Why Is My Dog Wheezing

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dog wheezing

Why is my dog wheezing? A wheezing dog is a disconcerting sound for the owner, especially if your dog is aging or ill of health. If you have an older dog, wheezing or heavy breathing can often be a sign that the end is near. It might also be a sign of asthma or some sort of allergy to air-born toxins or cigarette smoke, but it’s not always the case. Wheezing can be a symptom of a number of other health issues that don’t necessarily signal an immediate death.

dog wheezing

The air passages in dogs are much more sensitive in dogs than humans. This is a lot to do with their acute sense of smell. Normally, your dog’s air passages expand and contract at regular intervals to ensure they are getting the right levels of oxygen into their bloodstream. Often enough something can go wrong and this disrupts the natural process. Incoming oxygen has difficulty in making its way through the body, and this can lead to wheezing.

There are a number of common causes that will cause your dog to suffer a bit of wheezing and general discomfort, but generally these are not life threatening.

Causes of Dog Wheezing

Hay Fever

Allergens like pollen or dust can irritate the nasal cavities and air passages. If you find your dog suffering from canine hay fever, consult your vet for the best course of action. There may be allergy relief medication readily available to help him through the summer months. If this is the case, you should refrain from smoking around your dog, if you’re a smoker. If your pet suffers from allergies in the air, it’s probable that it’s more than just pollen that’s going to set them off.


Asthma is actually surprisingly common in dogs. You may not have noticed it until your dog began wheezing, but, again, it is generally allergens in the air that will trigger this fit of wheezing, often followed by coughing or sneezing. Your vet will be able to determine for you whether it is a case of nasal irritation or something more serious like asthma. This isn’t something you need to be overly concerned with, but it is something you should keep an eye on and ask your vet about with each check up.

Here is a video of a dog wheezing continuously:


General infections, picked up from any number of places, can lead to an irritation of the air passages, which can often lead to wheezing. These are often viral infections and can be treated with antibiotics from your vet. Dog’s can pick up a viral infection due to a weak immune system. If you find that this is a persistent issue for your dog, you should change its diet. You’re probably not giving it a good balance of nutrients that build a healthy immune system. But generally, dogs have a much better immunity to these things than humans, so it would be quite rare for it to be a persistent issue.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is something your dog may have picked up while you were away on vacation or something. Dogs can pick up all manner of troublesome woes at the kennel. After all, no one looks after their dog as well as you do, so all those other mangy dogs are probably riddled with sicknesses that your poor fellow has been subjected to. Dogs with a spot of kennel cough will often have a dry air channel and cough quite a bit. This will either pass with a bit of time or some cheap fix medicine from the vet. It’s nothing to worry about though.

Chemicals in the air

Chemicals in the house, like cleaning products, can often cause your dogs to sneeze and wheeze a bit if they’ve inhaled too much. You should keep the house well ventilated if you’re doing a serious spring clean because it might make your dogs a little uncomfortable with all those sprays and air fresheners floating in the air. Either keep the doors open or leave the dogs in the garden; it depends on the weather I suppose.


Bronchitis is another reason your Fido might be wheezing away in the corner. This is an inflammation of the upper airways, which carry air from the windpipe to the lungs and back again. In dogs, this can be chronic and so it lasts a long time. It can be quite discomforting to the owner, but generally it’s not fatal. This can be triggered by viral or bacterial infections and even powdered dog foods. In severe cases, this can lead to broken ribs and a lot of pain for your dog, so see your vet for an x-ray if you suspect bronchitis.


Parasites can cause your dog to wheeze as well. Heartworms are among the most common, but if you’re in any way a decent dog owner, you’ll have had your dog treated for the prevention of such parasites long before they occur. If your dog is unlucky enough to suffer from such parasites, the treatment can be a long and costly journey to a full recovery. So do the right thing and get your dog treated before all of this happens. Heartworms left untreated in your dog’s body will, as the name suggests, can migrate towards your dog’s heart where they will develop into adult heartworms, blocking off the blood flow and resulting in great discomfort and other health issues. Open-heart surgery to remove heartworms will inevitably be a costly procedure.

General, age-related deterioration

In older dogs, heart problems will lead to wheezing. This is the dreaded sound you’ve feared would come. Your long standing companion is reaching the abyss. Overweight dogs may also suffer from heart problems, regardless of their age. And although some dogs are just ‘bigger’ than others, a morbidly obese dog can really only blame their owner. You need to set rules from a young age. Healthy eating habits are an absolute must for any dog. Feeding scraps and developing bad eating habit and a poor diet are absolutely going to lead to a premature death. You have a great responsibility, as a dog owner, to ensure your dog’s diet is a healthy one, just as you do with a child. With many dogs, a healthy diet might not be enough, and so regular exercise can help in the prevention of obesity. But you knew that already, didn’t you?


More serious and morbid reasons for your dog’s wheezing might be down to a tumor, generally in the lungs. As with a human getting lung cancer, the chances of surviving this are slim. And it’s unlikely you’re going to put your dog through months of chemotherapy because it’s expensive. Very expensive. This is most likely to happen in old age, and you should view it as a natural death due to their old age. They’ve hopefully lived a happy and fruitful life at your side. But if your dog begins to wheeze somewhat persistently, and they’re old, it’s perhaps time to say your goodbyes. It is your own decision, but it might be viewed as cruel to let the dog live out its last days in discomfort. Consult your vet and take on their advice as well.







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