Why Is My Dog Wheezing When Breathing? Truths Unfolded

Wheezing dogs would churn out an unnatural, high-pitched whistling sound that indicates possible issues with their throat, lung, or breathing system.

However, not all cases of dog wheezing when breathing demands medical support. Keep scrolling to learn when you should start considering serious treatment plans.

Why Is My Dog Wheezing When Breathing? What Causes A Dog to Wheeze 

dog wheezing when breathing

Wheezes are often associated with allergies, congestive heart failure, collapsed trachea, bronchitis, foreign objects (an urgent case that needs an emergency vet), Kennel coughs, heartworm, and asthma. 


Dogs with seasonal allergies will start wheezing in the face of outdoor allergens or close contact with any contaminant or plant that might trigger allergic reactions.

Although all these symptoms are normal, try to give your vet more information for better diagnoses.

Suppose the pet wheezes after being stung, bitten, or encountering difficulty breathing; then chances of anaphylaxis are high.

In that case, emergency inspections and first-hand treatments are definitely required.

Collapsed Trachea

Certain dogs (especially smaller ones with very short noses) suffer higher risks of collapsed trachea in the later stages of their lives.

As the name suggests, the trachea collapses due to weakened cartilage, causing the dog to wheeze whenever it is active or too excited.

Some dogs even go to sleep with excessive snoring due to this condition.

Fortunately, proper medical treatment can help your dog manage collapsed trachea; work closely with the vet to make sure the dog stays healthy and cooperative throughout the entire treatment. 


Causes for bronchitis are diverse, mostly stemming from diseases that the dog can get vaccinated for.

Still, in rarer cases, bronchitis can occur by itself and go hand in hand with common dog allergies.

Canines suffering from bronchitis have their airways scarred, which, in turn, leads to more wheezing and coughing than usual.

Bring your dog to the vet for confirmation; the vet will likely give you dog antibiotics, steroids, and other aggressive/decisive treatments to target the condition.

Foreign Objects

Another common cause of wheezing is foreign objects – which is, sadly, much more serious than the rest of the potential options on the list. 

Failure to treat them immediately might choke the dog to death after only a few hours! 

When this object enters the throat, the dog’s airway will be partially or completely obstructed.

The latter (complete obstruction) causes breathing struggles and even unconsciousness.

However, partial obstruction leads to slightly less severe symptoms, such as wheezing, pacing, inability to relax, and extreme anxiousness.

Take your dog to a clinic if you have the slightest suspicion that it has been chewing on its toy, plaything, or any dangerous object.

Kennel Coughs

This upper respiratory condition is highly contagious in dogs, spreading even more quickly when these dogs are within extremely close quarters (animal shelters or kennels, hence its name).

The itches in the dog’s airway cause dry coughs/ wheezing and heightens the risks of secondary infections.

Most of the time, canine parainfluenza viruses and bacteria bronchiseptica are the culprits, but other same-nature microorganisms should not be 100% ruled out.

They are usually transmitted via airborne droplet inhalation (when the dog coughs), direct skin contact, or sharing infected toys and food bowls.

Other factors also contribute to the dog’s increased susceptibility to Kennel coughs, including:

  • Age (particularly puppies whose immune systems are not yet fully developed)
  • Cold temperature
  • Smoke or dust exposure
  • Stress


This life-threatening issue is the result of Dirofilaria immitis – a dangerous parasitic worm – which is transmitted via infected mosquito bites.

Specifically, when the mosquitos carrying infective larvae bite your dog, these larvae will enter the pet’s bloodstream and, over time, matures into worms.

As the worms feed on blood vessels, lugs, and hearts, they can grow to extreme lengths (several inches) and destroy the dog’s organs and cardiovascular system.

The dog wheezing while breathing is only to be expected.


Also referred to as chronic bronchitis, asthma is common in small senior breed dogs – characterized by excess lung mucus and long-term inflammations.

Coughing is usually the most tell-tale signal, but as the issue develops, the dog’s lungs will form scar issues and give room for wheezes.

It is not always easy to identify asthma – but overall, the condition tends to manifest from recurring cigarette smoke exposure or any other indicator of bad air quality.

Thus, always remind yourself to smoke with windows opened, outside the house, or in another room to ensure better household airflow for your pet.

Congestive Heart Failure

Senior dogs that start coughing and wheezing more than usual are probably going down with heart disease – particularly congestive heart failure.

As the issue worsens, lung fluids are produced, causing a severe wheezing increase; the dog might even cough out these fluids in serious cases!

Congestive failure, unfortunately, has no cure, but the right medication and treatment can keep it under control.

Professional vets will factor in all the critical information to give you the best solution for your dog.

What Does Dog Wheezing Sound Like?

Should I be worried if my dog is wheezing

Although the sound quality might vary across different cases and dog breeds, these noises are generally high-pitched and sound more or less like a whistle.

Even humans will make the same wheezing sound, so they should not be difficult to discern.

Since the airway is obstructed/narrowed, the airflow is disrupted and generates vibrations – which are then transmitted to the chest walls and vocal cords.

This explains why the dog breathing wheezing sounds so whiny.

The canine wheezes become all the more transparent during exhalation, mostly exhibited with open mouths or heard when the dogs breathe heavily through the noses.

Pay more attention during these critical moments.

What If The Dog Wheezes But Otherwise Acts Normal?

Even if the wheezing dog proceeds normally regarding appetite, activity level, behaviors, and other well-being aspects, its owners should still not let down their guards.

Monitor the dog closely to ensure no underlying discomfort or respiratory issues.

