dog panting in grass

Why Do Dogs Pant? The Answer Isn't as Simple as It Seems


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When the weather gets hot, it's very common to see dogs pant. Dogs pant primarily to cool off, but what about if it's not hot outside? If you catch your dog panting when he's resting in the air conditioned house, hours after play, there might be a problem.

Keep in mind that all dogs are different, and an abnormal amount of panting for one dog might be normal for another. As always, it's important to keep an eye on your furry friend and learn their behavior patterns so that you can tell what's normal for them or not. If you notice excessive panting in your dog, a vet checkup is never a bad idea. While the first reason is the most common one, here are a few other reasons your pup might be panting.

1. To Cool Off

dog panting in front of fan

Panting allows evaporation of water and heat across the moist surfaces of the lungs, tongue, and surfaces within the mouth. It makes sense for any healthy dog to pant when it's hot outside or after exercise. While humans use sweat glands to cool off, dogs have fewer of these and they're not made to be your pup's primary cooling system.

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Unfortunately, this cooling system can be thrown out of whack if your dog gets excessively hot. Normal panting won't happen when your dog is at risk of heatstroke. Make sure you know the signs and symptoms of this dangerous summer problem.

2. Anxiety or Stress

Stressed pooches will pant, and pups with anxiety are no different. Canine depression, separation anxiety, and general stress can all cause your dog to pant.

Pups dealing with scary situations like fireworks or loud noises will turn to this as a coping mechanism. Some dogs who are uncomfortable in cars will pant as well. Talk with your vet if your pooch is always anxious, as there are ways to make his life a little easier.

3. Steroids

dog panting outside of car

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If your pup is on Prednisone or other steroids for hot spots, itching, or other reasons, 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 until it's become a much bigger problem. Don't dismiss this side effect. If you think your dog is panting excessively then you should follow up with your vet.

4. Pain

Injuries and pain 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

dog panting from pain

Sadly, 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.

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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 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.

Allergic reactions and dog allergies may also cause panting so it's important to always monitor your dog's breathing as this is just a list of 5 common causes!

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Have you ever been worried about your dog when he's panting? Tell us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

This article was originally published December 19, 2019.

READ MORE: What Is a Henry's Pocket & Why Does My Dog Have One?

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