Dogs can come with a lot of quirks, but there’s nothing more natural than a dog’s panting during a warm day or after intensive exercises. But when your dog’s breathing is faster for no apparent reason, this could be a cause for concern. However, the cause of your dog’s panting can vary, so you may find yourself wondering, why do dogs pant so much?
Why Do Dogs Pant?
Panting refers to quick and shallow breathing that’s considered to be normal behavior for dogs. Pet parents will usually notice this after playing or running and during a hot day. There’s one main reason for a dog pant, which is to help its body cool down but another reason is to help oxygen to travel through their blood.
Why Do Dogs Pant on Hot Days?
Many pet owners will also notice that their dogs pant more during summer months even if they’re not playing or exercising. This is because panting is the primary way that dogs regulate their body temperature and it’s what they do to stay cool during high temperatures. While dogs pant, the evaporation of water from their saliva helps them stay cool due to their body heat transferring to the saliva.
When dogs pant, it also evaporates the moisture in their upper respiratory tract which helps them cool down internally. Furthermore, it helps to expel hot air and instead breathe in cooler air which helps to cool them down even more. All of these processes combined will provide your dog with an effective way to cool down but it won’t prevent a heat stroke so be sure to give your pup plenty of cool water during hot days.
Why Do Dogs Use Their Tongue to Pant?
A dog keeps an open mouth because its tongue is packed with blood vessels which offer another way for them to keep cool — blood can move to these blood vessels so heat can escape their body. Because their tongues are flat and long, there’s a lot more surface area for the blood to cool allowing more saliva to evaporate. When dogs are particularly hot, their tongues may even swell due to the increase in blood flow.
Why Does Exercising Make Dogs Pant?
Again, panting helps to cool down our dogs — when they exercise, their muscles move and generate heat, making their bodies much warmer after doing activities, and will need a way to release this heat. Another reason for a dog’s excessive panting after exercise is to ensure they have enough oxygen inside their body. Panting allows dogs to quickly eliminate carbon dioxide and replace it with oxygen, which in turn helps to spread oxygen in their blood.
Humans also pant for the same reason, so if you notice your pooch panting after a run, give it a few minutes to let it rest; allowing it to breathe will prevent overheating. Once your dog can breathe properly again, you can continue with your walk.
Why Does My Dog Pant in the Car?
Among the most common reasons behind this is because they’re either anxious or hot. A hot car will be poorly ventilated and enclosed, making its internal temperature much hotter than it is outside. While you may not feel this, you need to remember that humans are much better with temperature regulation compared to dogs.
Moreover, your pooch comes with a fur coat that won’t allow it to absorb as much of the cool air from the AC. That said, your dog will benefit from leaving the AC on or leaving a crack in the windows. It will also help to provide them with cold water whenever you make a stop in your travels.
If it’s not due to the heat, your dog may be over-excited or anxious; dogs will pant when they feel excited, separation anxiety, or if there’s something that would cause them to feel such emotions. Even a simple car ride can result in these feelings because they may associate it with scary destinations such as the vet. To help them stop panting in these cases, take them out of the stressful situation.
Signs of stress in dogs include:
Will My Dog Pant When it’s Hurt?
If you notice that your pup is panting and it’s not active or hot, then it’s possible that it may be panting due to pain. Panting may indicate that your dog is hurt or that it has an underlying health condition. When there are no obvious reasons why your dog is panting, taking them to your emergency vet is a good idea.
You should also check for the following symptoms in your dog to confirm that it’s in pain:
- Low posture
- Flattened ears
- Excessive licking
- Lameness or limping
Will My Dog Pant if it’s Happy?
While panting can be a sign of stress, it can also mean that your pup is energetic or happy. Unfortunately, panting can represent a wide range of emotions for dogs, so being able to read and assess your dog’s body language is imperative when you want to help your pup. For example, if you’re out on a long walk while your dog is panting, it’s probably trying to keep cool but if it’s panting while a storm is brewing, then it may be anxious.
Other Reasons Why Your Dog is Panting
There may be an underlying cause behind your dog’s panting. Here are just a few reasons why your dog might be panting.
Also known as Cushing’s disease, this condition is known to cause the production of too much cortisol in dogs. While all dogs are vulnerable to this disease, it’s more commonly found in middle-aged and older dogs. Certain breeds are also at a higher risk, such as Boston Terriers, German Shepherds, Beagles, Dachshunds, and Poodles.
Apart from panting, it’s also important to look out for symptoms such as:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Hair loss
- Loss of muscle mass
- Thinning skin
- Skin pigmentation
Dogs that get too hot may suffer from heatstroke, a condition that can potentially be life-threatening. Brachycephalic dog breeds (short-nosed breeds) such as French Bulldogs and pugs will be more at risk of this problem due to their short snouts which may lead to breathing difficulties. Signs of heatstroke or heat exhaustion may include the following:
- Heavy panting
- Increased heart rate
Suffering from heat stroke is a medical emergency so be sure to take your pup to the vet right away.
When your dog’s heart isn’t 100% working, it won’t be able to provide enough oxygen to your pup’s organs which may lead to abnormal breathing and panting. Other symptoms of heart disease to look for include:
- Easily tired
- Swollen belly
- Weight loss
If you suspect that your dog has heart problems, make sure to contact your vet as soon as possible.
If your dog has a respiratory disease such as lung tumors, lung disease, or laryngeal paralysis, difficulty breathing may cause it to pant. When one or both flaps in your dog’s windpipe won’t open, it may lead to laryngeal paralysis which can prevent air from coming in and out. If this is the cause of your dog’s panting, it will make a raspy and loud sound.
Bigger dogs as well as senior dogs are more susceptible and have a higher risk of developing laryngeal paralysis. Another issue of the respiratory system that may prevent oxygen from entering the bloodstream is lung disease, which can also lead to breathing difficulties. Allergies and pneumonia may also cause dogs to pant.
Why Do Dogs Pant So Much?
Most dogs won’t pant for too long. Their breathing should go back to normal after a few minutes but if it pants for more than 10 minutes, then it may be a warning sign of overheating or other medical issues. Abnormal panting may be a sign of other medical conditions, which include the following:
- More panting than usual
- Panting for no reason
- Non-stop panting
- Loud noises while they pant
- Panting takes a lot of effort
What to Do if Your Dog is Panting Heavily
If you notice that your dog is panting heavily, they’re most likely feeling hot, so be sure to look for signs of overheating and give it fresh water to help it cool down. Another thing you can do is get a wet towel and place it on top of your dog. Make sure to take your dog to your vet if you think it’s suffering from a heatstroke, and should be given proper care immediately.
If your pooch is panting louder or more frequently than normal, it may indicate breathing problems such as tracheal collapse or laryngeal paralysis. In this case, take a video of your dog’s panting to capture the sound it makes and show it to your vet. This will help your vet determine the right cause for your dog’s panting and come up with the right course of treatment.
When dogs pant abnormally, it could be due to an illness or a condition. Your pup might have a problem with its heart or lungs that makes it hard to get the oxygen its body needs, which leads to panting. Other reasons behind persistent panting include hormone disorders such as Cushing’s Disease, but if you see other symptoms in your pup, be sure to head to your vet right away. Taking them to your vet is essential since only they can give you a precise answer about what’s causing your dog to pant so much.