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Dog gasping for air even on short walks

Updated on February 18, 2012

Dogs are well loved pets. It is not uncommon for people to treat the pet as their child. As such, the pet will be provided with all imaginable comforts. Owners will also ensure the good health of the pet. Anything unusual in the pet’s behavior will worry the owner. Dogs are ideal walking and running companions. Dogs can easily outrun their owners. A dog that gasps for air even on short walks would worry the owner.  There are various reasons why a dog would have shortness of breath.

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Old age

Dogs are very energetic animals. Man’s best friends are also very strong. Dogs can fight predators several times bigger than their size. Dogs have protected man too. However, our four legged friends get old too. As with humans advanced in age, the strength of the dog will wane. The pet that has been the running companion of the master would catch the breath, gasp for air even after a short walk. Not only the body and the legs of the dog will weaken. The functioning of the vital organs will be affected as well. The dog may be gasping for air because the pumping of the heart is not fast enough to supply the lungs with oxygen unlike when the dog is younger. The functioning of the lungs may have been affected as well.


Shortness of breath can be due to obesity. The pet would be breathless after the least exertion because of the added fat in the chest and in the stomach.  Respiratory problems are more common in overweight pets. Among the reasons for the dog’s breathing difficulties, obesity is the easiest to resolve.

Health concerns

Asthma, lung infections, pneumonia, bronchitis…these are the common respiratory system problems that can cause the dog’s labored breathing. A short walk, climbing stairs and other mild exertion will cause the dog to gasp for air. Infections that cause a large buildup of mucus and fluid in the lungs will prevent the lungs from expanding as they normally does. Heart diseases will make the dog gasp for air even with mild exertion.

Heartworm infestation

Heartworms can make your pet dog gasp for air. Heartworm is life threatening as the infestation would not show symptoms until it is already on an advanced stage. Heartworm is transmitted through mosquito bites. Once the baby heartworms are transmitted, they stay in the bloodstream of the dog where they will molt. In about 6 months the worms migrate to the right chamber of the heart to impair the flow of blood to the lungs. One of the clinical signs of heartworm infestation is exercise intolerance. The dog will gasp for breath after walking even a short distance.

Ingestion of foreign objects

A pet that is catching its breath may have swallowed a foreign object. Dogs have the inclination to chew objects that are not meant to be swallowed. A foreign object can get stuck in the dog’s throat and make breathing difficult.

Shi tzu gasping for air


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