Why Does My Dog Huff and Puff? (7 Common Reasons)

Categorized as Why Does My Dog
Why Does My Dog Huff and Puff?

Some dogs huff and puff a lot. Why? Well, there are lots of reasons for that, some more common than others. In this article, we will explore seven of the most common reasons why dogs might huff and puff.

1. Dogs Huff and Puff to Cool Themselves Down

Dogs huff and puff to cool themselves down. When the weather is hot, dogs will often pant and huff as a way to cool themselves down.

This is because dogs have a limited number of sweat glands and they can’t sweat through their skin the way humans do. So, panting and huffing helps to evaporate moisture from their mouths, which in turn cools their bodies down.

Here are some other signs that your dog might be too hot:

  • frantic panting
  • labored breathing
  • lethargic or sleepy behavior
  • excessive drooling
  • bright red membrane

2. Some Dogs May Have Respiratory Problems

Respiratory problems can be caused by a variety of things, such as allergies, parasites, smoke, and fumes. Some breeds also tend to be more prone to respiratory problems than others.

Flat-faced or brachycephalic dog breeds are the term used to describe breeds of dogs with a shortened skull and muzzle. This includes breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and Pekingese.

These breeds are more prone to respiratory problems because their airways are narrower than in other dog breeds. This can make it difficult for them to breathe, especially when they are hot or stressed.

Symptoms of respiratory problems in brachycephalic dogs include coughing, gagging, gasping for breath, and huffing and puffing.

Dogs displaying any respiratory signs should be taken to the vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment that include medication, surgery, or a combination of both.

3. They Maybe Anxious About Something

Some dogs huff and puff when they’re anxious or stressed about something. This could be a loud noise, a person they don’t know, or a situation that makes them feel uneasy.

To know if your dog is really anxious, look at their body language. Dogs that are anxious will often have a tense body and maybe cowering or trembling. Their ears may also be back and they may be trying to hide or run away.

If your dog is huffing and puffing in these situations, it’s necessary to try and figure out what’s causing them to be anxious and remove them from the situation before the situation gets worse.

4. They Could Be Excited

Dogs may also huff and puff when they’re excited. This could be because they’re happy to see you, because they want something, or because they’re getting ready to play.

So what do you do when your dog is getting all worked up? You give them what they want, of course!

If your dog is excited to see you, pet them and give them some love. If they’re excited about a treat, give them a treat. And if they’re getting ready to play, start playing with them!

5. They’re Trying To Get Your Attention

Dogs are mischievous little creatures that can do all sorts of things to get your attention. One of those things is huffing and puffing. They may do this when they want something, such as a treat or to go outside.

This reason is especially true if you tend to reward your dog for huffing and puffing since they were puppies. Maybe you give them a treat, pet them, or let them outside when they start huffing and puffing.

If this is the case, your dog has learned that huffing and puffing are a way to get your attention.

6. They’re Trying To Remove A Foreign Object From Their Mouth

When a dog swallows something they shouldn’t have, it can often get stuck in their throat. This could be a piece of food that’s stuck, a toy, or something else that’s caught in their throat.

Symptoms of something caught in a dog’s throat include difficulty breathing, gagging, and huffing and puffing. If you see your dog displaying any of these symptoms, take them to the vet immediately.

7. It’s a Sign of Aggression

If your dog’s huffing and puffing behavior is followed by growling or barking, it might be a sign of aggression. This is usually seen when a dog is trying to protect their territory or when they feel threatened.

You can see how this behavior could be dangerous, especially if the dog is near small children or elders. It’s easy for these situations to turn into a dog bite if you’re not careful.

If your dog is displaying this type of aggression, you should seek professional help right away.

When Should You Be Concerned With Your Dog’s Huffing and Puffing?

In some cases, there’s nothing to worry about when your dog huffs and puffs. It could just be a way for them to get your attention, or it could be a sign of excitement.

However, in the other half of cases, it could be a sign of a more serious problem such as respiratory problems, anxiety, or aggression. As a dog owner, you should be the one who is able to tell the difference.

What You Should Do When Your Dog Is Huffing and Puffing More Than Usual?

1. Get to the Bottom of What’s Causing Your Dog to Huff and Puff Excessively

If your dog is huffing and puffing more than usual, your very first step is to observe them and determine what might be causing the behavior. Without knowing what’s causing the huffing and puffing, it will be difficult to treat the problem.

2. Help Them To Cool Down

If you determine that your dog is huffing and puffing because they’re too hot, you can help them to cool down. Here are a few things you can do:

Make sure they have plenty of water to drink

This is the first step in helping your dog to cool down: making sure they have plenty of water to drink. They should always have fresh, cold water available at all times, and you might want to set up a bowl near their favorite resting spots so that it’s easy for them to get when they need it most.

If your pup does not seem interested in drinking, try adding some ice cubes or frozen fruit (like peaches) into the dish – this will help keep their body temperature regulated as well as hydrated.

Place a cooling pad in their crate or house

A cooling pad for dogs is a great way to help your pet regulate their body temperature and keep them cool during the summer months.

The pads are usually filled with water, which helps to dissipate heat from your dog’s body. You can also freeze the pad ahead of time to create a longer-lasting cooling effect.

Take them for a walk in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler outside

It could be dangerous for them to go on a walk during the day when it’s so hot out. Unlike us, they don’t have the ability to cool down by sweating making them susceptible to heatstroke.

This is why taking your pup on a walk in the early morning or evening may be ideal during the summer months. It’s cooler outside and there’s less risk of your dog developing heat stroke as they take their strolls around town.

3. Remove Your Dog from the Situation If They Seem to Be Anxious

There are some situations in which your dog may become too stimulated and become anxious or stressed. As soon as you notice that your pup is starting to get worked up, remove them from the situation.

This could be as easy as taking them out of the room or putting them in their crate. If they’re at a dog park, it might be time to leave.

Some common examples of situations in which dogs can become anxious or stressed are:

  • Meeting a new person or dog
  • Approaching a noisy street
  • Going to the vet

4. Rule Out a Health Issue

If your dog is exhibiting other symptoms along with the huffing and puffing, it’s possible that there’s an underlying health issue.

As mentioned earlier, respiratory problems are one possibility, but there are other health issues that could be causing your pup to huff and puff. The best way to determine if there’s an underlying health issue is to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.

5. Consult with a Dog Trainer or Animal Behaviorist If Your Dog Shows Any Signs of Aggression

Aggression should never be taken lightly. If your dog is exhibiting signs of aggression, it’s important to consult with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist.

There could be a number of reasons why your dog is showing aggression, and it’s best to get help in order to determine the root of the problem. Don’t risk your dog’s safety or the safety of others and don’t try to deal with the aggression on your own.


Dogs huff and puff for many reasons, some of which are quite serious. Try to keep an eye on your pup and see if you can identify any potential causes of the excessive breathing.

If your dog is exhibiting any other concerning symptoms, don’t delay taking them to the vet. And if your dog is showing signs of aggression, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist.

Taking action as soon as there are red flags is always the best course of action.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.