Why Do Dogs Pant?


Dogs are one of the most popular pets that people can own. They come in all different kinds of breeds, including mixed and mutt breeds. There are dogs of all different sizes, attitudes, and colors. As with choosing to adopt any pet, adopting a dog is a decision that takes a lot of time to settle on.

After all, you are going to want to be sure that you are choosing the dog that is right for your family. While you are looking at dogs that you want to adopt, you are also going to want to think about how you are going to take care of your dog, what toys you will buy for it, and how you will manage its health. Understanding why your dog acts the way it does is a crucial part of keeping it healthy. Even knowing why dogs do the most basic things is important. For instance, most people consider dog panting to be normal, but it can be a sign that there is something very, very wrong.

By choosing to understand what the warning signs are in your dog’s health, you will be able to take the appropriate measures to keep your dog alive for as long as possible. Understanding why your dog pants will also help you understand how to tell the difference between panting on a normal day and when panting means that there is something more going on. It will also help you know what course of action to take if you realize that your dog’s panting is unnatural. These are just some of the things to consider when you are planning to bring a dog into your family.

Why Do Dogs Pant?

When you think about it, you might realize that your dog actually does a fair bit of panting, especially if you exercise with your dog regularly. Chances are that you do not give a second thought to this, as a panting dog is about as typical of a behavior as you can get. What you might not realize is that there are several reasons why your dog might be panting, with some of them being more troublesome than others.

In general, there are three reasons why your dog might be panting. The most common reason is to cool themselves down. Dogs also pant when they are fearful, anxious, or stressed. In some cases, health problems and pain can also be a reason why your dog is panting. Each of these reasons has a different way to manage the problem, making it important for you to determine if the panting is an indicator of a problem, or just a normal response.

Dogs pant as a primary method of cooling themselves down. This could be due to simply exercising a bit more rigorously than the dog is used to, or it could be because it is a bit too hot outside. It could even be a combination of both reasons. Unlike people, dogs can’t really sweat to let out heat. In the area where dogs sweat, the paws and the ears, the amount of sweat that can evaporate is miniscule compared to the insulating factors of your dog’s fur coat. Because of this, the best way dogs have evolved to cool themselves down is through panting. You will usually notice this after a walk in the park on a summer day or after a session of play.

Dogs also pant as a way to calm themselves down if they are stressed or anxious. This type of panting is categorized as behavioral panting, as it serves no other purpose than to try and calm the dog down. Typically, this is accommodated by other signs that your dog is fearful about something. Other signs of anxiety in dogs include yawning, pacing, whining, shaking, and actively hiding from a situation. Common examples of this might be during a celebration where there are fireworks or in the car on the way to the vet. Your dog might try to hide, might begin whining and shaking, and will likely begin panting out of fear. It is not quite understood why panting seems to be a response to stress and fear, but it is well-documented as a common sign of it.

Another one of the more common reasons why dogs pant is because of pain. Dogs are well known for being good at hiding their pain, and panting can be one of the few signs of discomfort that your dog will let you see. If your dog is panting due to being in pain, it will often be at strange hours of the day, unaccompanied by any other problems (except problems relating to the cause of the pain). For example, if your dog begins panting in the middle of a cool, clear, and quiet night when it is usually sleeping, there’s a good chance that your dog is panting out of pain.

These are the three biggest reasons why your dog might be panting. Most of the other reasons involve health conditions or environmental factors that can affect the way your dog is feeling.

What Makes a Dog Pant?

Now that you understand a little bit more about why dogs pant, you might begin to wonder what kinds of situations will cause a dog to start panting. These situations can be divided by the type of panting that your dog is experiencing.

If your dog is panting because they are cooling themselves off, then the cause is usually pretty straightforward. It might be hot outside, your dog may have burned a lot of calories through exercising, or it could be a combination of the two. Generally, the hotter it is outside, the quicker your dog will begin to pant when you are taking it on a walk and exercising.

If your dog is panting as a reaction to fear and anxiety, there are plenty of causes to consider. If you believe that your dog is panting because of stress, you should look for any other stress-induced behaviors that dogs commonly exhibit. This will help you determine if stress really is the cause of your dog’s panting.

Thunderstorms, firecrackers, and similar loud and continuous noises are an excellent reason why your dog might be showing signs of fear. Stressful situations, such as having movers in your home, going to the vet, or car rides in general can also send your dog into a panting fit. If your dog is prone to separation anxiety, then it could begin panting shortly after you leave it alone in the house.

Lastly, your dog might be panting because of its health. This can be caused by pain, or it could be due to a health condition. Heart and lung problems can cause a dog to pant not because of pain, but because your dog is having trouble breathing and panting helps to take more air in. You can think of it as being similar to hyperventilation in this situation. Some dogs are prone to health conditions that include increased panting as a symptom. The most common conditions include laryngeal paralysis and Cushing’s disease.

How Much Panting Is Too Much?

One of the largest problems that people have with their dogs’ health is determining when panting becomes too much. All dogs pant, as it is their primary method of cooling themselves off, therefore, you should always expect some degree of panting when you choose to adopt a dog.

It can be difficult to draw the line between typical panting in a dog and abnormal panting. Thankfully, there are a few different signs that you can look for that will indicate that your dog’s panting is a sign of something more. You should have a good idea of how much your dog normally pants, and you should use this as a comparison when you are determining if your dog is panting too much.

If your dog’s panting happens more often than it should, or seems to be faster than normal, then this might be a sign that your dog’s panting is a sign of something more troublesome. Similarly, if your dog’s panting is raspy, particularly loud, or especially heavy, then this can be a sign that it is taking more effort for your dog to pant, which is a sign that there is something else going on.

If it is visibly taking your dog more energy to pant, then this is also a problematic sign. As most people can expect, if your dog is panting with seemingly no other indication of being hot or scared, then there’s a good chance that your dog is panting from pain, and no pet owner wants this to happen to their dog. These are all signs that you should be taking your dog to the vet.

What Can Panting Be a Sign of?

Regular panting is often a sign of either exertion or fear, depending on the situation at hand. If you just came back from a walk on the hottest day of the year and your dog is panting, then you shouldn’t be too concerned about it as long as it goes away once your dog cools down.

Likewise, if there are fireworks nearby and your dog starts panting and exhibiting other signs of fear, then you can expect that the panting will go away as soon as your dog has calmed down. These are all signs of normal panting, and nothing that you should devote too much time to.

Excessive panting, on the other hand, can be a sign of a few different problems. Inappropriate panting is often a sign of pain in dogs, and it is one of the only signs of pain that most dogs will give, so you should take it seriously when you notice it. Excessive panting can also be a sign of either heart or lung disorders. When the heart or lungs don’t work as they should, then your dog will compensate for that by breathing heavier or faster. For dogs, this shows up as panting. Excessive panting can also be a sign of a disease known as Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s disease is a problem with the production of cortisol, a hormone that affects all aspects of the body, including the lungs.

Finally, panting can be a sign of laryngeal paralysis. This is seen in older dogs as well as other breeds. It can make it harder for your dog to breathe properly, causing your dog to pant to get better airflow.