given some time to rest to improve its breathing.

However, it can also signify more serious issues, such as allergies or respiratory infections, which a licensed veterinarian should always address.

Your vet can help you assess your dog’s condition and develop an appropriate treatment plan accordingly.

Depending on the diagnosis, this could involve cough medication, lifestyle changes, and other interventions such as special nutrition or supplements.

Be sure to follow all instructions closely for the best results for your dog.

When Your Dog’s Wheezing Should Make You Worry

Wheezing in dogs can be a cause for concern, as it can indicate anything from a harmless reaction to environmental irritants, such as dust, to more severe illnesses like pulmonary diseases or heart failure.

Pet owners should monitor any changes in their dog’s breathing habits.

If your dog is wheezing due to environmental conditions like smoke or dust, the symptoms should improve after removing the dog from that environment.

However, you should contact your veterinarian for further evaluation if there is still gasping after removal from the environment.

In addition, if your dog has difficulty breathing, is coughing and not eating well, or shows signs of lethargy and loss of appetite, contact your veterinarian immediately, as these could be early signs of a more serious health condition.

Take Your Dog To The Vet For A Check-Up As Soon As Possible

dark dog laying on floor looking sad

Your dog’s health is an essential factor to consider, and any time there are signs of distress, it’s necessary to act immediately.

If your dog appears to be gasping, this could be a sign of a more severe problem, and you should take them for a check-up at the vet as soon as possible.

Wheezing can indicate many things, from respiratory issues to allergies (seasonal allergies or a food allergy for example) or underlying infections.

It is essential to get your dog assessed so that it can receive the necessary treatment or advice it might need.

Taking steps at an early stage can help make sure that your dog stays happy and healthy.

Wheezing and breathing difficulties in dogs can be caused by various things, including respiratory infections, allergies, heart disease, and lung disease.

If your dog is overweight, it can also strain its respiratory system and cause wheezing.

Smoking around your dog can also irritate their lungs and lead to wheezing.

If you think your dog is wheezing, take them to the vet for a check-up as soon as possible.

Before You Go…

Now you know the reasons for dog wheezing.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.