Why is my dog panting so much? If you’re asking yourself this question, know that there are many potential reasons. All dogs pant, occasionally. But when they don’t stop after an extended amount of time, you’ll want to see your veterinarian about the situation.
Here are a few of the potential reasons for excessive panting. But it’s important to note that these are potential reasons for dog panting behavior. You’ll need to take your dog to the vet to find out exactly what’s going on.
What Is Normal Panting, And What Is Considered Excessive Panting?
Dogs primarily pant in order to cool down their bodies. It’s interesting how this normal cooling process works. When a dog pants, this helps water and heat evaporate from not only their tongue and other areas of the mouth, but their lungs as well. They will typically do this on hot days, or after exercise. Dogs actually do sweat through their paws (and they even have sweat glands inside their ears), but this doesn’t do a lot to cool them down.1
So, how can you tell when dog panting behavior is normal, and when you need to be concerned? Basically, if there’s really no reason for the dog to be overheated — and they’re panting heavily — that’s a sign of abnormal panting. Signs typically include the following:
- Your dog seems to be breathing harder than normal, or panting excessively.
- The panting happens when your dog doesn’t seem to be hot.
- Your pet’s panting is louder than normal, or seems raspy.
- Panting is more forced than it typically is.2
Why Dogs Pant Heavily: Common Causes
In most cases, your dog’s panting is normal. You might have just come in from playing with your pet, or you took them on a nice long walk. They’ll do this for a while, and then they’ll stop once they’ve cooled down. But heavy panting that continues is a type of behavior that could be a cause for concern.
These are just a few of the potential reasons why your dog might be panting more heavily than normal. Again, these are only potential reasons. If the panting continues long after you think it should have stopped, take your dog to the vet for a complete examination to find out what’s going on.
If your pup is still panting long after exercising, that could mean their body temperature is at a dangerously high level. This means that your dog is so hot, panting isn’t helping them sufficiently cool down. This could mean they are at a risk of heatstroke, so get to your veterinarian immediately.3
They’re Really Excited
Excessive panting could, on the other hand, just mean they’re really excited. You might have just returned home after a particularly long day (they missed you), or you’re having guests over to your home. Your dog might be panting a lot simply because they’re anticipating a treat. Excited panting is usually shallow and rapid, and you might hear a little whining as well. This shouldn’t be a big cause for concern.4
They’re Stressed Out
A dog can, of course, get stressed just like a human can. Dogs usually manifest stress by panting and whining. If they’re doing this, and their eyes are wider than normal, that could mean they’re stressed out about something. They may also look away from you and yawn a lot. Try to give them lots of love and reassurance to make them feel more comfortable.5
There are some times when panting is an indication that your dog is in some kind of discomfort. It could be due to a health condition, such as a fever or a paw injury. A fever can also lead to heavier breathing than normal. Other symptoms of a potential issue include coughing, lethargy, or peeing or drinking more water than they usually do.6
You might be giving your dog a new prescribed medication that will result in heavier than normal panting. Some dogs, for instance, will pant more than usual because they’re taking some sort of steroid for a condition such as a skin allergy, or some kind of immune system problem. Talk to your vet if your pet is exhibiting this side effect.7
What Are Some Other Potential Reasons Your Dog Is Panting Too Much?
While those are a lot of possible causes for excessive panting, they really only scratch the surface – there are quite a few more.
A Respiratory Illness
Any kind of respiratory illness can result in heavy panting. When this happens, part of the problem is that the heart is having a really hard time getting blood to the rest of the body. If you suspect your dog might be ill, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.8
This is a condition caused by a reduction in red blood cells. These cells are vital because they help make sure the body gets the oxygen it needs to be as healthy as possible. Dogs will sometimes pant in order to make up for that lack of oxygen.9
An overweight dog pants for much the same reason that an overweight human breathes heavily. Their body has a harder time circulating oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. If this is the case, your vet can recommend a sensible plan of exercise and diet.10
What Can I Do, And When Do I Need To See The Vet?
If you believe that your dog is panting too much, don’t panic. First, think about whether or not it’s a hot day, or whether they have any reason to be anxious. If it’s hot, wait to let your dog cool down. If they seem to be stressed, give them a lot of attention and love, and see if that helps.11
If heat seems to be the problem, offer them some cool water to drink and room to stretch out so they can cool down. Never exercise your dog during the heat of the day, and never – ever – leave them in a car when it’s hot (not even for a few minutes).
If you’re concerned about excessive, abnormal panting, it’s time to get your pup checked out at the vet. Your vet will perform a thorough examination to find out what’s going on and what can be done.
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