Panting - Dogs>
Is It Healthy for Dogs to Pant?
Panting is a very normal thing for dogs to do, most of the time. Since dogs don’t sweat to cool down the way humans do, panting helps them regulate body temperature by circulating air throughout the body. It’s actually a fairly effortless process due to dogs’ naturally elastic lungs and airways. Normal panting happens when your dog is warm or excited, especially after play or exercise.
In some situations, panting can be a sign of a health problem in your dog. Signs of abnormal panting include:
- Panting for no apparent reason
- Panting is louder, harsher, or includes unfamiliar sounds (wheezing, coughing)
- Panting is strenuous, heavy, or excessive
You know your dog’s behavior better than anyone, so be alert for any unusual changes in panting or other behaviors. Learn about the warning signs of abnormal panting and when it’s time for a visit to the professionals at Animal Wellness Center.
Causes of Abnormal Panting in Dogs
Excessive panting or heavy breathing can indicate a wide variety of conditions ranging from poisoning to paralysis of the laryngeal cartilages (the flaps opening and closing the windpipe). A veterinarian at Animal Wellness Center will observe your dog’s panting and determine the cause. The sooner the problem is identified, the more likely treatment will lead to a happy ending!
Obesity - If your dog is overweight, excessive panting could be how they handle heat regulation. Obese dogs overheat more easily and have to exert more effort to cool down during activity. Just like in humans, obesity in dogs can lead to joint disease and disorders of the heart, pancreas, and liver. If your dog is overweight, a vet at Animal Wellness Center will help you with weight management solutions for the health and longevity of your pet!
Pain, Phobias, & Anxiety - Abnormal panting may be a sign your dog has a physical or emotional problem needing attention. Since your dog can’t use words, it’s important to learn to interpret your dog’s behavior in order to recognize symptoms of distress. Heavy panting may indicate your dog has been injured or is in discomfort. Other signs of pain may include reduced appetite, restlessness, gnawing or licking an injured area, and dilated pupils. Call your vet at Animal Wellness Center right away if you suspect your dog is in pain.
Some dogs are scared of storms, hate to travel, or are bothered by strangers in their home. Anxious or fearful dogs often exhibit what is called “behavioral panting”. It may occur along with other signs of stress such as shaking, loss of bladder control, whining, and hiding. These are all normal reactions to frightening or unfamiliar events, but long-lasting or chronic episodes can take a physical and emotional toll on your dog’s health.
Heatstroke - Overheating is a common and very dangerous cause of heavy panting. Heatstroke can be life-threatening in dogs, with other symptoms including: racing heart, elevated temperature, vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, excessive drool, glazed-over eyes, and weakness.
If you believe your dog has heat stroke, you should immediately:
- Move your dog to a cooler environment out of the sun
- Spray your dog with cool (not cold) water or use cold towels on the head, neck, and chest
- Provide cool water or ice cubes to lick
- Bring your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you’ve begun to cool him down
NOTE: Never leave your dog or any pet in a parked car, and always provide your dog with plenty of access to shade and fresh water during hot times of the day. Overweight and long-haired dogs tend to overheat more easily, so take this into consideration whenever your dog is outside or in a hot environment.
Fever - When a dog’s body temperature rises above 102.5 degrees, they may begin panting to try and cool down. Fever can be a sign of infection and many other health problems. Any fever of 104 degrees or higher is extremely dangerous. Not sure how to take your dog’s temperature? Ask a veterinarian at Animal Wellness Center for advice during a Meet & Greet or at your dog’s next checkup.
Chronic Illness - Cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, and hormonal imbalances such as Cushing’s disease can all cause abnormal panting in dogs. Anemia, a low volume of red blood cells, results in panting because the dog is not getting enough oxygen. When no other explanation for heavy panting is found, you should consider abnormal or excessive panting to be a possible early warning sign of a serious condition. Make an appointment to bring your dog to a vet at Animal Wellness Center as soon as possible.
Safeguard the Health of Your Dog with Animal Wellness Center
Recognizing the difference between normal panting and abnormal panting will help you identify possible health problems in your dog, allowing you to take early action to keep your pet healthy. In addition to diagnosing and treating medical issues, Animal Wellness Center veterinarians will recommend strategies for helping your dog manage anxiety or get to a healthy weight.