Why does your dog pant? It isn't always to cool off even though that's the number one reason on our list. It's the most obvious reason why dogs pant as this is their primary means for getting rid of excess body heat.
With that in mind, if dogs pant to cool off in the summer then this may be considered 'normal panting' vs. abnormal panting. My older dog Shermie pants all year round and I can tell when his panting seems abnormal.
While the number one reason may be obvious, the rest of the list should be on every pet parent's radar.
1. To cool off
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The Pet Health Network says panting allows evaporation of water and heat across the moist surfaces of the lungs, tongue, and surfaces within the mouth.
"So it makes physiologic sense for a dog to pant on a hot day or following exercise. Dogs do have sweat glands on the undersides of their paws and within their ears, but these glands really have only minimal cooling capabilities."
Remember 'normal' panting will not happen if your dog is at risk of heatstroke so make sure you've read our article about what the signs are and when you should be concerned.
2. Anxiety or stress
Typical signs of stress include panting. Canine depression, separation anxiety, and general stress can all cause your dog to pant.
Our dog Shermie pants during scary situations that may involve fireworks or loud noises outside. So the environment can cause him to pant. Under some circumstances, even car rides may cause a dog to pant. Shermie gets a little nervous.
Our older dog has needed steroids (prednisone) for hot spots and itching and a common side effect of steroids is panting. Always talk to your vet about all the side effects of drugs as this one may go unnoticed and then all of a sudden your dog or panting a lot and it seems like it's for no good reason. Don't dismiss this side effect. If you think your dog is panting excessively then you should follow up with your vet.
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Injuries may cause panting! Another example is if your dog inures their paw while on a walk or gets stung by a bee. You'll notice they may start panting heavily and whimper so make sure to let your vet know that after the injury occurred your dog started panting more than normal.
5. Heart failure
This is a common cause of a dog panting. Typically when a dog is in heart failure they are on a number of heart medications that may cause heavy panting.
If the heart doesn't pump right, the body doesn't get enough oxygen, causing pets to pant. Other signs include lethargy and exercise intolerance.
Even something like a thunderstorm may cause this and you should always watch out for breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and other brachycephalic breeds that have breathing difficulties on a good day. Don't hesitate to take your Pug to the vet as heavy panting for them may be a medical emergency.
Many diseases other than heart disease like Cushing's disease will also cause excessive panting.
On the flip side, an allergic reaction may cause panting so it's important to always monitor your dog's breathing as this is just a list of 5 common causes!
Have you ever been worried about your dog when he's panting? Please leave us comments and let us know if this post was helpful!