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Ask the Veterinarian/rapid breathing


We brought home a dog from the shelter to foster for the weekend, it is a shepherd/collie mix. It has had rapid breathing since it's been here (about 10 hours). He's eaten, drinking water, but has kept the same pace of breathing like this. We checked his gums, and they are purple, pressed on them, but didn't really see much white. His tongue is dark pink, and his mouth is very watery, not slobber, but liquid. I was worried when I watched him sleeping, his tummy going up and down so fast. Could this be serious, or just nerves?

Hi Robin,

I have heard of dogs that were really stressed out acting this way but a dark pink tongue and purple gums would worry me that this dog is having some issues getting enough oxygen into his bloodstream.

If he isn't breathing more normally by morning (I'm in California and it's 11 pm)I'd get him to a vets. His gums should be pink, and when you press on them, should blanch white for a count to 2 or 3 then turn pink again. Like eraser pink.

His tongue should be the same color. I'm not a vet, so I really can't tell you if what's going on is serious or just stress.

If he is eating, drinking and generally happy, then it could be just stress and nerves. They usually get diarrhea from this too.

Is this dog heartworm free? Has he been tested and on medication monthly? That would be my other concern, along with heart issues.

So if you plan on keeping him and he isn't better in 24 hours, get him to a vet asap.

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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