Dog Breathing Heavily Through Nose – Causes And Treatments

A dog’s respiratory system is vital to maintaining its health and well-being. Like humans, dogs rely on their noses to breathe and regulate their body temperature.

However, if you’ve noticed your dog breathing heavily through nose, it may indicate various factors worth exploring.

This article will delve into the potential causes behind this abnormal breathing issue.

The info will range from normal physiological responses to potential underlying health concerns.

Understanding the reasons will help you ensure the well-being of your furry friend.

Let’s keep scrolling down for the details!!

Why Is My Dog Breathing Heavily Through Nose?

dog breathing heavily through nose

When a dog breathes heavily through its nose, it can be due to a foreign body, allergies, or infection.

But the underlying reason might be more severe like brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome or cancer.

Exercise Or Excitement

During exercise or excitement, dogs inhale and exhale heavily through the nose to meet their increased oxygen demands, optimize air intake, and regulate body temperature.

Heavy nasal breathing allows more air to enter the respiratory system, facilitating oxygen uptake.

It also enables efficient warming, humidification, and air filtration. 

And the rapid airflow through the nasal passages aids in evaporating moisture and dissipating excess heat from the body, providing a cooling mechanism for the dog.

Respiratory Conditions

Respiratory conditions can force dogs to breathe heavily through the nose due to inflammation, congestion, or airway obstruction.

As a result, dogs may rely on rapid breathing to compensate for reduced airflow through the nasal passages. This way, they can still take in sufficient oxygen.

It’s their body’s way of adapting to the respiratory condition and maximizing the available air intake for proper oxygenation.

Suppose the heavy breathing persists and is accompanied by coughing, wheezing, nasal discharge, or other concerning symptoms.

In that case, it’s important to consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination and diagnosis.

Heat And Panting

Heat and panting also explain why dogs breathe heavily through the nose as a means of thermoregulation. This is because dogs do not have sweat glands like humans.

When your furry friend becomes overheated or needs to dissipate excess body heat, they pant rapidly, taking quick breaths through their mouth and nose.

Rapid breathing increases airflow and enhances moisture evaporation from respiratory surfaces, including the nasal passages.

This promotes heat loss and helps regulate their body temperature, allowing them to cool down more efficiently.

Especially when your pet gets a hot ear at night, they can start breathing difficulty after a few hours.

So, you should find the reason and have prompt treatment!

Foreign Body

When a foreign body becomes lodged in a dog’s nasal passages, it can obstruct the normal airflow and lead to heavy breathing through the nose.

Foreign objects include a seed, grass lawn, small toy, etc. They can irritate the nasal passages and trigger inflammation and discomfort.

In response, your pet may forcefully breathe through the nose to dislodge or clear the obstruction.

The heavy nasal breathing serves as a compensatory mechanism to try and restore normal airflow and alleviate the irritation caused by the foreign body.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

If your pooch is suffering from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), you might see it inhale and exhale heavily through the nose.

This often happens with brachycephalic breeds.

These abnormalities obstruct the smooth flow of air. Dogs will find it more difficult to breathe properly.

As a compensatory mechanism, dogs with BOAS may breathe heavily through the nose to increase airflow through the limited nasal passages and alleviate the strain on their respiratory system.

However, the underlying structural issues can still pose challenges and affected dogs may require medical interventions, such as surgery, to improve their breathing and overall quality of life.


Infections can cause an inflammatory response and increased mucus production in the respiratory system. Thus, your dog may have problems breathing.

When a canine develops a respiratory infection, such as a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, the airways can become inflamed and congested.

This inflammation narrows the air passages, making it more difficult for air to flow freely.

The body’s immune response to the infection also increases mucus production, further obstructing the airways.

To compensate for the reduced airflow, dogs may breathe heavily through the nose to draw in more air and ensure an adequate oxygen supply.


Nasal tumors or tumors in nearby areas can cause nasal congestion, inflammation, and blockage, leading to breathing difficulties.

The obstruction in the nasal passages forces dogs to breathe heavily through the nose to increase airflow.

Cancer-related symptoms like inflammation and tissue damage can also contribute to discomfort and respiratory distress.

It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have cancer.

So, your pet can have diagnostic tests to determine the extent of the condition and recommend appropriate treatment options to alleviate symptoms and improve breathing in dogs.


