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For a little while now I have noticed that my (8 month old) puppy often doesn't breathe entirely cleanly. It's most noticeable when she's relaxed and being petted (but not so much when she's asleep).

It isn't congested to the point that she's unable to breathe through her nose, but one can hear mucous being sucked down as she inhales. Occasionally one can also see a small amount of nasal discharge.

I raised this with my vet, but predictably the puppy wasn't exhibiting any signs at the time: he listened to her lungs with a stethoscope and couldn't hear anything wrong, so was fairly unconcerned and dismissed my report as likely to be attributable to a canine cold or heyfever (reminding me in the process that puppies, like babies, are still acquiring immunity against common infections).

That all sounds plausible enough, but the fact that it has persevered for so long without any improvement is beginning to make me wonder whether something else could be to blame.

  1. Is it normal for dogs to breathe like this when they're relaxed (and I've simply never before noticed it in other people's pets)?

  2. If not normal, how long should it take for a viral infection to clear in a young, but otherwise healthy, puppy?

  3. If not normal and "chronic" (by virtue of not having cleared by the time that it should), does it warrant further investigation given that it doesn't appear to be causing her any particular harm? I suppose it could indicate a problem with her immune system, or even be a sign of some more serious ENT issue: but I'm not inclined to put her through a whole load of unnecessary tests.

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So, it's not normal for dogs to have labored breathing, though the fact that it's not always happening is a good thing. If it was happening all the time, including during sleep, then it would be more cause for concern.

It's entirely possible that your puppy just has a mild allergy. Just like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to their environment and those reactions can be mild or extreme. If it is an allergy, then it's clearly a very mild one, however some possibilities on allergens would be things like:

  • pollens (good time of year for it)
  • dust
  • dander
  • smoke (if you smoke, do you pet her while smoking)
  • food (did you recently change diet?)

Try to watch for a bit more of a pattern. If shows up more frequently after she eats or comes from outside, that kind of thing. If it is an allergy, then it's probably not going to go away, but the frequency of the episodes will vary with the presence of the allergen(s).

At any rate, this is not a diagnosis as I'm not a vet, nor do I play one on TV. If your vet isn't strongly concerned and the breathing issues don't get worse, then I wouldn't be too concerned about it. Like I said, watch for patterns. You may discover something with respect to her activities that you can discuss with the vet as a result.

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+1 Good answer, thank you. As I say, the signs have been there for a while - indeed since before the onset of spring - so I suspect pollen can be ruled out. I'm not a smoker, but dust/dander/food are all possible allergens. She has been fed a diet of raw meat/bone/vegetable since I first got her, although the exact constituent elements has varied. –  eggyal May 4 at 14:44

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