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Dogs are wonderful companions that we sometimes value over ourselves. When you have such a companion at your home, their slightest concern automatically becomes yours. One of these concerns is breathing. Have you ever exclaimed: My dog breathes heavy when I pet him. Is it stress? Or is it normal?

Fortunately, this heavy breathing while petting is often normal. It mostly means that your dog is excited to see you. However, it’s not always good when the dog breathes fast as you hug him.

Read on to learn how to differentiate between normal heavy breathing and its problematic counterpart.

a tired dog

Why Does My Dog Breathe Heavily When I Pet Them?

The most common reason for your dog’s heavy breathing while petting is excitement. This is especially the case if you’ve just come home from work and are seeing your dog after a long absence.

Fortunately, this isn’t a cause for concern. Heavy or rapid breathing is often associated with the body’s fight or flight response.

Without going too much into science, that response elevates your body’s attentive functions even if you’re not exerting effort.

The best way to describe this is how you’d feel as you receive your paper during a test. The moment you get your paper and start reading the questions, your heart rate may rise, and you might breathe heavily.

That elevated physical condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in distress. You’ll have the same response if you receive a gift you’ve longly waited for.

On applying the same theory to your dog, you’ll have nothing to worry about. Your dog is excited to see you, and he’s all jumpy and active, which causes a state of “normal” heavy breathing.

That normal breathing often comes with tail wagging and head bumping, which are signs that your dog is fine and healthy, but just too excited.

Why Does My Dog Breathe Heavily When I Hug Him?

Hugging your dog is a matter of debate. When you hug your dog, you may give him the same mental state he gets from petting, if not more. In that case, hugging your dog can make him feel close to you, and that might make him breathe even heavier.

However, some dogs don’t like hugging too much. They may get stressed out when you do so. You should pay attention to your dog’s body language to tell the difference.

If your dog is excited and his tail is wagging, then everything is fine. If you feel that he’s actively trying to get off of your grip, then he might not be in the mood for a hug. The heavy breathing in that scenario is more like irritation than it’s excitement.

Keep an eye on your dog’s tail as he breathes heavily. If it’s not all excited and wagging, then your dog isn’t in the mood. You should also ensure that you’re not hugging your dog too tightly and restricting his breathing.

Dog Sighs When I Pet Them, Why?

Many dogs respond with a gentle sigh when you pet them. There are a few reasons for that:

1.   Your Dog Is Imitating You

That’s right; dogs like to imitate their owners sometimes. Have you ever noticed how you let out a gentle sigh when you hug or sit next to someone you love and appreciate?

You might have not noticed it, but the relaxation you get from petting your dog may have made you sigh a few times.

On repetition, your dog will pick up that sigh and start to do it himself to show affection.

2.   Your Dog Is Enjoying It

Humans and dogs associate sighing with enjoying a certain activity. If your dog sighs as you pet him, he may be enjoying the moment.

Look for his tail wag; if it’s there, then he’s definitely loving it.

3.   Your Dog Is Relaxing

Being away from your dog for extended periods is quite stressful for him. Do that more often, and he may end up with separation anxiety.

So, when you meet and pet your dog after a long absence, he may finally get that relaxation he’s been seeking. That relaxation could come out as a gentle sigh.

4.   Your Dog Is Tired

Petting your dog gives him a great sense of security and comfort. Have you noticed how you sometimes forget that you’re tired, and then realize how exhausted you are the moment you throw yourself in bed?

Petting your dog could have the same effect. He’s now in his haven and can breathe easy for a moment, so expect a few sighs while it happens.

Dog Makes Snoring Sound When I Pet Them

Dog breathing heavy

If you hear your dog snoring during petting (or in general), then it could mean a problem. Here are a few reasons why your dog would snore when you pet him:

1.   Soft Palate Spasm

The soft palate is the back part of your upper mouth. Do you remember when Tom used to put Jerry in his mouth, and then Jerry would go full punching bag on a hanging piece of tissue? That’s the extension of the soft palate.

If your dog has the condition of soft palate spasm or “reverse sneezing,” you should expect to hear a snore-like sound whenever too much air is going through the respiratory airway.

Since you’re petting your dog, then he’s excited, which means heavier breathing and more air.

2.   Respiratory Tract Infections

Dogs are liable to various respiratory tract infections. You should educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of these infections so you can take your dog to the vet if you notice any of them.

You also shouldn’t skip your dog’s vet checkups, as they can be the reason behind discovering such infections even if there are no signs.

3.   Breed Related Issues

Dogs with shorter snouts have various breed-related problems; the snoring sound is one of them. Breeds like Pugs, Frenchies, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers belong to a category named brachycephalic dogs.

These dogs often suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome, which restricts the size of their airways. That syndrome, along with the small snout, can cause a snoring sound when your dog breathes too heavily.

4.   Obstructions

If there’s something stuck in your dog’s airway, it’ll manifest as a snoring sound. The most obvious sign of obstructions is when your dog starts snoring when he didn’t use to do that before.

In other words, if your dog already snoring because of a harmless condition, then it’s fine. However, if he suddenly starts snoring, then something could be wrong. Take him to the vet.

The Verdict

Heavy breathing while petting is often a good sign, especially if your dog is wagging his tail while you’re petting him.

On the other hand, hugging isn’t always welcome by dogs and may sometimes stress them out. The heavy breathing, in this case, isn’t excitement; it’s irritation.

Also, if you hear your dog snoring as you pet him, then you need to follow the method of elimination. If your dog is diagnosed by the vet to have a narrow airway, then snoring is normal in that case.

However, if your dog started snoring out of the blue, something could be lodged in his airway. A visit to the vet could be a lifesaver.