Panting in dogs usually happens because of heat, but excessive panting can mean there is something amiss. There are a number of reasons that can cause these symptoms like heat exhaustion, heat stroke, etc.
However, if your dog is panting while he is not involved in any kind of physical activities, he could be suffering from an underlying health condition.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the problems that can cause excessive panting in a dog.
Why Do Dogs Pant?
The phenomena of panting in dogs is caused by the absence of sweat glands. In humans, excessive body heat is cooled off by sweating, which the dogs cannot do. That’s why when they are hot, they pant through their tongues. They cool down their body temperatures by breathing and panting. It is perfectly normal for a dog to pant when it is out in heat on a sunny day, all during play time at the park.
In some dog breeds that they have their faces pushed in, like bulldogs, terriers, pugs, etc., panting is excessive because they have a smaller nasal passage and a shorter windpipe. Heat reduction, for them, requires extra work which means extra and heavy panting. So, this begs the question, what determines if a dog is panting normally, are there is an underlying health condition behind it.
As a responsible dog owner, you should be able to tell if your dog’s panting is a normal behavior. Dogs huff and puff after a walk, it is not something to be alarmed about. The key is to notice if there are any changes in the intensity or frequency of how excessively your dog is panting, especially if he was not involved in any rigorous physical activity. This could be an indicator of a serious health issue that the dog is hiding.
What you need to look for is that if your dog continues to pant when he is resting, or long after the physical activity is over, or after being exposed to the heat, then you should consider taking him for a checkup. The vet will assess if there is any illness which is causing this behavior in your dog.
What Causes a Dog to Pant Excessively ?
Here are some of the common causes that can be responsible for heavy panting in dogs.
- Heat Stroke
First one on the list and the most common one, is the heat stroke in dogs. A serious heat stroke has the potential to cause severe damage to the physical health of the dog. There are a number of reasons that can cause heat stroke in dogs.
It can be because of vigorous exercise on a hot Sunny Summer Day. Or if the dog stayed under the sun without water for too long. Or if you leave your dog in a parked car with no air conditioning. When the body temperature of a dog goes over the limit of 104-degree Fahrenheit, excessive panting will ensue.
If the dog is not attended in time, the body temperature will soar to 107 which can lead to a heat stroke. Heatstroke can be fatal, it can damage the brain and in some extreme cases it feels even result in death.
Heat stroke also has other symptoms along with excessive panting. Some of them are:
- Extra Drooling
- Redness on Gums &Tongue
If your dog is suffering from obesity, it can also cause excessive panting. If the dog is panting excessively and he is fat, then your dog needs to shed a few pounds.
- Brain Fog
One of the conditions associated with heavy panting in dogs is brain fog or cognitive dysfunction. It is the inability and loss of ability to perform intellectual functions. In older dogs who are excessively panting it can be accompanied by other symptoms too, like moving in circles, pacing, bumping into the walls and furniture, low social interaction, inability to recognize the members of family, etc. The symptoms are a tell-tale sign of cognitive dysfunction.
- Anxiety and Stress
Stress and anxiety can also cause the dogs to pant excessively. Change in the environment and scenery can be a stressful experience for a dog. When a dog moves to a new home, it can make him anxious, which can lead to this behavior until they get settled in the new home. When they become comfortable with the change environment, excessive panting will go away.
- Physical Injury
If you dog is suffering from some kind of pain or injury it can manifest in the form of heavy panting. If it is accompanied by other symptoms like limping, biting, restlessness, whimpering, constant licking at a particular part of the body, etc. you need to check their body part for any kind of injury.
- Medicine Side Effects
Some medicines can cause excessive panting as a side effect. Drugs like painkillers, corticosteroids, etc. are known to have this adverse effect.
What To Do About Excessive Panting in Dogs?
There are few things that you can do if your dog has suddenly excessively started panting. You need to check for symptoms of choking, heat stroke, poisoning, physical injury, etc.
If your dog recently had a meal and started panting afterwards, something could be blocking his windpipe. It will be accompanied by trying to vomit and gagging. If your dog was playing outside in the yard or the park, he could have eaten something toxic.
Poisoning can have symptoms of vomiting, convulsions, drooling, etc. If a dog was playing outside on a hot sunny day, he could have suffered a heat stroke. Monitor his body temperature immediately if that is the case. If a dog has fever, you need to take him to the vet. If he is panting excessively because of stress, anxiety, or fear, try to take the dog away from the source of this problem.
We hope these tips help you in understanding the behavior of excessive panting in dogs.
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