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What is Panting?

It is normal for your dog to pant, especially if they are hot, overstimulated, injured or sick. Light panting is generally nothing to worry about. Labored panting for longer than 30 minutes when resting and not in a hot environment is a concern and should be checked by your veterinarian. As a responsible dog owner, you will know your dog’s normal panting from excessive or labored panting could mean your dog is in distress.

  • Overheated
  • Overstimulated
  • Injured
  • Sick
  • Allergic reaction
  • Stress 

Typically, your dog will pant as a way to cool down and regulate their body temperature. You will probably notice an increase in panting after physical activity or during a warm day. If your dog’s panting does not subside within about 30 minutes or you notice your dog not able to either draw in air or expel air while panting, seek veterinary attention quickly. 

Your dog could be experiencing a sickness, allergic reaction or injury.  They may also be overstimulated or stressed due to environmental factors such as a thunderstorm. Finding the cause of your dog’s excessive panting is important so any life-threatening conditions can be found and quickly treated.

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Why Panting Occurs in Dogs

There are three main reasons that your dog is panting. Your dog’s panting may be a simple matter of them trying to cool down. It could signal that they are stressed or over-excited. Labored panting could be a sign of an illness or injury. Most people will be able to tell the difference between normal panting that is used for cooling down and excessive panting that is a symptom of an illness. 

Cooling Down

Your dog does not have the ability to sweat like humans, instead they use panting as a way to cool down and regulate their body temperature. Light panting should not be concerning. Even labored panting that lasts for less than 30 minutes following exercise should not be concerning. On hot days, keep your dog in a cool place and provide plenty of cold water and shade. 

Overstimulation

You will notice that your dog begins to pant when they are over-stimulated. This can occur from:

  • Nervousness 
  • Excitement 
  • Fear

Sensitive dogs may become agitated or nervous from thunderstorms, fireworks or other loud noises. They may also be fearful of strangers coming near them. On the other hand, they may become overly excited by events such as visitors or other dogs and begin to pant. Phobias can cause your dog to have health issues when they are left unchecked.

Illness or Injury

Excessive and/or labored panting can be a sign that your dog is sick or injured. In these instances it is a good idea for you to contact your veterinarian and take your dog in for an appointment. 

  • Poisoning 
  • Allergic reaction 
  • Heatstroke 
  • Anemia
  • Heartworms 

Failure to seek medical attention and proper treatments for any illness or injury may result in your dog’s death.

What to do if your Dog is Panting

Being overly warm will cause your dog to pant in order to cool down. Typically, if your dog’s panting does not subside, you will want to do a thorough examination of your dog. Feel your dog’s groin and if it feels hot to the touch, your dog is overheated, either from heatstroke or a fever. Check your dog’s mouth, tongue and gums, they should be a pink color. A very pale pink or white color or a bluish purple to the tongue and gums means that there could be a serious health issue. You will need to seek emergency veterinary care.

Allergic reactions or poisonings will need immediate veterinary care. Allergic reactions could be from insect stings, food or an environmental cause. Poisonings could be intentional or unintentional and can come from food, chemicals or plants. If you see your dog eating something unusual, try to get a sample to take with you to the veterinary clinic. 

Other possible causes that may not require an emergency visit to a veterinary clinic but will require veterinary care include heartworms, anemia or infection. 

In most cases where your dog is overstimulated from nervousness, fear or excitability, you can speak with your veterinarian about different ways to calm your dog. Some veterinarians will recommend natural ways to calm your dog’s nervousness or fear.  Seeking the advice of a qualified dog trainer could also help your dog.

Prevention of Panting

Many common dog illnesses can be avoided by practicing responsible dog ownership. Keep your dog vaccinated against the common dog illnesses, make sure that a fecal examination is done at least once a year to look for intestinal worms, do a heartworm test once a year, and utilize heartworm preventatives.

You can avoid heatstroke in your dog by ensuring that they have plenty of fresh, cold water and shade. It is best when outside temperatures climb, that you allow your dog to be indoors in air conditioning or with a fan. 

Know what your dog is eating, if there are any recalls of their food, and also know what products, plants and chemicals can cause allergic reactions or poisoning. Keep all chemicals, and anything else that can cause your dog to become sick, out of reach of your dog.

As for over-stimulation, find what works best for your dog. You may want to consult a qualified dog trainer to help you determine the best way to help your dog overcome their stress, fear or over-excitability.

Cost of Panting

Treatment cost will vary depending on the underlying cause of your dog’s excessive panting. For example, heartworm treatments can cost around $1,800. If your dog is diagnosed with anemia, treatments can cost around $1,200.