Have you ever asked yourself, "Why is my dog panting so much?" A lot of dog parents wonder if they need to be concerned when their pups begin panting a lot, and it's wise to confirm that your dog is fine. How can you tell the difference between normal panting and abnormal panting? Learn some of the common causes for heavy panting and what you can do to help your canine companion.
When should I worry about my dog's excessive panting?
If a dog pants when they shouldn't or they pant for an extended period of time, it's considered abnormal. It's important to be aware that heavy breathing and an increase in respiratory rate can be symptoms of various health problems that require veterinary care.
Video of the Day
Why is my dog panting a lot?
There are many reasons a dog would pant more than usual. Panting is a normal behavior for healthy dogs. Panting helps keep your pet cool. Panting also happens when they're excited, happy, stressed, or scared. Usually, it isn't a cause for concern. For example, after playing outside, your dog may start panting, but after drinking water and relaxing, the panting should stop after a few minutes.
On the other hand, excessive panting is something to watch out for and take seriously. It could be a sign of overheating, overexercise, or a health condition. If heavy panting is accompanied by other symptoms, it's best to have your dog checked by a veterinarian to find the underlying cause. Here are some common reasons, including health issues, for why you may see your dog panting a lot.
A dog panting from heart problems
A heart problem might be to blame if your dog is having trouble breathing. For example, a symptom of congestive heart failure is excessive panting, but your dog may also exhibit other symptoms, such as less energy and a reduced appetite.
If you notice that your dog is breathing heavier or faster than normal, if they're coughing, and if they're having trouble getting comfortable, it's imperative that you consult a veterinarian to determine if there's a heart condition that needs to be treated.
A dog panting from Cushing’s disease
Excessive panting is one of several symptoms of Cushing's disease, which usually affects older dogs and is characterized by an overproduction of cortisol from the adrenal glands. Other symptoms include hair loss; a pot-bellied appearance; and an increase in urination, appetite, and thirst.
If your dog is panting more than what's considered normal and they're exhibiting other symptoms, talk to your veterinarian in case your pet needs to be treated for Cushing's disease.
A dog panting from heatstroke
Although dogs sweat, it doesn't do enough to keep them cool. Panting is the other way that they regulate their body temperature. So, if your dog is panting a lot, it may be because they're overheated, especially on hot days. Help your dog cool off by bringing them into a cooler, shaded area and giving them water.
However, in the case of heatstroke, when the body temperature is above 106 degrees Fahrenheit, contact your veterinarian immediately because it's a life-threatening emergency. If your dog's temperature continues to climb, there's a risk of organ failure and death. In addition to panting heavily, symptoms include changes in gum color, rapid heart rate and breathing, drooling, and disorientation.
A dog panting from anxiety and stress
If your pet starts panting but you can't figure out why, ask yourself if they're experiencing a stressful situation, such as hearing a thunderstorm or being in a new place. A dog's body language and vocalizations, such as whining, can also indicate that they're uneasy.
Try to find the cause of the stress so you can help your pooch feel safe and calm again. Consider solutions like anxiety vests for dogs or ask your veterinarian about medications and supplements that could help, especially if other strategies haven't been effective. Keep in mind that dogs can suffer from separation anxiety too.
A dog panting from brachycephalic airway
Some dogs naturally pant more because of the breed they are. brachycephalic dog breeds are those with a "pushed-in" facial or snout appearance, like pugs or bulldogs, boxers. Other potentially affected dogs are Boston terriers, Pekingese, Shar-Peis, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, bull mastiffs, and dogs that are cross-breeds of those dogs. In Latin, "brachy" means shortened and "cephalic" means head. Because of the shorter bones of the face and nose, some brachycephalic breeds can struggle to breathe more after exertion or in hot or humid weather. Talk to your vet about specific pet health needs that your dog with shortened airways might have.
What to do for a dog panting heavily
Have your dog examined by a veterinarian if they're panting heavily and you can't find the reason for it, if you've noticed changes in your dog's breathing, or if they're panting and exhibiting other symptoms or unusual behavior.
A veterinarian can perform a physical exam, take X-rays, and use diagnostic tests to determine why your dog is panting more than they should. Be sure to discuss all of your pet's symptoms, including when the heavy panting occurs, so your veterinarian will have all of the information they need.
Dogs pant for multiple reasons. Most of the time, it's nothing to worry about, such as after your canine has been active. However, there are instances in which dogs pant because they aren't well. Keep an eye on your dog's behavior so you'll be able to more easily recognize when they're panting abnormally. Look for other symptoms too because excessive panting can be a sign of a problem as serious as heart disease. Whether it's obvious that something is wrong or you just aren't sure, contact your DVM (veterinarian) to get a proper diagnosis and any necessary treatments for your pet.