If you’re a doggy daddy or pup parent, you've probably seen your four-legged friend panting now and then. But what if your dog’s panting seems excessive? Can excessive dog panting or noisy breathing in dogs be a sign of a health issue? Read on to discover the possible causes of excessive dog panting and when to call the vet.
What causes panting in a normal dog?
Panting isn’t always a sign that something’s wrong with your paw-some pal. Healthy dogs will often pant if they are warm, excited, worried, or tired from exercise. This is perfectly normal behavior and nothing to worry about, as long as the panting isn’t excessive.
So, how much dog panting is excessive?
Of course, there’s no specific amount of panting that is 'too much' for any dog. Dogs are individuals, and the amount of panting they do will depend a bit on their breed, age, fitness, and lifestyle. For example, a very unfit dog may pant for longer after a walk than a very fit and active dog. The most important thing that will help you decide whether your dog's panting is excessive is knowing what's normal for them. Please don't panic, though; you'll get to know their normal panting behavior over time. Once you're aware of when they usually pant and for how long, you'll be able to spot any changes. As a rule, dogs should recover from exertion or heat within five to ten minutes. If they’re still panting after this despite resting in a cool, shady spot, this may be excessive.
Excessive panting might also mean your dog pants in a situation where they didn't use to, so it’s not only about the duration of the panting, but also the circumstances.
What are the possible causes of excessive dog panting?
This list of possible causes of excessive dog panting isn't exhaustive. Still, it should give you an idea of some of the most common reasons.
Heatstroke is life-threatening and affects more dogs than you might think. On a hot summer's day, it might be really tempting to get everyone out of the house into the fresh air for the day, including your furry family members. However, walking your dog when it's hot puts them at risk of heatstroke. In fact, it doesn't have to be exceptionally hot; just a warm day can cause heatstroke if your dog is exerting themselves and doesn’t have access to shade and water to cool off. Heatstroke is when a dog’s body temperature rises, and they cannot cool down effectively. Dogs can only lose heat by panting and via small amounts of sweat from their paws, and both methods are inefficient. Once your dog’s temperature gets too high, they risk seizures, brain damage, organ failure, and even death. To avoid heatstroke, you should only walk your dog at dusk or dawn on warm days and even skip a walk altogether if it feels too warm.
If your dog develops a heart problem, you might notice that they’re suddenly not able to run or walk for as long as they used. They might tire more easily and pant for a while after even a short walk. Heart problems might include abnormal heart valves, abnormal heart rhythm, cardiomyopathy, or congestive heart failure. Other symptoms that you might notice include their tongue or gums becoming pale or blue-tinged, coughing, labored breathing, or collapse.
Some lung conditions may also cause your dog to struggle with exercise. Just like heart disease, you might notice your dog's tongue and gums don't look so pink. You might also see them coughing and breathing faster or with more effort than normal. Lung conditions that may cause panting include pneumonia, severe inflammation, lungworm, and certain cancers.
Cushing’s disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism, is caused by an overactive adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is responsible for producing the steroid hormone cortisol, as well as having other roles in fluid regulation. Too much cortisol leads to symptoms like excessive panting and excessive thirst and hunger. You might also notice your dog's skin and fur have become thinner, and they’ve developed a pot-bellied appearance. Over time, Cushing’s can lead to diabetes and even congestive heart failure.
One of the most common causes of panting is pain. So, if your dog is panting, it could be a sign that they are painful. Sometimes the cause of the pain is obvious, especially if there’s been a recent trauma. However, some causes of pain, like arthritis, cystitis, back pain, or toothache, might not be so obvious. You can read more about the signs that your dog is in pain here.
If your dog suffers from occasional anxiety that’s temporary, then you don’t need to worry too much. However, if your dog experiences severe anxiety and stress, it can be distressing for both of you. Anxiety symptoms include panting, pacing, barking, whining, and even damaging furniture by scratching or chewing. Sometimes it's easy to pinpoint the cause of your dog's anxiety. For instance, they probably have separation anxiety if they follow you around constantly and seem to become anxious when you put your shoes on and grab your keys. Equally, if they start panting when they see another dog or when they hear a firework in the distance, you can see what the trigger is. However, not all stress triggers are apparent, and you might need your vet's help.
When to see a vet
If your dog has started panting more often or for longer than before, and you can’t find an obvious or fixable cause, it’s time to see a vet. This is especially important if panting isn’t their only symptom. Be sure to keep an eye out for changes in their thirst, appetite, and how often they pee because your vet might ask you some questions about it. It's also helpful to make a mental note of which situations cause your dog to pant – whether it's after a strenuous walk or when you try to leave the house. This information will give your vet some clues about what the problem could be. You can organize a vet consultation by visiting our homepage and following the links.
Why is my dog excessively panting for no reason?
Dogs pant for many reasons, and often it’s normal. However, if they’re panting excessively, it could be due to anxiety, pain, heatstroke, or an underlying health condition. Therefore, it’s best to get them checked over by a veterinarian.
When should I worry about my dog panting?
If your dog is panting more than normal or has other symptoms as well as panting, you should make an appointment to see a veterinarian. The vet will be able to help determine the cause and whether they need any tests or treatment.
Why is my dog panting so much while resting?
Some dogs will pant for a period of time after exertion, especially if it’s warm. But, if your dog doesn’t normally pant, or they’re panting more than normal, it’s best to speak to a veterinarian.
As a pet parent, you might think panting is pretty normal behavior. But if your dog’s panting is excessive or they have noisy breathing or breathing distress, it could be a sign of a health problem. So, if your dog starts panting in situations where they didn’t before, speak to your veterinarian about the possible causes.