What Causes Dog Wheezing?

A dog wheezing persistently can be alarming for dog parents. One common cause is an allergic reaction to airborne irritants such as pollen, cigarette smoke, dust, and so on. There are also other health issues that may cause a dog to wheeze, such as heartworm infestations and upper respiratory problems. This page looks at some common causes and what we can do if our dogs start wheezing.

Causes of Dog Wheezing Dog wheezing sounds like a person who is having an asthma attack. It is therefore understandable that many dog parents find the wheezing sound coming from their dogs very alarming.

A dog's airways are extremely delicate and sensitive. In a healthy dog, the airways expand and contract in such a way that the right amount of oxygen can get to the lungs. However, when there is a problem with the airways causing them to contract too much, oxygen has to squeeze its way through, making a high-pitched wheezing sound.

Information on Wheezing in Dogs

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Possible Causes of Dog Wheezing


Perhaps the most common cause of dog wheezing is some kind of airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust, cigarette smoke, etc. These allergens can irritate a dog's airways causing the dog to wheeze. Other substances that can also trigger dog wheezing as an allergic reaction include some pesticides, chemicals for household cleaning, and even insect stings and bites.

Upper Respiratory Problems

When a dog is suffering from some kind of upper respiratory problems that irritate the airways or cause chest congestion, the dog will wheeze too.

Common upper respiratory problems include:

  • Kennel cough: If a dog has kennel cough, wheezing is accompanied by a dry, hacking cough.
  • Asthma: Asthma in dogs is not as frequent as in cats, but sometimes dog also get asthma as a result of allergic reactions to some airborne allergens. Dog wheezing caused by asthma is usually accompanied by coughing and sneezing.
  • Bronchitis: Dogs with bronchitis also have a dry, hacking cough, which may be accompanied by wheezing and gagging.


If you live in a place where mosquitoes are abundant, it is essential that your dog get medications for heartworm prevention. Otherwise, if the dog gets infected by heartworms, he can become very sick. Heartworm larvae reside inside infected mosquitoes which can then be transmitted into your dog's blood stream if he is unluckily bitten by one of the infected mosquitoes. Within six months, the larvae can move to the dog's heart and develop into long, spaghetti-like worms which may block the flow of blood. Reduced blood flow in the dog's body means reduced oxygen supply. This causes dog wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue and weight loss.

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When To See A Vet

Occasional wheezing that stops within 20 to 30 minutes is usually not serious. It probably is caused by something that is irritating the dog's airways.

However, if the wheezing lasts longer than 30 minutes, or if the dog has been wheezing on and off rather frequently, it is likely that something more serious is going on with your dog's health. It is therefore important to find out and tackle the underlying cause.

Take your dog to the vet if the wheezing is accompanied by any of the following signs:

You should also take your dog to the vet if:

  • she starts wheezing and coughing after exercise;
  • she starts wheezing after being stung by an insect;
  • she has recently started panting and wheezing at night, especially if she is an older dog.

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What We Can Do To Help

Here are some of the things that we can do for dog wheezing:

Use a Humidifier

Dry air tends to irritate the dog's airways more. Humidifying the air is an easy way to soothe the airways and put moisture inside the dog's lungs.

Use Essential Oils

Another way to give your wheezing dog some relief is to use essential oils. One quick way to vaporize the oils is to bring your dog into a steamy bathroom right after you have finished your shower and let her lay on the floor. Drop 1-2 drops of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) essential oil onto the bathroom floor. The combination of the steam and the vaporized oil can greatly help to clear up chest and sinus congestion.

Fight Allergies

If you suspect that your dog wheezes because of some kind of allergy, try to look at her environment and see if there has been any recent change. For example, have you changed to a new floor cleaner? Has someone been smoking around the dog? Does she wheeze mostly in the spring and early summer time? Write down a list of possible causes and try to eliminate each cause, one at a time. If the wheezing goes away, you have identified the culprit.

You can also use herbs and homeopathic remedies to alleviate some of the symptoms (e.g. wheezing, sneezing) brought on by allergies.

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This natural herbal product uses herbs such as marshmallow, skullcap, olive leaf, and more to synergistically help dog with breathing problems, cough, shortness of breath, and/or wheezing.

Boost the Immune System

Dogs with poor immune systems tend to develop allergies and respiratory infections easily. These health problems can trigger wheezing. It makes sense therefore to strengthen the dog's immune system so she can fight infections. Vitamin C as well as immune-boosting herbs such as garlic, echinacea, and astragalus are effective.

An Excellent Immune-Strengthening Formula

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