“Why is my dog panting?” is a common question that most pet owners have asked themselves at least once. Dogs pant a lot, and most of the time, it is healthy and normal, especially following long walks and playtime.

Excessive panting is a different case, and it can cause you to worry about your dog’s health. There are many reasons why your dog might be panting more than usual. Let’s find out why your dog is panting so much and if it’s in an unhealthy or healthy manner.

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Why Is My Dog Panting So Much?

Dog panting is normal, but if they are doing it more than usual, you are probably asking yourself, “why is my dog panting so much?” When your dog won’t stop panting or is panting abnormally, shaking, or restless, it could be a sign of a more severe problem.

When a dog gets hot, excited, or full of energy, panting is nothing to worry about, but heavy panting can mean that they are overheated, have a chronic health problem, or experienced some type of trauma.

Various conditions produce symptoms of heavy or excessive panting:

Heat Stroke

The main reason dogs pant is to help keep cool and dogs are much more susceptible to overheating during the warmer months. Heatstroke occurs when their body temperature gets too high, and their vital organs begin to fail.

If your dog is overheated, you might notice them panting faster and heavier than usual, and they could have trouble breathing. If they aren’t severely overheated, take your dog to a cooler area and provide them with plenty of water. Other symptoms of canine heatstroke include vomiting, weakness, and a dark tongue or gums.

Poisoning

If your dog is panting abnormally, they may have ingested something poisonous to them; it’s one of the most common reasons dogs and other pets get rushed to visit the vet. Poisoning often comes from your dog eating chocolate, raisins, or dangerous plants. They can also become sick if they interact with things like mouse poison, slug killer, or antifreeze.

Heart Failure

Like people, heart failure can affect dogs, and they even show many of the same symptoms, like coughing, difficulty breathing, weakness, and reduced tolerance to exercise. Panting is a common sign of heart failure; it occurs because they are trying to compensate for the lack of oxygen circulation.

If your dog is struggling to catch their breath when they aren’t exerting much energy, it could be a problem with their heart.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome occurs when your dog’s adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of cortisol. This syndrome is more common in senior and middle-aged dogs.

In addition to excessive panting, signs of Cushing’s Syndrome are intense thirst, weight gain, and the thinning of skin and hair. Your dog may also appear to have a potbelly.

Treatments for Cushing’s Syndrome range from adrenal-supressing drugs to surgery.

Respiratory Disorder

Abnormal breathing and panting can be related to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia, laryngeal paralysis, and even lung tumors. Most respiratory disorders lead to difficulty breathing and excessive panting

Panting isn’t always directly caused by respiratory issues, but when your dog is having trouble breathing, they become stressed and can overheat, which leads to more panting than usual.

Other symptoms can include lethargy, fever, and coughing.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

Brachycephalic dog breeds, like Boxers, Pugs, and French Bulldogs, have short noses and flat faces, making them more prone to excessive panting. Because they have a narrowed respiratory tract and nostrils, they typically have more difficulty breathing than other breeds.

They tend to pant heavily and more often than other dogs to keep themselves cool, especially after exercising and mealtime. Brachycephalic dogs are more prone to overheating and suffering from heatstroke; they should be monitored closely, especially in hotter weather.

Anemia

Anemia is a result of a reduced amount of hemoglobin or circulating red blood cells. Labored breathing is one of the most common symptoms of anemia in dogs because the condition leads to oxygen deprivation.

Dogs with anemia might pant more often to compensate for their lack of oxygen, and they may suffer from other symptoms like having little energy and stamina, faster heart rate, loss of appetite, and signs of blood loss in their urine or stool.

Obesity

Obesity in dogs is a problem that keeps rising, and it can lead to other complications like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Excessive panting is common in overweight and obese dogs and is a sign that they aren’t getting enough fresh oxygen in their system.

If your dog is panting a lot because of their weight, changing their diet and exercise routine can help them live a longer, happier, and healthier life.

Related: Our Thoughts on Organic Dog Food

Need to Cool Down

A dog panting to cool down after a walk

Dogs can’t sweat like humans do because of their thick fur. They are able to produce sweat in their paw pads, but it’s not enough to keep them sufficiently cool as panting does. When your dog pants, they quickly release hot air and replace it with cool air, speeding up the evaporation of water that accumulates in their mouth and upper respiratory tract.

The evaporation of water is what cools your dog down and regulates their body temperature. The safe and normal temperature range for dogs is from 99.5 to 102.5°F.

Anxiety or Stress

When your dog is anxious or stressed, they release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that can raise their body temperature and cause them to pant more than usual in an effort to cool down. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common reasons why your dog is panting so much.

In addition to panting, an anxious or scared dog might pace, whine, hide, shake, or yawn over and over.

When your dog is excited and happy, they release the same hormones as when they are nervous, so paying attention to your dog’s body language is important in determining whether or not they are stressed out. If your dog is staying low to the ground and has large round eyes, the panting is probably due to them being afraid or worried.

One of the best ways to help your dog when they are anxious or stressed, whether it’s due to events like fireworks and car rides, or is a chronic problem, is treating them with natural CBD products. Many pet owners have had success in calming down their anxious or stressed out dog with CBD.

Allergic Reaction

If your dog has an allergic reaction to bug bites, stings, medication, or anything else, increased panting can occur, along with other respiratory signs. If your canine companion suddenly starts panting heavily and is having difficulty breathing, coughing, or vomiting, it could be an allergic reaction to something they interacted with.

Allergies can also affect their skin and gut, and severe cases can lead to anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is a serious and potentially fatal condition, and you should seek care from a veterinarian immediately if your dog is showing symptoms.

Bloated Stomach

Gastric Dilatation, or a bloated stomach, happens when gas builds up in your dog’s gut but they can’t release it. If your dog has a bloated stomach, it is an uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening thing for them.

Intermittent bloating can put pressure on your dog’s organs and lungs, which leads to them breathing more heavily than usual. Excessive panting can also occur due to the pain associated with a bloated stomach.

When To See the Vet for Excessive Panting in Dogs

Panting is a normal thing for dogs after exercising, when it’s hot, or when they’re excited, but for excessive panting in dogs, a trip to the vet might be necessary. Depending on a dog’s age and size, they take anywhere from fifteen to thirty breaths every minute. If they are breathing more heavily than normal and panting for seemingly no reason, it might be time to talk to your vet.

See your vet immediately if you see any of these symptoms in your dog:

  • Sudden panting without any reason
  • They seem to be in pain
  • Their panting is intense and constant
  • A white, purple, or blue tongue or gums — this means they aren’t getting enough oxygen

Final Thoughts

A dog panting normally

Most of the time, it’s entirely normal for your dog to pant — it’s how they cool down after playing or being outside on a hot day. Anxious and excited dogs also pant more than normal, and hyper dogs typically pant more than calm ones.

Normal panting should not occur at random times or be consistently excessive. Heavy breathing and odd panting patterns can be a sign of a more serious problem, and paying attention to their panting can help prevent them from having problems down the road.

Providing your pet with proper exercise, a nutritionally balanced diet, and plenty of water on hot days can help prevent many of these issues. If your dog is constantly panting for seemingly no reason, it’s probably time to take a trip to your vet.

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