Your Dog and Panting

Panting is normally seen in dogs during the warmer months when they’re trying to cool down. While this is a common behavior in canines, there are also times when panting indicates something more significant that may require the attention of your veterinarian. Below are issues you should look out for if your dog is panting:

Pain/anxiety
When a dog is in pain, they may pant excessively. The same applies when they are anxious or nervous or if they’ve been through a traumatic experience. Trembling is another indication that your dog may be in pain or anxious and often accompanies panting.
Panting and pain can sometimes be a sign of an emergency situation and distress, such as when a dog is suffering from bloat. In cases of bloat, panting is often accompanied by retching. Immediate veterinary attention is required. 

Heart or respiratory problems 
Lung and/or heart disease can lead to panting or breathing rapidly due to discomfort, difficulty breathing sometimes accompanied by coughing. If you suspect that your dog is having breathing issues, see your veterinarian immediately.

An allergic or toxic reaction
If your dog ingests dangerous materials such as cleaning products, toxic foods, toxic plants or medications, panting may be among the symptoms that your dog exhibits. More common symptoms include the onset of gastrointestinal and/or neurological signs. If you suspect that your dog accidentally swallowed toxic products, immediately contact your veterinarian, a 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital, or a pet poison hotline for assistance. 

Overexertion
If you’ve been running with your dog or playing an intense game of fetch, your dog will eventually begin panting. Dogs cannot sweat. Their only way to cool themselves is to pant. Dogs pant when they’re overexerted or overheated. In this scenario, if your dog is panting heavily while playing or running, it’s best to let your dog take a break and rest in a cool, shaded area. If your dog’s breathing doesn’t return to normal in a few minutes, seek veterinary care. Dogs will push themselves beyond a safe range because they want to please you. Avoid exercising them outdoors for long periods of time on hot days.

Have a question for Dr. Klein? Email him at CVO@akc.org