When your dog starts making a wheezing sound, it's natural to worry. Wheezing is that high-pitched whistle you hear when they breathe, and it can mean there’s something wrong with their breathing.

With help from Dr. Ryane E. Englar DVM, DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice), we're going to look into why dogs wheeze and what you might be able to do about it. Whether it’s something simple like a reaction to pollen or something more serious that needs a vet's attention, understanding why your dog wheezes is the first step to helping them feel better.

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  1. Why Is My Dog Wheezing
  2. Why Is My Dog Wheezing And Gagging
  3. Why Is My Dog Wheezing While Sleeping
  4. Why Is My Dog Coughing and Wheezing
  5. What to Do When Your Dog Starts Wheezing
  6. FAQs
  7. Conclusion

Why Is My Dog Wheezing

Wheezing happens when it’s hard for air to move through your dog's airways. This could be because of allergies, infections, or even heart problems. It’s important to figure out why your dog is wheezing so you can help them in the best way.

Hearing your dog wheeze can be scary. Wheezing is that sound they make that’s kind of like a whistle when they breathe. It can happen for different reasons, some not too serious and others more so. Here’s a quick look at what’s going on:

What the Expert Says About Wheezing

Dr. Ryane E. Englar’s research tells us, "Normally, you shouldn’t hear much when your dog breathes. But if there’s something blocking their airway, you might hear noises."

She talks about two kinds of sounds, stertor and stridor, which are fancy words for different wheezing noises dogs can make.

Stertor is a low sound, kind of like snoring, often heard in short-nosed breeds like Bulldogs. Stridor is a sharper, high-pitched sound and might mean something serious like a problem with the throat or windpipe. Reasons for both include:

  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (breathing issues common in short-nosed breeds
  • Collapsed tracheas
  • Kennel cough
  • Obesity
  • Heat disease
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Allergic reactions
  • Reactions to certain respiratory irritants or toxins
  • Respiratory tract infections (including pneumonia & bronchitis)
  • Foreign objects stuck in the throat
  • Asthma

Research shows that there are quite a number of infectious canine respiratory disease that can also cause wheezing, as well as other symptoms like fever and coughing.

Knowing these sounds can help tell us what might be wrong and shows how important it is to listen closely if your dog starts wheezing. If the wheezing doesn't stop, it’s a good idea to see a vet to figure out what’s wrong and how to help your dog feel better.

Why Is My Dog Wheezing And Gagging

Wheezing and gagging in dogs can be distressing to witness as a pet owner. These symptoms can have various causes, ranging from relatively minor to more serious conditions. Understanding the common reasons behind these signs is crucial in determining whether you need to take immediate action or monitor your pet's condition. Here are some of the most frequent causes:

Foreign Objects

Dogs are curious and sometimes swallow things they shouldn't, like small toys or pieces of food, leading to obstruction in their airways and causing wheezing and gagging.


Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies to dust, pollen, or certain foods. These allergies can inflame their airways, making it hard for them to breathe and causing wheezing, along with gagging as they try to clear their throat.

If you suspect your dog is exploring somewhere they shouldn’t be that could be affecting their airways, you can always invest in a GPS tracker to track your dogs movements and monitor possible allergens or irritants they could be exposed to.

Kennel Cough

This highly contagious respiratory disease is known for causing a dry, hacking cough that can sound like gagging. It's spread in places where dogs are in close quarters, such as kennels or dog parks.

Heart Disease

Heart conditions can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs or around the heart, making it difficult for dogs to breathe and causing symptoms like wheezing and coughing, which might look like gagging.

Collapsing Trachea

This condition is more common in small breeds and occurs when the tracheal rings collapse, making it hard for air to pass through, leading to wheezing and a gagging cough.

Respiratory Infections

Bacterial or viral infections can inflame the respiratory tract, causing wheezing, coughing, and gagging due to mucus buildup.

