Have you ever heard your dog breathing heavily and wondered, why do dogs pant?
Dogs pant and this is normal in healthy dogs. Panting helps regulate the body temperature of dogs. If the panting is abnormal, it can be a sign of emotional distress or illness. Panting is a sign that your dog is hot and excited or both.
If you had spent time with your pet dog, you would know they pant. Panting is best described as rapid shallow breathing. It speeds up the evaporation of water from the dog’s tongue, upper respiratory tract, and inside their mouth.
The evaporation of water helps to regulate the body temperature of the dog. This is important as a dog’s skin doesn’t sweat like human skin. Dogs often sweat through their paw pads. This alone is not sufficient to cool them off.
Panting is a cooling mechanism used by dogs to cool off. It allows the dog to release heat and exchange it for cool air. Dogs start panting when it starts to get a bit warm. The hotter the weather, the more intense the panting.
Panting allows the dog to circulate air through the body in an efficient manner. The rapid to moderate open-mouthed respiration is a normal behavior of dogs. The open-mouthed respiration gets oxygen into the dog’s bloodstream and lowers body temperature.
The normal breathing rate (non-panting) for dogs is 30 – 40 inhalations and exhalations per minute. When dogs pant, the breathing rate increases to 300 – 400 inhalations and exhalations per minute.
If the panting is intense and cannot be explained, you should get your dog to a good veterinarian. The vet will check if your dog is sick or injured.
Even though it seems panting takes a lot of energy, it doesn’t need much effort. The natural elasticity of the lungs and airways of the dog enables it to pant without much effort. There are two types of panting.
- Normal Panting
- Abnormal Panting
Normal panting occurs when the body of the dog overheats. This is a healthy and natural response.
Abnormal panting occurs if the dog has an emotional or physical issue. Look out for these signs if you want to determine if the panting is abnormal.
- The panting is excessive compared to the normal panting of the dog.
- The panting occurs when the dog’s body is not warm and it doesn’t need to cool.
- The panting is loud. The dog exerts more effort than normal when panting.
If you see any sign of abnormal panting, you should pay attention to it. The abnormal panting is of concern but you don’t need to panic. Panting should not be confused with normal breathing.
Why do dogs pant? – Causes for Abnormal Panting
Dogs with small faces (Brachycephalic breeds) such as bulldogs, boxers, Boston terriers, and pugs pant a lot. It is because these breeds often have breathing problems.
The upper airway is challenged in these breeds of dogs. This means they don’t pant as well as other breeds. They are also at an increased risk of heatstroke.
Overheating and Heatstroke
Dogs pant when their bodies get overheated. The signs of overheating in dogs include elevated body temperature, excessive thirst, increased heartbeat and pulse, and glazed eyes.
Pet owners should take precautions to prevent overheating and heat stroke. A heatstroke can have an adverse effect on the dog’s body. In some extreme cases, it can be too late to save your pet dog.
Keep the dog cool and cut its exposure to heat. Avoid walking the dog through extreme temperatures. Never leave them in a car, if the temperature is quite high. This will help prevent overheating and avoid heatstroke.
Discomfort or Pain
If your pet dog is experiencing discomfort or pain, abnormal panting is the first sign of trouble. Notice changes in their behavior and consult a veterinarian immediately.
If your dog has insufficient hemoglobin and an abnormally low volume of red blood cells, they could be experiencing oxygen starvation. Abnormal panting is one of the signs of oxygen deprivation.
Loss of appetite, weakness, rapid breathing, an elevated heart rate, and mental confusion are other signs of anemia. If your dog is anemic you need to consult a qualified veterinarian.
Adrenal glands release too much cortisol if the dog is suffering from Cushing’s disease. The release of cortisol hormone can have wide-ranging symptoms. One of the most prominent symptoms is abnormal panting. Cushing’s disease can be managed well with medication.
Allergic reactions affect the respiratory system of the dog. When dogs are exposed to allergens, the initial systems are itching, vomit, and urination. Abnormal panting is a sign of an allergic reaction.
Anxiety, Fear and Stress
Dogs who are anxious and stressed often pant abnormally. It is also known as behavioral panting. Separation anxiety, car rides, vet visits, and fireworks are some of the potentially stressful events for dogs.
Look for signs of discomfort in your dog. Try to understand the cause of anxiety and fear. This will help in minimizing the stressful events that affect your pet dog.
Provide your pet lots of love and affection so that they are able to overcome fear, anxiety, and stress. Avoid situations and places that stress your dog.
Overweight dogs often pant excessively. This is due to the excess strain that is placed on the cardiovascular system of the dog. Some breeds of dogs are prone to being overweight.
Obesity can be a symptom of other health issues. Check with the veterinarian if you are concerned with the health of your dog. Regular exercise and proper diet will help your dog gain health.
Dogs pant for many reasons. It is a completely normal behavior you can expect from your dog. Most often it is nothing to worry about. If you see any change in your dog’s behavior, it is best to seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian.
At times panting has got nothing to do with temperature. It can be a sign of happiness in your dog. Mild panting with an open mouth and bright and happy eyes are normal in a happy dog.
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