All dogs pant. Panting is an essential part of being a normal, healthy dog and it is necessary for them to be able to regulate their body temperature. However, there are different degrees of panting and rapid breathing and if your dog seems to be panting heavily or even in pain while breathing, then it could be cause for concern and a visit to your veterinarian.
Here are five common causes of heavy panting in dogs that will help you understand where this unusual behavior comes from and what you can do about it.
Panting Keeps Them Cool
Dogs don’t have the ability to sweat the same way we do, so one of the ways that they cool down is by panting heavily with their mouths wide open. You might have noticed that, after a long walk or a vigorous playtime session, your dog appears to have “broken down” and he flops down on the floor panting loudly and frantically. This is entirely normal, especially in warmer climates, but only when the panting is the direct result of a trigger and lasts for a relatively short period of time. What isn’t normal is when your dog starts breathing heavily when he is just chilling out at home and if you notice this happening more often, then you should contact your vet for a checkup. It could be nothing. However, it could be linked to something far more serious, like damaged lungs, heat exhaustion, issues regarding blood, or another disease that is causing the breathing problems. Keeping a bowl of fresh water nearby for your dog is very important, especially in warm weather.
They Are Excited
When dogs are excited, they will often start panting, which looks like they are smiling at us. This will usually be accompanied by frantic tail wagging and jumping around, simply because they cannot contain their excitement. As with the above point, panting heavily due to the excitement is normal, but only for a short period of time.
Excessive panting can also be a result of anxiety or fear in dogs. For example, if your dog knows that getting in the car means a trip to a vet, you may notice that he will start breathing heavier than normal. If a dog is feeling anxious, they may also start pacing, whining or obsessively licking the floor. If you suspect that your dog is experiencing anxiety, then you should look into remedies that could help her to calm down. CBD-infused dog treats are an excellent natural supplement that can offer your dog some relief and there are different flavors and strengths to choose from, so even the pickiest of eaters will find a flavor they like! However, if you are in any way unsure, you should always consult your veterinarian.
In some cases, heavy panting or fast breathing can indicate that your dog is experiencing a more serious health issue, which can be more worrisome if they are older dogs. If you live in a warm country, then heat stroke could be a potential danger to your dog, especially if you are exercising her while the sun is strong. Heart and lung issues can also cause a dog to pant excessively and this is their way of trying to alleviate the painful symptoms they are experiencing.
If your dog has come into contact with something foreign in your yard or has been bitten by an insect, he could have a sudden allergic reaction. If you suspect that your dog could have come into contact with poison and you notice that his breathing is labored and he is salivating more than usual or there are other likely symptoms, then take him to the vet immediately.
If your dog does have an underlying health issue, then usually heavy breathing will be accompanied by other symptoms including:
A Reaction to Medication
Certain medications can provoke an allergic reaction in dogs. So, if your dog has started taking a new medication and seems to be panting a lot, then you should consult your vet as soon as possible.
As a devoted dog parent, you are going to worry about your pup just as you would a child. Always remember that heavy panting in an otherwise healthy dog is usually just a sign of excitement, a reaction to heat or simply feeling exhausted after a workout. In some cases, it can also indicate anxiety or fear, so it is important that you are vigilant of any potential triggers that could be causing your dog to feel nervous and do your best to calm him. If you notice that your dog’s panting is brought on suddenly and you notice that his tongue or gums have become pale, then it could indicate a serious problem and you will need to get him to an emergency vet as soon as possible.
Jennifer is the voice behind the FOMO Bones blog. She's pretty sure in her past life, she was a Great Dane. However, we peg her as more of a labrador. Regardless of her breed, she's a dog enthusiast who has 15 years experience training dogs and owners.