To understand panting, it is important to first discuss its purpose. Panting is a type of rapid, shallow breathing that helps dogs regulate their body temperature and keep it at a level that is beneficial to their health. By doing this, they are able to cool their bodies and prevent overheating.
Furthermore, excessive panting can be a sign of health problems, such as respiratory or heart issues, so it is important to be aware and take note of when it is occurring. Once the purpose and potential danger of excessive panting is understood, it is possible to discuss the different types and when to be concerned.
When a dog's body temperature reaches 38 or 39 degrees, they start panting as a way to cool down. By sticking out their tongue and quickly breathing in and out, the water evaporates from their mouth and allows the air to cool their body more effectively. This release of heat helps the dog feel more comfortable.
The owner may sometimes think their dog is panting too much. It is normal for a dog's breathing rate to increase from 30-40 breaths to 300-400 breaths when panting, which is ten times more!
However, the lungs and airways of a dog are very elastic and it does not require much effort for the dog to pant.
What is excessive panting in a dog?
Panting in dogs can be divided into two categories: normal and excessive.
Normal panting is a physiological response that occurs when the dog's body needs to cool off and regulate its temperature. It can also be normal if the dog is feeling anxious, scared, or overly excited. This is similar to how humans respond to intense situations.
Therefore, if a dog is panting after exercise, on a hot day, or due to fear or excitement, it should not be a cause for concern. However, if panting persists for an extended period of time, then a visit to the vet is necessary, especially if this occurs frequently.
If a dog is panting heavily and breathing rapidly with no obvious explanation, or if it does not cease panting, this could be a sign of abnormal panting. Clues to look for include:
- Panting that is longer-lasting than usual, especially loud panting.
- Panting that is not in response to heat, excitement, or fear.
- Panting that sounds different from normal (louder, heavier, with unusual sounds in breathing).
- Panting that appears to require effort.
- Panting that suddenly begins or follows strange patterns.
Causes of heavy panting in dogs
Excessive panting in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
If your dog is panting a lot and drooling in a hot environment or after exercise on a hot day, then they could be suffering from heat stroke, which is a very serious condition. Symptoms include glazed eyes and tachycardia. To prevent heat stroke, do not take your dog outside during the hottest hours of the day.
Obesity can also lead to excessive panting in dogs, just like in humans. An overweight dog will be more prone to illnesses and tire more easily, leading to excessive panting.
There is a tendency for certain breeds of dog to pant excessively. These are those with short or flat muzzles, known as brachiocephalic breeds, such as bulldogs or boxers. These dogs may have difficulty in breathing efficiently, so their panting is often excessive.
Panting can also be a symptom of heart disease in dogs, such as canine cardiomyopathy. This will usually be accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, coughing, and lethargy. If you suspect your dog may have a heart condition, take them to the vet immediately.
The list of diseases that could be causing panting in dogs is extensive. Cushing's syndrome, anemia, and paralysis of the larynx are just a few examples. Panting in these cases is caused by an oxygen deficit in the body, just like with heart disease.
In the case of Cushing's, panting is caused by an excess of cortisol. It is important to note that panting will not be the only symptom of an underlying disease, so it is important to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice any changes in their behavior.
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When a dog is panting excessively or for seemingly no reason, it may be a sign of pain or discomfort. Pay attention to your pup if they start panting during rest periods (even while sleeping).
Irregular panting can also be a warning sign. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your pup, take them to the veterinarian for an examination.
It is recommended to take your dog to the vet if they are panting very intensely and there is no clear explanation, such as heat or physical exhaustion.
The vet can conduct tests to determine if the panting is due to pain or an illness, which should be addressed as soon as possible to ensure your dog gets the help they need. Early detection is key to a successful recovery.