When you notice your dog displaying these symptoms, it’s crucial to observe them closely to determine the cause. For situations where it’s not clear what’s troubling your dog or if the symptoms persist, consulting a veterinarian is always the best course of action.

In cases where you can’t always be around to monitor your pet, tools like the Petcube Pet Camera can be invaluable. This device allows you to keep an eye on your dog remotely, letting you see and hear what they’re doing and even talk to them. Whether you’re at work or just in another room, you can have peace of mind knowing you can check in on your pup and ensure they’re not in distress due to wheezing, gagging, or any other reason.

Why Is My Dog Wheezing While Sleeping

Wheezing while sleeping in dogs could be due to sleep apnea, Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BOAS), or other respiratory issues. These conditions disrupt normal breathing patterns, leading to wheezing sounds as the dog struggles to maintain airflow through obstructed or narrowed airways during rest.

Possible Reasons for Wheezing While Sleeping

  • Sleep Apnea & Sleep Disordered Breathing
    Similar to humans, dogs can suffer from sleep apnea, a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, often resulting in wheezing or snorting sounds. Research also shows that short-nosed dog breeds are very prone to sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). This can affect their ability to sleep so much that some dogs may need surgery.

  • Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BOAS)
    This issue is related to sleep apnea. It is common in breeds with short noses like Bulldogs and Pugs, BOAS can cause wheezing due to narrowed airways, making it difficult for the dog to breathe smoothly while resting.

  • Obesity
    Studies show that overweight dogs are at a higher risk of developing respiratory issues, including wheezing during sleep, as excess fat can pressure the airways.

  • Allergies
    Allergic reactions can cause inflammation in the airways, leading to wheezing even while the dog is sleeping, according to veterinary research.

  • Respiratory Infections
    Infections in the respiratory system can cause congestion and mucus buildup, obstructing airflow and causing wheezing sounds.

  • Heart Disease
    Some heart conditions can lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary edema), resulting in wheezing while the dog is lying down or asleep.

  • Environmental Factors
    Smoke, dust, or other irritants in the environment can affect a dog's airways, causing them to wheeze during sleep.

It's essential to observe your dog's sleeping behavior and wheezing patterns. If your dog is wheezing frequently while sleeping, it's a good idea to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Sometimes, the wheezing may be mild and not a cause for concern, but it's always better to be cautious.

To help keep an eye on your dog's sleeping habits and detect any unusual wheezing early, consider using a Petcube Pet Camera. This device allows you to monitor your pet remotely, day and night, ensuring that you can act quickly if your dog's wheezing becomes a cause for concern.

Why Is My Dog Coughing and Wheezing

Coughing and wheezing in dogs can be symptoms of various conditions, from common issues like kennel cough and reverse sneezing to more serious problems such as exposure to poisons or toxins and laryngeal paralysis. These symptoms indicate that your dog's respiratory system is irritated or obstructed in some way.

Extensive List of Possible Reasons For Coughing and Wheezing In Dogs

  • Kennel Cough
    A highly contagious respiratory disease known for causing a persistent, dry cough that can be accompanied by wheezing.

  • Reverse Sneezing
    Although not a true cough, it can resemble coughing and wheezing. It's usually caused by irritation of the soft palate and throat, leading to a sudden, forceful inhalation of air.

  • Allergies
    Allergic reactions to pollen, dust, mold, or food can inflame the airways, causing coughing and wheezing.

  • Heart Disease
    Conditions like congestive heart failure can cause fluid to build up in the lungs, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing.

  • Laryngeal Paralysis
    A condition where the larynx doesn't function properly, making it hard for the dog to breathe and causing noisy breathing and coughing.

  • Tracheal Collapse
    Common in small breeds, this condition causes the trachea to collapse and results in a honking cough and wheezing.

  • Asthma
    Similar to humans, research shows that dogs can suffer from asthma or inflamed airways, which can cause wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

  • Pneumonia
    An infection that inflames the air sacs in the lungs, leading to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. This is also true of other lower respiratory diseases found in studies.

