Although you may love puppy breath, you may be wondering why your puppy is panting up a storm. Fortunately, this is most likely just your active puppy's biological cooling system hard at work. On the rare occasion, however, excessive panting may be cause for alarm. Read on to find out more.
Puppies tend to have sudden bursts of energy where they engage in boisterous play and then they suddenly flop down and fall asleep. Since your puppy moves a lot, his heart beats faster and his respiratory rate is faster. Open-mouth panting in this case is a normal reaction that allows the pup to get more oxygen into his bloodstream. Pups with smashed-in faces such as pugs and bulldogs also tend to visibly pant more because of their shorter snouts.
Your puppy doesn't have to necessarily be tired to pant a lot. Puppies may also pant when they're excited, and with so much going on in a puppy's life, you can't blame them. If you're socializing your puppy and taking him to puppy classes, he's surely exposed to a whole lot of exciting sights and sounds as he discovers the world. Keep an eye on that tongue lolling and accompanying body language though; some pups may also pant when they're getting stressed or scared.
Whether your rambunctious puppy is panting because of exercise, excitement, stress, fear or simply because he's hot, panting will help him cool down. While dogs have a limited ability to sweat from their paw pads, unlike humans, they can't simply break into a sweat for the purpose of cooling down. Panting is ultimately what allows puppies to circulate air through their bodies so they can fulfill the oxygen needs of their bodies and help regulate their internal temperature.
Getting familiar with your puppy's normal breathing and panting is a good idea, just avoid comparing your puppy's breathing with that of your adult dog; small dogs and puppies tend to breathe faster than larger, adult dogs. Also, consider that panting is different than increased respiration. If you want to get an accurate respiratory count, you shouldn't evaluate your dog when he's panting explains Penn Veterinary Medicine. With this in mind, consider that the normal respiratory rate in puppies is 15 to 40 breaths per minute and up to 200 pants per minute, according to Animal Emergency Center.
Keep a watchful eye on your puppy's panting. Generally, as long as your pup appears to be breathing comfortably and his tongue is pink, panting is OK. Signs of trouble accompanying abnormal panting often include coughing, wheezing, a tongue that is a color other than pink and excessively using the belly muscles to breathe. Also, keep an eye on how long it takes for your pup to stop panting and recover once the cause for panting is gone.
If your puppy is panting more than usual, and you cannot find a reasonable explanation for it, it's a good idea to seek veterinary attention. For instance, puppies may pant more when injured or in pain, when they are running a fever or when they have some sort of respiratory problems. Many other health problems may also manifest with panting as a symptom.
By Adrienne Farricelli
Dog Health Handbook: Panting Puppy
Health for Dogs: Why is my Dog Panting?
Penn Veterinary Medicine: Normal Vital Signs and How To Obtain Them
Animal Emergency Center: Vital Signs [PDF]
Web MD: Why Is My Dog Panting Heavily?
Pet MD: Why Do Dogs Pant?
Boon Docs Medicine: How to Check Your Dog's Vital Signs
Animal House Inc: Emergency Checklist
About the Author
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.