We’ve all seen dogs pant often, but have you ever wondered why? There are a number of different reasons your dog might be panting. Here are a few reasons you need to think about:
1. Dogs normally pant to prevent overheating and stay cool
If you’ve seen your dog panting in summer, you know that it’s mainly because he or she is trying to cool down.
Panting in dogs is more than just heavy breathing, it’s a complex and efficient system of releasing excess heat and lowering their body temperature. Humans do this by sweating, however, dogs only have sweat glands on their paw pads, which is not enough surface area to keep their bodies cool.
To compensate for this, dogs expel heat through their saliva and panting helps saliva evaporate faster. This is also why it’s important for dogs to stay hydrated when they’re hot.
2. Overexertion or heatstroke
It’s normal for dogs to pant when they’re excited or engaging in activities like running or playing. They may take a break to lay down and pant after a vigorous run if they’re out of breath, which is completely normal.
However, heavy panting is different and may be a sign your dog is dangerously overheated. If you think your dog is excessively panting, it could be an early symptom of a heatstroke.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure that there’s sufficient water and shade available for your dog when they’re outdoors. Always closely monitor your dog for symptoms of heatstroke, especially on hot and humid days.
3. Dogs pant when they’re stressed
Your dog might be panting because they’re feeling anxious, nervous or fearful. When this happens, their body kicks into flight or fight response, causing them to pant more in order to increase oxygen supply in their body for when they need it.
Understanding the cause of fear or anxiety in your dog can help you minimise these incidents. Some of the common causes could be thunderstorms, bursting of fireworks, travelling or visiting a new and unfamiliar place, meeting new people or dogs, separation anxiety, vet visits, and other stressful events.
4. Your dog might be in pain
Pain is a very common cause of panting in dogs. A dog that’s in pain may pant excessively, especially if he or she is suffering from a physical condition or has just experienced something traumatising. So many older dogs suffer from arthritis which can be extremely agonising.
If your dog is panting when resting or sleeping, it’s important to consider if they are in any sort of pain. Some symptoms include withdrawing from attention, stiffness or lameness in their movements, licking or biting the area of pain or injury on their bodies, limping, or more.
5. Heart and respiratory problems
Dogs can pant excessively when the ability of their lungs to absorb oxygen and transfer it to the bloodstream is compromised. This can be caused by conditions like chronic bronchitis, or other illnesses that could result in a mass or fluid build up in the chest.
Dogs pant to maximise the amount of air in their lungs as a result of reduced lung capacity. It can be signs of difficulties in breathing, heart failure, lung tumours, or more and requires immediate medical attention and care.
6. Other reasons you should consider
Your dog could also be panting due to other serious ailments and conditions like Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), anaemia, toxic or allergic reactions, and more.
If you suspect that your dog is experiencing abnormalities in his or her panting, it’s best to take your dog to the vet immediately as they could be in life threatening danger and may require immediate medical attention.