  • Foreign Objects
    If a dog inhales or swallows a foreign object, it can become lodged in the throat or airways, causing coughing, gagging, and wheezing.

  • Poisons or Toxins
    Exposure to toxic substances can cause respiratory distress, leading to coughing and wheezing as the body tries to expel the toxin.

  • Infectious Diseases
    Other infectious respiratory diseases, aside from kennel cough, can also cause coughing and wheezing.

When your dog shows signs of coughing and wheezing, it's crucial to closely monitor them and consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and ensure your dog's health and comfort.

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What to Do When Your Dog Starts Wheezing

When your dog starts wheezing, it's important to first assess the situation calmly. Wheezing can range from a mild, temporary issue to a sign of a more serious health problem. Here are steps you can take and some home remedies to consider:

  • Keep Your Dog Calm
    Stress can worsen wheezing, so try to keep your dog as calm as possible.

  • Check for Obstructions
    Safely inspect your dog's mouth and throat to ensure there's no foreign object causing the wheezing.

  • Create a Clean Environment
    Reduce potential allergens by keeping your home clean and dust-free. Consider using an air purifier to remove airborne irritants.

  • Humidify the Air
    Using a humidifier can help soothe your dog's airways if the wheezing is due to dry air or mild congestion.

  • Limit Exposure to Irritants
    Keep your dog away from smoke, perfumes, and other strong odors that can aggravate breathing difficulties.

  • Consult Your Vet
    If wheezing persists or if your dog seems in distress, it's crucial to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.


What should I do if my dog is wheezing and gasping for breath?

If your dog is struggling to breathe, it's considered an emergency. Keep your dog calm and cool, and seek veterinary care immediately. This could indicate a severe respiratory issue or obstruction.

Dog sneezing and wheezing – is it a concern?

Sneezing and wheezing can be signs of allergies, respiratory infections, or even foreign bodies in the nose. If it's occasional, it might not be urgent, but if symptoms persist, consult your vet.

Dog is wheezing and hacking – what could it mean?

Wheezing and hacking can point to conditions like reverse sneezing, infections, laryngeal paralysis, cough, tracheal collapse, or even heart disease. Observing any accompanying symptoms and consulting with a vet can help pinpoint the cause.

Dog wheezing after eating – should I be worried?

Wheezing after eating might occur if your dog eats too quickly or is allergic to something in their food. Monitor their eating habits and consider a slow feeder or discussing diet changes with your vet. Also, be careful not to confuse wheezing after earring with choking.

Why is my dog wheezing and hacking?

Wheezing and hacking could be symptoms of respiratory issues like bronchitis or asthma, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy or loss of appetite. A vet visit is recommended for a proper diagnosis.

Dog keeps wheezing and hacking – what can I do?

Consistent wheezing and hacking warrant a veterinary examination to rule out chronic conditions, infections, or allergies. Documenting when the wheezing occurs can help your vet make a diagnosis.

Dog wheezing and sneezing – are they related?

Wheezing and sneezing can both be responses to respiratory irritation or allergies. While they can be related, observing other symptoms will help determine if they're part of a larger issue.

For any persistent or severe symptoms, always consult with a veterinarian to ensure your dog receives the appropriate care and treatment. Keeping a watchful eye on your dog's health and behavior is crucial, and tools like the Petcube Pet Camera can help you monitor them, even when you're not home, providing peace of mind and aiding in early detection of potential health issues.


In conclusion, wheezing in dogs can stem from a variety of causes, from the relatively benign to the potentially serious. Understanding the common reasons for wheezing, along with the associated symptoms, is crucial for providing the right care for your pup.

Whether it’s an environmental allergen or a more serious respiratory condition, recognizing when to seek veterinary help is key to ensuring your dog's health and well-being. Home remedies can offer temporary relief, but they're no substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always prioritize your dog's comfort and safety, and stay vigilant for signs of distress.

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