Dogs pant often, or at least it seems that way. Panting in dogs is generally considered healthy, especially after a long walk, play sessions, or any physical activity. However, excessive panting is different and it causes owners to wonder, why is my dog panting so much? Unfortunately, there are less common cases where underlying issues may be the culprit. To find out if your dog is panting in a healthy or unhealthy manner, we’ve outlined all you need to know below.
Why Do Dogs Pant?
When a dog pants, they are usually trying to lower their body temperature because they are too hot. However, there are a few other reasons why your dog may be breathing heavy. It’s always important to assess your dog’s situation carefully.
Since dogs can’t tell us what’s wrong, dog owners have to pay attention to a dog’s body language. So, let’s go over some of the most common reasons a dog pants.
Dogs Need to Cooldown Somehow
Unlike humans, when dogs get hot, they can’t sweat through their skin because their fur is too thick. Dogs can sweat through their paw pads, but it does not sufficiently cool them down like panting does.
When dogs pant, they are quickly releasing the hot air from their lungs and replacing it with cold external air. This speeds up any evaporation of water in their mouth, upper respiratory tract, and tongue. When the water evaporates it regulates a dog’s body temperature and successfully cools them down. According to the AKC, the normal temperature of a dog “is between 99.5 and 102.5F degrees”.
Anxiety or Stress
If a dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they may display it through panting. This type of panting is referred to as behavioral panting by vets. A few ways you can notice this panting is:
- Licking of the lips
- Yawning repetitively
This type of panting appears more in dogs who are scared of loud noises, like fireworks. Dogs who are on dreaded car rides and visit the vet may also pant in this way.
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome
Brachycephalic dog breeds are dogs with flat faces and short noses. Dog breeds such as French Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs are prone to pant more often due to brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome.
Their narrowed upper respiratory tract causes these dog breeds to have difficulty breathing. Because of their anatomy, they also don’t pant as effectively as other dog breeds. Their flat faces make them more at risk of overheating or heat stroke since they can’t quickly cool themselves down.
What is Abnormal or Excessive Panting in Dogs?
Remember, this is common in all dogs. Dog owners will notice their dog panting in efforts to cool down after physical activity or when they are in hot climates. However, excessive panting in dogs is not normal, and you should not take it lightly.
If your dog is panting a lot, and you can feel they are not warm and don’t need to cool down, it could mean there’s a more severe issue at hand. Abnormal or excessive panting can happen at random times, even when a dog is resting and not active.
If they are panting harsher or louder than usual or if they seem to require more effort to stay up, you should take them to a veterinarian immediately.
Why is my Dog Panting Excessively?
It’s normal for a dog to pant when they get excited, have a lot of energy, or are hot. However, loud, heavy panting is a bit different. It could indicate that your dog has a chronic underlying health issue, is dangerously overheated, or has experienced something traumatic and life-threatening. Some of the more common reasons dogs pant excessively include:
Dogs are known to be good at hiding pain. At times, they do it so well that owners don’t realize they’re in pain until the problem worsens. If your dog is panting because they are in pain, then they will most likely pant at strange times, like at night, while resting.
A dog that is overweight might struggle to breathe in fresh air and get oxygenated blood into their system. If you believe your dog’s panting might be due to a weight issue, you should get them checked out by a vet. Obesity in dogs can lead to more serious issues like heart failure, arthritis, and it can also decrease their lifespan.
Bloat in dogs forms when gas builds up in the body and is unable to release. This can become painful and potentially life-threatening if it is left alone. Bloat can cause abnormal pressure to body parts including the lungs which will make a dog breathe heavier than normal.
Related article: Dog Bloated Stomach Home Remedies [Tips & Prevention Guide]
We already know dogs pant as a way to cool down. In warmer months, like during the summer, dogs are more susceptible to get heatstroke.
If your canine has heatstroke, they will have a heavier pant than usual. They might also seem to have trouble breathing. If you notice your dog is acting in this way, you should try and cool them down. Remove them from any sunny areas and give them water immediately.
Symptoms of heatstroke include high body temperatures, extreme thirst, glossy eyes, rapid heartbeat, and a dark or bright tongue and gums.
Sometimes when dogs start new medications, they experience allergic reactions like hives or even anaphylactic shock. Dogs can also be allergic to certain ingredients in their food, insect bites, airborne allergies and more. If a dog has an allergic reaction to something, they may begin panting in efforts to breathe. They may also become sluggish or lethargic and vomit. Before starting your dog on any medication, it’s best to ask your vet for a second opinion.
Heart problems might be the culprit of excessive or abnormal panting. Issues with the heart may cause dogs to pant often since they struggle to catch their breath, even when they exert little energy. Dogs might also cough and show signs of weakness.
Cushing’s disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, is a condition in dogs that causes their body to produce an excess of the cortisol steroid hormone. This is more common in middle-aged and senior dogs.
Symptoms of Cushing’s disease include weight gain, thirst, thinning of hair and skin, a potbelly, and you guessed it, panting.
This one might seem like a no brainer. Abnormal breathing can be due to respiratory issues like pneumonia. This infection causes inflammation in the lungs. Other symptoms of respiratory problems in dogs include trouble breathing, fever, coughing, and lethargy.
When to See a Vet if Your Dog is Panting too Much?
On average, dogs take around fifteen to thirty breaths a minute, depending on their age and size. You should get to know your dog’s breathing patterns and normal panting to better notice anything out of the ordinary.
If you believe your dog’s panting is unusual and could mean something more critical, you should see the help of a veterinarian as soon as possible. Things like heatstroke in dogs can be fatal, while other conditions can worsen and lead to more serious issues.
It’s normal for dogs to pant. It’s the best way for them to cool down. Dogs will breathe heavily in the heat, after playing too long, or if they get excited. Some dogs are more hyper than others so they will often breathe heavy. However, normal panting should not be consistently excessive or at random times.
Heavy breathing could be a sign that your dog is coping with something more serious, and at times fatal. Proper care and attention can help prevent many of the reasons why dogs pant abnormally.
Ensuring your dog isn’t exposed to heat for long periods can avoid heatstroke. Giving your dog nutritionally balanced food can prevent health problems like heart disease and obesity. If you have a brachycephalic dog breed, you shouldn’t overexert them as they already have difficulty breathing.
Being aware of your dog breed and its needs, and learning their normal behaviors is the best way to be proactive. When in doubt, ask your vet, because they do know best.
Read the original article here
Written by Joe Farber at www.holistapet.com