Why is My Dog Panting?

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If you lie awake at night thinking, “Why does my dog pant so much?”, or “Why is my dog panting and restless?”, then you have to know that dog panting is a very common behavior. It’s often seen after a fun play session or when your dog is cooling down on a hot day. 

Characterized by a big lolling tongue, coupled with rapid, shallow breathing, this behavior is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.

However, when your dog’s pant seems unusual, are in discomfort or pain, or their panting sound louder or harsher than normal, then it could be a sign of something more serious like Cushing’s disease–when the adrenal glands produce excessive cortisol–or other health problem. 

If you’re still wondering, “Why do dogs pant?”, and you want to know the different reasons behind panting in dogs, then keep reading to find out.

Reasons Why Dogs Pant

There are a number of conditions why your dog is panting that is why it’s also crucial to be mindful of the overall situation and what the rest of your pet’s body language is telling you. Some of the most common reasons for this behavior are as follows:

To Cool Down

Your dog pants to regulate his body temperature. Unlike us, dogs do not have an effective system of sweat glands. Instead, they sweat a little within their ears and underneath their paw pads–but the amount of being able to cool down is limited by panting.

Dogs quickly exchange hot internal air from their lungs with cool external air, which speeds up the evaporation of water from their tongue, inside their mouth, as well as their upper respiratory tract. Once this water evaporates, their body temperature will start to regulate–thus cooling your pooch down effectively.

Feeling Anxious or Stressed

Panting is one of the primary behaviors exhibited by an anxious pooch. Termed as ‘behavioral panting’, loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks are common causes of fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) in your pup.

Excessive panting in dogs due to anxiety may be accompanied by the following symptoms such as trembling, repetitive yawning, whining, pacing, drooling, hiding, licking lips, flattened ears, crouched position, a tucked tail, refusing food, clingy behavior, the loss of control of their bowels, or in extreme cases, loss of bladder control.

Anemia

Whether in a human or a pup, anemia is defined as a condition diagnosed when there’s a fall in the number of red blood cells (RBC). Since these cells carry oxygen around to different parts of the body, anemia can lead to oxygen deprivation.

This could result in your dog’s increased panting for the deficit. In addition to this, an anemic dog has pale pink or white gums and may act lethargic.

Call Your Veterinarian if Prolonged Panting

Brachycephalic Syndrome

Brachycephalic breeds–dogs with short, flat squashed-nosed faces such as French bulldogs and pugs–tend to pant a lot because of their inability to breathe normally. This is particularly true after exercise or when the pup is eating meals.

This condition is called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) and is caused due to the upper respiratory tract becoming narrower [1].

These dogs suffer from ongoing breathing difficulties and they don’t pant as efficiently as other dogs which puts them at an increased risk of heat stroke.

Respiratory Illnesses

Dog panting can also be due to respiratory system disorders such as pneumonia, lung tumors, and laryngeal paralysis. Any respiratory problems could lead to breathing issues, and one of those signs could be dog panting or dog heavy breathing.

In the case of laryngeal paralysis, for example. Fido’s larynx–the opening to the windpipe–contains cartilage flaps that open wide while your pet is breathing and close when they swallow.

When your pet suffers from laryngeal paralysis, one or both of the flaps fail to open normally. His breathing will become difficult and labored.

This state is common in middle-aged to older dogs as their larynx loses its normal function.

Obesity

Obesity is a growing problem that has plagued not just humans but also dogs. It could lead to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, as well as debilitating life-altering conditions including arthritis.

Dogs pant because those extra pounds make it harder for them to get fresh, oxygenated blood to their critical body parts.

If you suspect that your pooch is overweight, you should call your vet immediately as it can lead to more serious health issues like heart failure and can reduce their lifespan as well.

Pet Dog May Be Tired or Thirsty If Panting

How Can I Tell If My Dog’s Panting Is Abnormal?

To determine if your dog is experiencing abnormal panting, you should observe the following signs according to experts:

  • Your pet’s breathing rate is much higher than normal.
  • Your dog is panting even if he hasn’t been exercising and doesn’t require cooling his body down.
  • His panting seems louder or harsher than normal.
  • Your pet is exerting more effort than usual while panting.

In addition, a dog panting a lot coupled with restlessness, shaking, or pacing could mean the pup is dangerously experiencing excess body heat, dealing with anxiety, or coping with a serious health condition.

A dog’s panting may be considered normal or abnormal. Normal panting happens when your dog is feeling a bit too hot and basically cooling his body down.

As mentioned earlier, your dog is panting because his body is evaporating water and heat across the moist surfaces of the tongue, lungs, and surfaces within his mouth. In such circumstances, his panting is considered natural and healthy.

In contrast, abnormal panting could be a common symptom of discomfort or physical pain along with heavy panting. It can be medication side effects, heart disease, or is experiencing certain emotional issues that need immediate attention.

Dog May Pant if it is Obese

Frequently Asked Questions

When Should I Worry About Dog Panting?

You should worry about your dog’s panting when you observe that he is panting for more than 15 minutes while resting, struggles to breathe, too tired to walk while panting heavily before lying down, the gums look darker or lighter than their normal color, or tinged with blue–a sign your dog isn’t getting enough oxygen.

Why Is My Dog Breathing Fast While Resting?

There are many factors why your dog is breathing fast while resting, and sometimes the underlying issue can be life-threatening. 

Dog breathing heavy or excessive and rapid breathing while resting is a condition referred to as tachypnea. 

The severity of your pet’s tachypnea will depend on the underlying problem causing him to breathe fast. It’s vital to take your dog to the vet to diagnose how serious the threat is and how to treat this condition best.

How Much Panting Is Normal For A Dog?

According to animal experts, the normal respiratory rate or panting for resting dogs is between 15 and 30 inhalations and exhalations per minute. 

Determine your pet’s normal respiratory rate by observing him when he is sleeping. Count how many complete breaths your dog takes in 15 seconds and multiply that number by four to get his breaths per minute.

Do Dogs Breathe Fast Sleeping?

Yes, dogs breathe fast while sleeping. In fact, most dogs breathe between 18 and 34 times per minute. 

This most likely happens when the dog is having an exciting dream but sometimes it could be a medical condition. 

Either way, most dogs who breathe fast sleeping aren’t experiencing any kind of health condition at all. A tiny bit of caution can never hurt, but don’t panic before you have at least called your veterinarian for a consultation.

Conclusion

Dogs may pant simply as a sign of happiness, or perhaps because of a medical issue such as heart illness, or it could be a pain–especially that pain dogs can be exceptionally good in hiding their pain. 

Whether it’s normal or abnormal panting, take your dog to the vet anyway to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. As the old saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

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