5 Common Pitbull Breathing Problems and Treatments

Pitbull Breathing problems are very common. Asthma, Genetic conditions, Acid Reflux, and Kennel Cough are some common culprits that cause a Pitbull to have difficulty breathing.

Pitbulls are companions who are full of energy. But beneath their energetic demeanor, they can silently suffer from breathing problems. In this article below, we will learn about some common breathing problems and the treatments for your beloved Pitbull dog.

Types and Signs of Pitbull Breathing Problems

Not all breathing issues are cause for concern. Pitbulls often exert too much energy doing their day-to-day activities or just running around. They can become exhausted and start to pant.

You should look for signs of heavy breathing without exercise or physical activity. These are some common pitbull breathing problems:

Difficulty Breathing

If there is an underlying problem with a pitbull’s breathing, it will have a hard time taking a deep breath.

The dog might even start coughing as they try to take in air. You’ll notice visible effort while breathing and heavy chest movements. This is also known as labored breathing.

The poor thing may have something stuck in the airway inside their mouth. They try to cough up the stuck object.

Rapid Breathing

Pitbulls rapidly breathe to try to catch some air after exercise or running. But if they have an elevated breathing rate while resting, this could mean a respiratory infection or lung disease.

Rapid breathing is often associated with asthma as we humans also have a hard time catching a breath during an attack. Anxiety and stress are other good reasons for pitbull breathing problems.

Panting & Noisy Breathing

Panting is not unusual for dogs trying to cool down. Excessive or noisy panting however is a sign of discomfort.

Pitbulls pant over the top in hot weather. But if the panting is accompanied by wheezing or snorting sounds it is clear they are having a hard time with breathing.

Causes and Treatments for Pitbull Breathing Problems

Pitbull breathing problems can quickly turn chronic if not treated. So, it’s worth investigating what is causing breathing difficulties for your big guy.

Underlying Causes and Treatment Options for Pitbull Breathing Problems:

1. Asthma & Allergic Reactions

Some pit bulls are hypersensitive to allergens in the environment. Pollen, spores, and dust bits can trigger allergic reactions in dogs not unlike humans.

Allergies can quickly escalate to asthma attacks causing breathing problems in Pitbulls. Some common signs of asthma attacks are coughing, redness or swelling around the eyes, and stuffy, runny nose.


If your companion is heavily allergic, you will have to identify and reduce their exposure to what causes these reactions. Hypoallergenic bedding is a good first step to ensure proper rest for the dogs.

You should also adjust their diet and avoid feeding them stuff that causes allergic reactions. Keep your indoor environment clean to reduce dust exposure.

If the case is severe you can refer to your vet for allergy shots or immunotherapy which builds up allergen tolerance over time. Vets may also suggest asthma inhalers.

2. Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is the equivalent of human heartburn for dogs, when stomach acid flows backward toward the throat.

Excessive burping or frequently throwing up small amounts of food they ate are common signs of acid reflux in dogs. The chunks often get stuck inside their throat which makes them gag and have trouble breathing.


A big reason for GERD is the overproduction of stomach acid. The best way to reduce acid reflux is a healthy diet with food they can easily digest. It will reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces.

For severe situations, you should use medication to alleviate the symptoms. Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) like omeprazole or pantoprazole are a good acid suppressant for otherwise healthy dogs.

For pit bulls with kidney or liver disease, veterinarians often prescribe famotidine, which is an H2R antagonist.

3. Genetic Conditions

Many dogs with smushed-up faces like pugs and English pitbulls suffer from a genetic deformation called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.

These dogs are more prone to septum deviation because of their unique skull formation. A deviated septum is when the wall that separates the nostrils is off-center.

This leaves the dogs gasping for breath as one of the nostrils is smaller restricting airflow.


There are not much in treatment options for genetic conditions. Medication only helps if the condition occurs because of inflammation.

Repositioning the septum through surgery is the only way to fix these structural abnormalities.

4. Kennel Cough (Tracheobronchitis)

Kennel Cough is a contagious respiratory infection that your dog may have caught from other dogs.

You can distinguish Kennel cough from seasonal cough from the loud, hacking noise and when they are dry heaving, trying to vomit but nothing comes out.

This is a very serious issue if not treated promptly. It can cause decreased appetite and lethargy in dogs. Read more about Pitbull not eating but drinking water.


Kennel cough alone does not cause too much problem. Simple rest, fluid, and time will cure it. It is the risk of secondary bacterial infection that you should be worried about.

Consider getting your pitbull vaccinated after a full recovery. Keep them isolated and let them rest in a comfy humid space. Ensure access to fresh water and keep them hydrated.

5. Nasal & Respiratory Issues

The curious nature of pit bulls often makes them poke their nose where they shouldn’t.Inhaling small objects, grass seeds or dust obstructs their nasal pathway.

This curiosity often leads to them pawing at stuff or places causing several other issues. Read more about pit bull paw problems.

A wet or runny nose is the best place for nasal mites to take hold. These parasites cause irritation and sneezing. As a result, it becomes hard for them to breathe normally.


They eventually sneeze it out. But if it gets stuck deeper you may need to get a vet appointment.

Vets prescribe anti-parasitic drugs to treat nasal mites. Anti-parasitic shampoos can help get rid of various kinds of mites.

Drugs like Ivermectin are used to treat nasal mite infections. Make sure to follow the dosage recommendations prescribed by a vet.

Obesity and the Role of Regular Exercise to Get Rid of Pitbull Breathing Problems

Pitbull Breathing Problem Treatment
Pitbull Breathing Problem Treatment

It is not just humans who struggle with weight. An overweight Pitbull develops different diseases. The extra weight puts pressure on their joints, heart, and most importantly lungs.

This added strain is a big reason for breathing problems and other respiratory or heart problems. The extra fat around the chest restricts lung expansion when they try to breathe.

A fit, muscular Pitbull not only looks good but also stays healthier in the course of its life.

Importance of Exercise

There is no alternative to exercise in keeping your companion in shape. Regular exercise is the solution to various health issues for a pit bull.

Here is why exercising is important for the pupper:

  1. With regular exercise you can effectively manage your Pitbull’s weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is the primary goal of exercising.
  2. Exercising strengthens the respiratory muscles and makes them more efficient.
  3. It also builds a strong heart that easily circulates oxygen.
  4. It increases a dog’s lung capacity and reduces the effort to inhale oxygen.
  5. Fit dogs are less prone to respiratory and nasal infections.
  6. Improves their digestion system, which is important in maintaining stomach acid levels.

Pitbull Breathing Problems – (FAQs)

What are the treatment options against Kennel Cough?

The antibiotic of choice for severe cases of Kennel Cough is Doxycycline. Raw honey is a natural remedy and cough syrup includes Dextromethorphan and Guaifenesin.

What should I do to help my Pitbull breathe?

Running a humidifier loosens the mucous in your dog’s lungs. It will help the big guy breathe easier.

Why is my dog breathing fast in his sleep?

It is normal for a dog to have an elevated breathing rate during sleep. This is more noticeable in puppies.