Dogs pant. They pant when they exercise, when they are hot, they pant when they are excited. Panting is your dog's way to cool their body. Because dogs don't sweat like we do the only effective way they can cool themselves is by panting. All dogs do that and it is perfectly normal.
So if panting is normal, why should you worry about it?
If your dog is panting more heavily than usual, or without an obvious reason, he might be in trouble! You share your life with your dog and nobody knows him better than you do. That's why it is so important for you to know when to start worrying. Excessive or unexplained panting can be a symptom of a serious health issue.
Obesity is a common cause of excessive panting in dogs. An obese dog is more likely to over heat. Activity is also more exhausting for an overweight dog. Before you rejoice that you don't have anything to worry about, please note that obesity can lead to a number of health problems including heart and cardiovascular disorders, pancreatitis, joint disease, liver disease and other conditions. Please consider obesity a serious health risk and keep your dog slim!
Heatstroke is another common cause of heavy panting. That doesn't make it any less dangerous! Heatstroke can cause catastrophic damage to your dog's body and can lead to brain damage and even death.
If your dog is panting heavily and you have a reason to suspect heatstroke, check for other signs. If your dog's gums and tongue are deep red, purple or blue with thick sticky saliva, move your dog to a cool place and spray him with cool (not cold) water or place wet rags or towels over him, particularly near the stomach and inside of legs. Do not immerse your dog in cold water! If your dog's temperature is over 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40°C) take your dog to a vet immediately.
A heatstroke is hyperthermia due to environmental causes. Fever is caused by your dog's immune response. Your dog might get a fever as a response to infection or other illness. Fever can be accompanied by loss of appetite, lethargy, changes in behavior and other signs. If your dog has a fever see a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. As with heatstroke, temperature over 104 degrees Fahrenheit is an emergency and needs immediate medical attention.
Respiratory or cardiovascular disorders
There are a number or respiratory and cardiovascular disorders than can cause unexplained panting in your dog. If your dog is panting for no obvious reason, or continues to pant longer than ten minutes after exercise, talk to your veterinarian.
Your dog can be panting as a response to pain. If your dog is panting and salivating excessively, retching and has a distended abdomen, he might be suffering from bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition, take your dog to a vet immediately!
Other causes of pain can include pancreatitis or joint pain. Have your dog checked by a veterinarian to determine underlying cause.
Excessive panting can be a sign of some hormonal disorders, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing's disease. In these cases panting could be accompanied by other symptoms, such as weight gain, excessive drinking, coat changes, changes in appetite or behavioral changes.
These are just some of the causes of excessive panting in dogs. If your dog is panting excessively, or without an obvious reason, take it seriously and consult your veterinarian. Excessive panting is an important symptom to keep in mind.
Panting in Dogs
Panting in Dogs – Is it Normal?
How to Determine When Dog Panting is a Bad Sign
Causes of Panting in Dogs
Excessive Panting in Dogs
Know Your Dog's Enemies: Overweight
Medical Jargon Explained: Hypo- Versus Hyperthermia
A Word on Pain
Medical Jargon Explained: Hypo- versus Hyperthyroid
Medical Jargon Explained: Hypo- versus Hyperadrenocorticism
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.