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Why Does My Pomeranian Hyperventilate?

Hyperventilating describes what happens when a person or animal is breathing faster or deeper than normal. With humans, it is not uncommon for it to occur if someone is stressed or is having anxiety. However, with dogs, this happens for different reasons.

As an owner, you are understandably concerned if you have seen your Pomeranian hyperventilating and do not know for sure why it is happening. This section will discuss the various reasons why this is happening to your dog. 

We will talk about the causes, what to do and when it is serious enough to bring your puppy or dog to the veterinarian.
Reason 1 - Many owners mistake reverse sneezing for hyperventilation. It is easy to confuse these 2 things, since both involve breathing noises and both issues can be quite startling. Reverse sneezing is an odd occurrence that is sometimes described as a type of unusual hiccup, although it involves a spasm of the soft palate and throat as opposed to the diaphragm.

When this happens the Pomeranian inhales through his or her nose quickly and repeatedly. With most, there is a sort of gagging or snorting noise that occurs. In many cases, the dog will extend his neck and the chest may expand out as well. So, as you can imagine, instead of having a sneezing episode of repeated exhalations, a Pom can have an episode of quick inhalations. 
black Pomeranian sitting in grass
Obsidian Boy, 1 year old
Photo courtesy of owner: Lynne Battista 
From studies that have been done so far, this is not harmful to canines, although it can cause temporary discomfort at the time that it is happening. It comes out of the blue, with dogs behaving and feeling completely normal before and after an occurrence. For many dogs, it will happen randomly throughout their lives.

It is theorized that it may be triggered by irritations to the nasal passages, such as in the case of allergies; however others have suggested that it can happen due to over-excitement.

While there official “cures” for this and it will stop as quickly as it began, there are some techniques that owners have tried with some success. 

A) The first is to gently cup your hand over your Pom’s mouth and nose area.  
This often can help because during an episode too much carbon dioxide is released from the dog’s body. With your hand gently cupped in front of the mouth and nose, it allows a dog inhale carbon dioxide, restoring it to a balanced level.

B) Another technique is to place a very small dab of peanut butter onto the dog’s nose. It will prompt the dog to stick his or her tongue out, which can relax the throat and help to restore breathing back to normal.

C) Gently massaging the throat area with soft downward strokes can sometimes help, as it also works to relax the area.

Reason 2 - Issues with the trachea can cause a Pomeranian to hyperventilate. In many cases it will be a case of a collapsed trachea. This describes what happens when the rings of cartilage that are formed around the windpipe are injured. Sometimes they are damaged…and sometimes they collapse inward.

Having rings that are weaker than normal is a genetic issue that can be passed on from dam or sire to pup and for that reason, any dog that is diagnosed with this should not be bred. For other dogs, causes vary… sometimes the trachea can be injured if a Pomeranian is walked with a collar and leash… if the dog jumps up or out, the collar puts all of that pressure on the neck area. To help prevent this, the use of a harness is highly recommended, as it distributes pressure across the back, chest and shoulders.

X-rays can often (but not always) determine if this medical condition exists… treatment consists of medications ranging from cough suppressants to, corticosteroids medicine to control swelling and if needed, a diet to address any issues of excess weight. In very rare yet serious cases, surgery can be done.
Reason 3 Less common is polyps. With this condition, abnormal growths in the throat or windpipe interferes with normal breathing. While this can cause a Pomeranian to hyperventilate, more commonly a dog will make snoring type noises when breathing. 

Reason 4 This next possible reason is actually quite common among canines, but for many dogs it goes undiagnosed because there are no symptoms.
For this reason, many owners have never even heard of nasal mites. However for some dogs that have this, it causes problems.

An infestation of mites in the nasal cavities can cause a dog to shake his head repeatedly, have coughing fits AND have reverse sneezing, which as discussed above can be easily confused with hyperventilation. This is diagnosed with a nasal swab (quick and painless) and treated with prescription medication.

Helpful Tip:

Many owners become frustrated because their Pomeranian appears to hyperventilate when at home, but feels and acts just fine at the veterinarians. If this is happening, it is recommended to take a video of your Pom during an episode. 

While the vet should perform medical tests to rule out the possible health issues discussed above, being able to see exactly what happens to your Pom can be very helpful.
Pomeranian with big dark eyes
Boo Bear, 1.5 years old
Photo courtesy of owner: Valerie Orlando 
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