Why Do Dogs Pant?

There are many reasons why dogs pant, but the most common is to cool down. Dogs have a high body temperature compared to humans, and they need to pant to cool down. Anything over 103 degrees can cause dogs to suffer, so it is important for them to cool down.

There are several additional reasons why dogs may be panting that do not relate to them being too hot. If your dog is panting and you haven’t been out in the heat, it could be he or she is nervous or anxious. When they do not know how to respond to a situation, dogs may pant as an outlet for their nerves.

What Is Panting in Dogs?

Dogs don’t sweat like humans do because they have fewer sweat glands in their skin than people do, so instead of using evaporative cooling, dogs dissipate heat by panting with open mouths that take in air at high speed to create a current of air across mucous membranes lining the throat and mouth cavity. This process creates an evaporative effect as moisture from inside the dog’s mouth is carried to their lungs, which cools the blood running through them and then circulates throughout the body.

Not everyone agrees that panting acts as a mechanism of heat dissipation. Some feel it’s not the air coming in and out of the mouth but rather evaporation off of mucous membranes lining the dog’s mouth and respiratory tract that is primarily responsible for cooling.

Thus, when we see a dog panting we assume they are hot and in need of some relief. But it turns out that this is not always the case.

Common Reasons for Panting

There are a number of reasons why dogs pant, both in hot weather and at other times.

Your Dog Needs to Cool Down

Any time temperatures are high you’ll want to be sure that your pet has plenty of water and easy access to a place where they can get out of the sun and relax in comfort. Dogs pant to cool down, so if they’re feeling hot you’ll see them breathing hard and opening their mouths wide to take in lots of air.

When you’re outside with your pet, it’s important to remember that they can’t tell you when they’re feeling too hot, so it’s up to pet owners to watch for signs of overheating.

Your Dog is in Pain or Discomfort

Occasionally, panting is caused by an injury that causes pain. This type of exertion can cause dogs to pant through their mouths because it hurts to breathe through the nose. If your pet is panting and you cannot figure out why, it’s always best to see a veterinarian as soon as possible, because the problem may require immediate attention.

Your Dog Is Under Stress

If your canine companion is not used to strenuous activity, you may notice that he or she pants heavily when they are trying to catch their breath or calm down after a workout. You may also notice that your pet is panting if he or she is in distress, acting aggressively, barking excessively, or whining for no good reason.

You may notice your dog panting if you leave the house and come back, even if it’s not hot outside. Dogs that are very anxious can also be more prone to panting than their relaxed counterparts, so keep an eye on your pet’s breathing whenever they’re in a new place or around people they don’t know.

Is Your Pet Having a Toxic or Allergic Reaction?

Dogs pant for many reasons, and if you notice that your pup is panting and acting lethargic or depressed it may signal that something is wrong. Panting is also a common symptom of poisoning, so if you think your pet has ingested something toxic, call the veterinarian right away.

Dogs can also have allergic reactions to certain foods, plants, pollen, and other environmental factors, so if you’ve changed your dog’s diet or introduced a new item into their environment, and they start panting excessively, it’s time to take them in for a check-up.

Your Dog Is Excited

If you have a new puppy it’s very normal for them to pant when they are experiencing new stimuli or meeting new people or animals. This is due to the fact that pets tend to be nervous in unfamiliar situations until they become more comfortable. Puppies usually outgrow this stage by the time they are six months old.

Dogs also pant when they are playing. This is often because they are overexcited and their breathing speeds up to match their heart rate. You’ll see this most commonly when dogs are playing with each other, but it can also happen when they are playing with their owners.

Physical Problems That Can Cause Panting

There are a number of physical problems that can cause dogs to pant, even when it’s not hot outside. Some of these include:

  • Respiratory problems such as kennel cough, bronchitis, and pneumonia
  • Allergies or asthma
  • Heart problems such as congestive heart failure or aortic stenosis
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Metabolic problems such as liver disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and Addison’s disease
  • Neurological problems such as seizure disorders and epilepsy.

A number of these conditions are life-threatening without prompt veterinary attention. Some can be managed with medication or dietary changes, but only a veterinarian can diagnose them. If you notice that your pet is panting even when it’s not hot outside, call the doctor right away.

What to Do if Your Dog Is Panting Heavily?

If your dog is panting heavily, there are a few things you can do to help.

  • Make sure they have plenty of fresh water to drink
  • If you are experiencing heat stroke symptoms, take your dog to a cool place indoors where they can rest and drink plenty of fluids
  • If you think your dog has ingested something poisonous, take them to the vet immediately.
  • If your dog is panting due to anxiety or excitement, try to relax them by speaking calmly and petting them gently.

When to See a Vet?

Dogs can’t tell us when they’re not feeling well, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of common health problems.

Dogs pant for many reasons, and if you cannot figure out why your pup is breathing heavily it’s always best to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to diagnose the problem and provide the necessary treatment. By being proactive and taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular check-ups, you can help ensure that they live a long and healthy life.