In the vast majority of situations, panting is a normal respiratory response for dogs. When their body temperature rises, dogs rely on panting rather than sweating to cool down. In addition, panting in dogs is normally seen when your dog is under stress or anxiety, or as a response to intense physical activity. However, if there is no apparent reason for your dog’s panting, there may be a more serious health problem afoot. As such, it is important to recognize the difference between normal and abnormal panting.
Panting is defined as breathing with rapid, short gasps usually after physical exertion or in extreme temperatures. When dogs pant, they breathe through an open mouth and usually their tongue is hanging out. Panting helps a dog to cool down and regulate breathing and is normally associated with
- Heat – to cool down
- Physical exertion – to normalize breathing
- Nervousness, anxiety, or excitement – as a response to stressful stimuli
Nevertheless, while panting is a very normal dog behavior, abnormal panting has been associated with a variety of health problems. Most notably, abnormal panting may be the sign of a respiratory or cardiovascular problem. Dogs suffering from respiratory disorders often pant more than usual or for no apparent reason. In addition, panting in dogs with respiratory or cardiovascular illness is also combined with other symptoms like labored breathing, lethargy, changes in appetite, or lack of motivation.
The following are common respiratory and cardiovascular conditions where abnormal panting is a symptom.
- Collapsing trachea
- Obstruction of the respiratory tract
- Lung disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Dilated cardiomyopathy
Unfortunately, these conditions are all very serious if left untreated. While there is very rarely any reason to have concern about your dog’s panting, if you suspect abnormal panting in addition to other symptoms, visit your veterinarian immediately so your dog can start the correct course of treatment.