When dogs with allergies encounter substances they are sensitive to, such as pollen, dust mites, or certain foods, it can lead to an allergic reaction.

This reaction often involves inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages. That results in nasal congestion and difficulty breathing.

Dogs may breathe heavily through the nose to open up the congested airways and increase airflow.

Heavy and noisy breathing is a compensatory mechanism to overcome the obstruction brought by the allergic response. In this case, I first identify the allergens.

Then, I try to alleviate symptoms, like changing my pet’s nutrition. For example, I usually let my four-legged friend eat lamb dog food


Parasites, such as lungworms, can trigger some issues relating to breathing. These parasites can invade the lungs, airways, or surrounding tissues.

This can result in respiratory symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and nasal congestion.

In response to the discomfort and reduced airflow, dogs may breathe heavily through the nose to alleviate the obstruction and improve breathing.


If dogs breathe heavily through the nose, trauma can be to blame due to the potential impact on the respiratory system and surrounding structures.

In cases where a dog has experienced physical trauma, the trauma can damage or disrupt the nasal passages, sinuses, or airway.

Swelling, inflammation, fractures, or foreign bodies resulting from the trauma can obstruct normal airflow and impede breathing.

Heavy nasal breathing may be a compensatory mechanism the dog employs to increase air intake and overcome the obstruction caused by the trauma.


  • Obesity: 

Excess weight can strain a dog’s respiratory system. The increased effort required to move air in and out of the lungs can result in heavy nasal breathing.

  • Anemia: 

This is a decrease in red blood cells or hemoglobin levels. It can reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. As a compensatory mechanism, dogs may breathe heavily to intake more oxygen.

  • Intoxication/Poisoning: 

When ingested or inhaled, certain toxins or poisons can affect a dog’s respiratory system and lead to breathing problems.

  • Heat Stroke: 

Heat stroke occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises to dangerous levels, often due to exposure to high temperatures or inadequate cooling mechanisms.

  • Electrocution: 

Electrocution can cause significant injuries, including damage to the respiratory system. In such cases, dogs may exhibit heavy nasal breathing.

Treatment Options For Dogs Heavy Breathing Through Nose 

dog rapid breathing through nose


Surgery is a treatment option for dogs breathing heavily through the nose when the underlying cause is related to a structural issue in the airway.

Here are a few scenarios where surgery might be recommended:

  • Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome: 

Surgical procedures such as nares resection (widening the nostrils), soft palate resection, or even corrective surgery for the trachea may be performed to alleviate the obstruction and improve airflow.

  • Nasal Obstructions: 

If there is a physical obstruction in the nasal passages, such as a polyp, tumor, or foreign object, surgery may be necessary to remove the blockage.

This ensures that the dog can breathe freely and without restriction.

  • Other Airway Abnormalities: 

They may include collapsed trachea, laryngeal paralysis, or stenotic nares (narrow nostrils).

Surgical interventions may be necessary to address these issues and improve the dog’s ability to breathe comfortably.


Antibiotics may be used as a treatment option for dogs breathing heavily through the nose when the underlying cause is a respiratory infection.

This medical treatment helps eliminate the causative bacteria or fungi. 

It can reduce the infection and allow the airways to heal. The prescribed antibiotic will depend on the disease.

It will be identified through diagnostic tests and the susceptibility of the bacteria or fungi involved.

You should follow the veterinarian’s instructions: 

  • The dosage of the antibiotic treatment 
  • The duration of using

This can ensure the complete eradication of the infection and prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

Antifungal Medications

Antifungal medications can be a great treatment when the underlying cause is a fungal infection.

Fungal infections can affect dogs’ nasal passages, sinuses, or respiratory systems, leading to heavy breathing, nasal discharge, sneezing, and congestion.

Antifungal medications are prescribed to control the specific type of fungus infection.

These medications work by inhibiting the growth and spread of the fungus, ultimately resolving the infection and relieving the respiratory symptoms.

The choice of antifungal medication will depend on the specific fungal species identified.


dog heavy breathing through nose

In conclusion, a dog breathing heavily through nose can happen for various reasons. Identifying the underlying cause is essential through veterinary evaluation and diagnosis.

Prompt medical attention and appropriate treatment are crucial to alleviate discomfort, address potential health issues, and ensure the well-being of dogs with breathing problems.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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