What Makes a Dog Pant When He Is Not Hot or Thirsty?

By Lori Corrigan

Dogs communicate primarily through nonverbal cues that can sometimes elude human perception. Since they cannot always tell us in a direct way when they're distressed, we have to learn how to read their very telling body signals. Panting when not hot or thirsty can indicate a number of health concerns that may require further evaluation by your vet.


Your dog might not be overheated from physical exertion, but he may be running a fever due to an underlying issue. Elevated body temperature can be indicative of the immune system fighting infection. A dog's temp typically runs normal at 102.5°F, according to the Natural Dog Health Remedies website, so you should consult your vet for anything above that reading.


Heavy dogs can struggle to breathe more than their fit canine counterparts. Extra body weight may compress the lungs so it takes more effort for your dog to move the air. Panting is the body's way of increasing airflow by causing the dog to breathe heavily to get oxygen, according to the Natural Dog Health Remedies website. Reduce your dog's struggle by consulting with your vet about a weight-loss program.


Panting with no apparent reason can signal the presence of various disorders. According to Dr. Bari Spielman of the Pet Place website, respiratory, cardiovascular, blood and neurological issues are typically associated with heavy breathing as the body responds to being compromised. Potential causes can include:

  • Nasal blockages, growths or collapsing trachea.
  • Fluid/masses in the lungs or chest, lung disease or diaphragmatic hernias.
  • Heartworm, blood clot or heart failure.
  • Anemia or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Head trauma or brain tumor.
  • Drug poisoning, high altitude or pregnancy.

Anxiety, Fear or Excitement

If you've ever seen how some dogs react during thunderstorms or fireworks, then you understand why dogs pant when they're fearful or anxious. By the same token, your dog's enthusiastic greeting when you come home is a happy experience that increases his respiration. WebMD suggests keeping a calm demeanor when your dog seeks you out for comfort so as not to increase his anxiety. He may also want the safety of a dark closet or beneath a bed the same way children head under the covers when they're scared.