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Why Is My Dog Panting?

Learn the reasons dogs pant.

The grass is green, the sky is blue, and dogs pant. It seems like just one of those things that's normal. But it's good to understand dog panting, so you'll know when it's normal and when your dog may need to see the vet.

What Is Panting?

Panting is a type of fast, shallow breathing dogs do with their tongues out of their mouths.

Panting in Dogs Can Be Normal

Healthy dogs pant to regulate their body temperature, so if the weather is hot or the dog has exerted himself, panting is to be expected. It helps release heat from the body, cooled by mucus in the airways. It's a critical way for dogs to cool off since they don't have a lot of sweat glands: "Do Dogs Sweat?"

If your dog is otherwise healthy and pants after exertion or when it's hot, it's most likely normal.

Abnormal Causes of Panting in Dogs

Panting isn't always normal in dogs. Here are the signs your dog's panting isn't normal:

  • If there is a sharp increase in the amount of panting your dog is doing.
  • If the panting happens at rest or when it isn't hot out.
  • If it doesn't sound like your dog's typical panting.
  • If your dog appears to be using great effort to pant.

If any of those things are the case, there could be something wrong. Here are some of the things that cause abnormal panting in dogs:

  • Heatstroke. This is more than just getting hot because of exercise or a warm day. It's when the body gets extremely overheated, and it can lead to brain damage and death. You must keep your dog from getting overheated by not allowing him to overexert himself on sweltering days, giving him shelter from the sun, and making sure there's always fresh water available. Learn more: "Heatstroke in Dogs."
  • Pain. Pain from any source can cause a dog to pant more. Usually, it causes other signs also, such as a wild or fearful look in the eye, pacing, difficulty getting comfortable, limping, walking with a tense abdomen, or vocalizing.
  • Heart disease. If a dog's heart is unable to keep up with the workload of delivering oxygenated blood to all the tissues, the dog may pant as the body tries to make up for that.
  • Lung disease. Lung or airway problems may lead to excessive panting as the dog's body tries to get more oxygen to its tissues.
  • Cushing's disease. Also known as hyperadrenocorticism, the increased cortisol levels in the body during this condition can cause excessive panting.
  • Laryngeal paralysis. During this condition, a dog's larynx muscles don't work right, and the cartilage flap of the larynx isn't drawn out of the airway properly during breathing. This can lead to more panting.
  • Anemia. An anemic dog's body may trigger panting to try and get more oxygen to the tissues.
  • Anxiety or fear. Emotions can cause excessive panting in dogs.

If you suspect abnormal panting, make an appointment with your vet right away. In the case of heatstroke, it is an emergency, and your dog must be treated immediately.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Do Dogs Sweat?

Heatstroke in Dogs

Signs of Pain in Dogs

Heart Disease in Dogs

Cushing's Syndrome in Dogs

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