Older dogs, because of their age, are not as energetic as they were when they were only puppies. They are not as agile anymore and they cannot run as fast as before or walk long distances as they used to do when they were younger. These changes are natural in older dogs. One of the many changes you will notice is that they will begin to pant more.
Panting is a type of rapid and shallow breathing which speeds up the evaporation of water from your dog’s upper respiratory tract, tongue, and inside his tongue. When the water evaporates, your dog’s body temperature is regulated.
Panting is a way for them to regulate their body temperature and give off excess heat but if your dog begins to pant even without being in a warm environment or without having exercised, it can be a sign of a serious health problem that warrants urgent attention.
The Root of the Behavior
When dogs get older, they become more prone to various medical conditions and there are numerous reasons why your older dog is panting more. Congestive heart failure is the most serious condition that results in too much panting. This is almost exclusive to older dogs and it may be too late by the time your beloved pet starts to excessively pant as an effect of heart failure. It is crucial that your dog be taken quickly to an emergency veterinary center and have him checked and treated right away.
Heat stroke happens more commonly in older dogs when they are out in the hot weather for so long and do not have access to water. Pets can easily overheat because they are unable to sweat the same way humans do. Their fur is thick and tend to insulate them and makes them hotter. If your beloved canine goes through a heat stroke they can end up with major organ damage and worse, may die. Panting because of heatstroke is characterized as quite excessive and even your pet is already relaxing or resting, will still be unabated.
Obesity can cause many health problems, not only in humans but also in dogs. Although this problem is less immediate, it does not mean that it should be given less attention because it is still a major health issue. If your older dog is overweight and begins to pant excessively, you must consult a veterinarian on how you can remove your dog’s extra weight. When the excess weight is removed, your dog will be able to breathe better and will be able to avoid a wide range of potentially harmful conditions.
Dogs are unable to communicate how they feel with words, so they sometimes use panting as a tool. If your dog is coping with something painful or feeling any discomfort, frequent or heavy panting can be one of the first signs of trouble.
Encouraging the Behavior
Any time that your dog pants, it is important that you pay attention. Be vigilant when your older dog begins to pant excessively so you can tell if he just needs more water, needs to stay in a cooler place or needs to be brought to an emergency veterinary center.
There are many factors that come into play when determining your dog’s lifespan and caring for your senior dog is not a walk in the park. The best way to get your hands on the information you need is by talking to your veterinarian. It is important to take your old dog to veterinary examinations throughout his entire life because these exams are vital parts of your dog’s health support.
These exams are more necessary for aging dogs. It is also not a surprise if your veterinarian orders a general geriatric exam that includes fecal exam, blood work and laboratory tests twice a year. These exams are the best defence in catching or delaying the onset of various diseases such as osteoarthritis and organ failure. Learn to take notes of any change you see in your dog and mention them to your veterinarian. Even those minor changes can mean something more.
Other Solutions and Considerations
It is important to know that panting has two types: normal and abnormal. Normal panting happens when your dog’s body has too much heat, and it is a healthy and natural response in order to cope up with the excessive heat. On the other hand, abnormal panting can be a signal that your dog has emotional or physical needs that need to be investigated further.
How can you tell the difference between the two? Abnormal panting is unrestrained and uncontrolled compared to how your dog pants normally. It happens even when there are no triggers to cause it such as too much heat. Abnormal panting is also harsher and louder. There is a cause for concern when your dog abruptly begins panting at unbefitting times or when he seems to pant heavier than usual.
Once you notice that your dog has started to pant more, take stock of the situation right away. It is a must to determine if there are any other symptoms which may be going on concurrently. Take note of these symptoms and immediately bring your dog to a veterinarian for emergency attention to check for underlying conditions.
By a Chow Chow lover Jhoana Carla de Toro
Published: 03/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020