Most of the time, panting is not an emergency.
In fact, most of the time, panting is not a medical problem at all. But it can be. A panting dog who becomes quiet, recumbent, and lethargic, is, in some cases, a dying dog.
How can one tell the difference?
How can you know whether your dog's panting is normal, a medical issue or an actual emergency?
Firstly, assess the circumstances. Has your dog been running and playing? Is your dog excited? How warm is the weather or environment? This is when knowing what is normal for your dog is very helpful.
Is there no obvious explanation or reason?
Are there any other concerning signs?
Medically significant reasons for excessive panting:
Medically significant reasons for excessive panting include obesity, pain, fever, heatstroke, heart or respiratory diseases, hormonal imbalances, even with poisoning.
Panting is an emergency under these circumstances:
- if your dog is also showing signs of severe pain or distress
- if your dog has been exposed to high temperatures
- if your dog is restless, unable to lie down comfortably, trying to vomit unsuccessfully
- if your dog is showing signs of weakness or lethargy
- if your dog seems unresponsive or disoriented
- if your dog's gums are any than normal color (normal gum color depends on the breed; typically it's pink)
Always consider things in context and when in doubt seek veterinary care.
Doe Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?