And if the wheezes are indeed temporary, chances are your house is infested with short-term irritants, such as allergens, dust, or mild contaminations.

In that case, sweep up the residence thoroughly to give the dog’s airway more room to process airflow.

In other cases, wheezes and sneezes also stem from temporary constriction due to exercises, playfulness, or the leash being pulled a bit tight.

I also notice my pooch wheezing and sneezing when they get kisses from me. So locate the source of the problem and adjust accordingly.

How To Help Dogs Wheezing While Breathing?

Stay Far From Allergic Triggers

Keeping your eyes on possible triggers for the dog’s allergies is one of the most (if not the most) critical steps to ensure its well-being.

For beginners who have no idea where to start, your best bet is to seek professional support from veterinarians, who can offer insights into specific allergens for each dog breed.

Then use the information given to take baby steps in minimizing the trigger exposure. Some extra tips can be of help:

  • Apply humidifiers between the indoor spaces to promote respiratory systems
  • Ban smoking from the house
  • Use beddings with hypoallergenic materials (resistant to allergens and mites)
  • Follow an allergy-free diet (like using specialized lamb dog food for allergies)

Clean Its Sleeping and Eating Surface

Wheezes and coughs only worsen if you pay zero attention to where the dog eats and sleeps. The surrounding environment must be cozy, comfortable – and, most importantly, clean.

Thus, ensure the surface is free of dust and grime before placing your puppy there for the rest of the night.

Always Stay By Its Side

On another note, it is not the brightest idea in the world to leave the dog alone on its own.

Any mishap might happen the moment you leave your eyes off them – not to mention, an anxious, itching dog is certainly not on its best behavior!

Remember to check on the pet at least every 2 hours.

Stay Calm and Do Not Overreact

Wheezing dogs that keep scratching their own skin is surely a terrifying sight, but do not use it as a cue to freak out yourself.

Canines are smart and can easily detect signals of anxiousness and worry in their owners.

Failure to control your emotion might give the pet even more tension and, as a result, worsens the wheezes and coughs.

Offer Proper Ventilation

Nothing can shoo wheezes away better than proper ventilation; with better breathing and less respiratory discomfort, your dog will return to normal in no time.

During this critical period, always keep the pet in open and ventilated areas with as much airflow as possible. Use fans or open all windows to welcome more air exchange.

Turn to Medical Treatments

When none of the natural methods work, take the pet to a veterinarian.

Make sure you have the full recounts of the dog’s health issues, travel/ vaccine history, and current medications (heartworm included).

Professionals will use laboratory tests (X-ray, bloodwork, etc.) and physical exams to determine where the wheezes come from if necessary.

From there, several treatment scenarios are proposed:

  • For foreign objects: The vet will sedate your pet and use medical instruments to remove the object
  • For infectious causes: Corresponding solutions will be applied
  • For allergic bronchitis or asthma: Aside from advice on allergen management at home, the vet will discuss with you the possible medications to have the issue under control
  • For heart diseases: Medications are prescribed to boost better, easier heart pumps. You should also give the pet a cool resting place and keep overheating at bay.

When You Should Be Concerned About Your Dog’s Wheezing?

Can dog wheezing go away on its own

Should I be worried if my dog is wheezing? 

As mentioned above, there are times when the wheezes are temporary and instantly go away after careful house decontamination and allergen removal.

So when should one start worrying about their symptoms, and how to know whether such cases require emergency treatment?

Observe whether your canine checks at least one of the boxes below:

  • It Gasps for Breaths: Breathing difficulties signal life-threatening emergencies (heart condition or allergic reaction).
  • It Is Gagging: Retches or gags alongside wheezes implicate something got stuck in the dog’s windpipe.
  • It Coughs and Wheezes: Wheezes accompanied by serious coughs are tell-tale signals or foreign objects in the dog’s trachea, low-airway diseases, Kennel cough, or respiratory infection.
  • It Shows Blue Tongue or Gums: Blue tongues/gums AND breathing issues? That cannot mean something good. Your dogs are likely lacking in oxygen and need medical attention right away.
  • It Wheezes With Accelerated Breathing Rates: Does your dog breathe faster than usual? Then heart diseases or chronic bronchitis are likely to be the culprit.
  • It Does Not Have Any Appetite: Serious infection tends to drive the wheezing dog away from its food.
  • It Cannot Stop Wheezing: This signal should be obvious; once you realize the wheezes are unlikely to resolve themselves anytime soon, it’s time to visit a vet to confirm whether any underlying cause is at play.

How to Prevent A Dog Making Wheezing Sounds In The Future? 

The following tips will prove practical for future preventions of your dog making wheezing noises:

  • Test Your Pet for Allergies: Once you know the specific allergens that can trigger the wheezes, avoiding them in the future or planning allergy-free diets should be a breeze.
  • Invest in Air Purifiers: Airborne particles, pet dander, and dust have no room to develop with a high-quality purifier installed in your indoor environment.
  • Bundle in The Cold: Owners taking their pets for a walk in winter should cover them with protective, appropriate clothing. That way, the cold air cannot cause your pets any respiratory discomfort.
  • Use Harnesses: Instead of collars, using harnesses will help reduce excessive strain on the pet’s neck and throat, which, in turn, minimizes wheezing risks.


A dog wheezing when breathing should be treated seriously – especially when the case involves chronic diseases or allergic reactions.

Keeping your house clean, nice, and free of dust and grime is a must, and always remember to protect the dog against cold weather with warm clothes.

If you have any other questions on your dog breathing problems wheezing, my team is all ears.


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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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