Why is My Cavapoo Heavy Breathing?

Being a pet parent is a joy. From waking up to your pup’s wagging tail, to snuggling up on the couch after a long day at work, to enjoying a romp in the backyard together, your Cavapoo fills your days with light and laughter.

Being a pet parent also comes with a good deal of responsibility, and occasionally, you might find yourself worrying about your best friend’s health. There are many reasons your Cavapoo might be breathing abnormally—read on to learn more.

why is my cavapoo heavy breathing
Why is my Cavapoo heavy breathing?

Note: this article is not intended as medical advice. Please seek out the expert opinion of your veterinarian and do not rely on these tips alone to diagnose your dog. 

If your dog is experiencing heavy breathing in tandem with any of the following conditions, contact your veterinarian or an emergency vet immediately:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Extreme redness of the gums
  • Agitation/aggression
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Collapse

Normal Causes of Heavy Breathing in Dogs

Not all heavy breathing in dogs is cause for concern. There are many reasons dogs pant. Here are some normal reasons for your dog to be breathing heavily. 

cavapoo puppy toys
A Cavapoo puppy playing with a soft toy. Photo Mia Anderson/Unsplash

Heat and Activity

Since dogs can’t sweat, they pant to regulate their body temperature. It’s normal for dogs to breathe hard on a hot day. Additionally, after an intense bout of exercise, it’s natural for your dog to pant.

Age and Size

Puppies breathe at a faster rate than adult dogs. Small dogs breathe faster than large dogs. The normal breathing rate for an adult dog is usually between 10-35 breaths per minute, depending on size. For a puppy, a normal breathing rate is between 15-40 breaths per minute.


Certain breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, Bullmastiffs, Shih Tzus, and Lhasa Apsos have shorter than normal snouts. These breeds are called brachycephalic dogs, and they typically have a more difficult time breathing than other types of dogs. 

It’s normal (though not necessarily good) for these breeds to breathe more heavily, or to make more noise when breathing. 

The Cavapoo is a hybrid breed of the Cavalier King Charles and the Poodle. While their muzzles may not be as short as their Spaniel ancestors, they can still be susceptible to the breathing problems of brachycephalic dogs.

When to Be Concerned About Your Cavapoo’s Breathing?

There are other reasons that your Cavapoo might be breathing heavily. It could be due to an underlying medical condition, or your dog might be suffering from heatstroke, having an allergic reaction, or responding to toxicity. Here are some abnormal causes of heavy breathing.

Anxiety/Extreme Stress

Panting in dogs is often a sign of stress. This is usually something you can diagnose yourself, based on the situation. 

parti multi colour cavapoo
How amazing is the split colour coat on this Cavapoo puppy! Roberto Nickson/Unsplash

Are you in a new place? Is there a lot of activity or noise going on around you? Is your dog licking his lips a lot, looking around for danger, wide-eyed, tucking his tail, or displaying signs of aggression? If so, he might be stressed, and it’s best to remove him from the situation.


Your dog might be experiencing heatstroke if the temperature is abnormally high and/or he has been engaging in a lot of physical activity. Other symptoms of heatstroke include uncoordinated movement, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, reddened gums, collapsing, or loss of consciousness.

Cavapoo panting at the beach after activities
A Cavapoo is panting at the beach after physical activities. (Image: Instagram/@billythecavapoo)

Contact your vet if you think your dog has heatstroke.


Symptoms of poisoning vary, but often include panting, vomiting, agitation, aggression, or loss of consciousness. If your dog has been out of your sight within the last hour, he may have ingested something toxic without you knowing.

three cavapoo puppies
Three energetic Cavapoo puppies

Contact your vet if you think your dog has been poisoned.

Side Effects of Medication

Some dogs react badly to medications or may be allergic to certain ingredients. If your dog is on a new medication and is exhibiting signs of distress, he may be reacting to the medication.

panting Cavapoo inside tent
The Cavapoo is panting inside a tent. (Image: Instagram/@po.thecavapoo)

Contact your vet if you think your dog may be reacting badly to a new medication.

Underlying Health Issues

Common health causes of heavy breathing in dogs include heart failure, chronic respiratory conditions like bronchitis, and Cushing’s syndrome. While these causes are less common than other potential issues, they are serious and should always be discussed with a veterinarian.

cavapoo and maltipoo side by side
Cavapoo and Maltipoo puppy comparison

What to Do About Your Cavapoo’s Heavy Breathing

If your dog is breathing heavily at rest, or consistently seems to have trouble breathing despite his activity level or the temperature, you may have cause for concern. 

If your dog is conscious and not displaying any other signs of distress, pay very close attention to your dog, and monitor him for an hour or so. If the heavy breathing does not go away, contact your vet.

If you are concerned about your dog’s breathing, the best thing to do is contact your veterinarian. It’s always best to err on the side of caution. A quick phone call to discuss symptoms might save your dog’s life (or save you a day of worry!)