Why Do Dogs Pant So Much? Recognizing Your Pup's Heavy Breathing

Ritwik Bhuyan
Jan 24, 2024 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Oct 27, 2021
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Border collie playing with dog run.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

A dog's panting is as normal as a dog sleeping.

And who does not like their beloved dog happily hanging the pink tongue out of the mouth after a tiring day or running around in the park? After all, it's adorable!

Dogs pant all the time, however, if your dog is panting more along with the onset of other symptoms, it can be a sign of something serious. This needs to be taken care of and if the condition persists, take your dog to the vet immediately. Panting in dogs is characterized by rapid, shallow breathing added with a big tongue protruding from the mouth. A dog panting is usually due to the hot weather and the dog trying to cool itself down. It is very common and normal and there is nothing malicious in it. However, keep a lookout for any other behavior and symptoms along with the dog panting as it might be something serious.

Heavy panting in dogs can bring about other illnesses or some kind of disease and you as an owner need to look out for any change in the body language. Dogs are not known to sweat, so they need to let out the body heat generated after a hot day of play by panting a lot. Dogs are not like us humans and don't have the luxury to sweat with their skin. So when a dog gets too hot, you will see the dog panting. It is quite normal. A dog's panting is followed by shallow breathing which actually speeds up the evaporation of water from the dog's tongue along with the inside of the mouth and the respiratory tract. The evaporation of water helps the dog make the body temperature normal. Dogs have sweat glands underneath the paw pads and within the ears, but they are not enough to regulate a dog's body temperature.

Pet care is important, so do keep a close eye on the abnormal panting of your pet dog, as it might be time to call your vet or visit the veterinarian clinic near you. The normal respiratory rate for resting dogs is around 15-30 inhalations and exhalations in a minute. It might be different for your pet dog, so remember to keep track of your dog's breathing to get a good idea for the future. It is best to get the breathing count when the dog is sleeping or resting. You can judge the abnormal nature of the breathing pattern by looking into the following - checking if the rate of breathing is higher than normal, heavy panting without exercise or a need to cool off, louder excessive panting, and more pressure while panting.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about why do dogs lick themselves and why do dogs lick wounds here on Kidadl!

Common Reasons Why Dogs Pant

Dogs panting is quite common and here are five different common causes why a dog may pant.

To cool off on a hot day. Even when the dogs are not feeling the heat from inside, dogs will pant after a day of exercise. A dog panting is a way for the animal to cool themselves as a dog cannot sweat through the skin as humans do. Dogs do sweat near the ears and through the paws, but this is not enough to cool themselves on a hot day. This is why a dog may open its mouth, stick out the tongue, and pant to cool. It allows cooler air to enter and heat to be released by opening the dog's mouth.

This is not very efficient and this is why your pet dog will pant to get the heat out. The hotter the temperature inside the dog's body becomes, the more the dog will start panting heavily. Along with this heavy panting, you might see symptoms like bright red tongue and gum, weakness, wide eyes, and the dog's tongue being elongated. Minimize the exposure to heat in these circumstances and give cold water to the dog as soon as possible. If the problem persists, call your vet or take the dog to the vet. This is also called a heatstroke.

Excitement can also lead to panting in dogs. Fear, stress, and anxiety can make your pet dog pant a lot and this does not necessarily mean the dog is hot. If the dog is known to be in a situation of fear, it is best to remove the pet as soon as you can. A dog panting may also be seen when the dog is playing. But this panting will be of a happy kind, with bright eyes and a relaxed face. Once playtime is over, the stress exerted will subside and the excessive panting and heavy breathing will eventually come to an end.

Excessive panting in dogs can also be seen when your pet dog is in pain. Dogs are actually very good at hiding pain and illnesses. But when this pain and discomfort reaches a level that could really hurt your dog, symptoms like panting can be seen. There will be other related symptoms too along with the dog's respiratory illnesses, so you could look for it and take the dog to a veterinarian. A veterinarian will be able to properly diagnose the related issues and cure your dog's pain, which could never be possible without the help of a vet.

Cushing's disease is caused when the adrenal glands release too much cortisol. You will need a vet to cure this disease. Other diseases like heart failure can also cause panting. Heart failure occurs when the heart is doing an inadequate job of pumping blood into the body. Laryngeal paralysis occurs when the openings fail to open normally which creates a restricted flow of oxygen in the body.

How does the breed, age, and size affect dog panting?

All dogs pant, while some might pant a little more. At different ages, dog breeds might change the intensities of panting.

Older dogs cannot stay so energetic as they age. They cannot run as fast they could earlier, neither can they play as much. As dogs age, the panting will increase too as they become prone to many medical conditions, anxiety, heatstroke, oxygen deprivation, less blood flow, and heart failure. Congestive heart failure results in too much panting as the blood stops or slows down in the body.

Heatstroke is more common in older dogs when out in the open for long devoid of water. Panting due to heatstroke is quite excessive. Obesity in older dogs can also cause panting. The size and breed don't matter as panting is common in all and it is not necessarily a bad sign unless excessive. If your dogs' panting at night, it can be anxiety and you should take the dog to the vet without delay. It generally happens to puppies due to separation anxiety.

Golden Retriever Wagging Tail.

How do I know if my dog is panting too much?

There are a few ways by which you can determine if your dog is panting more than normal.

Panting is considered abnormal when any of the following signs are seen: know your dog's normal breathing pattern and compare it with the pattern seen currently. Check if the breathing has increased. If it has, your dog is panting too much. Check if the panting of the dog sounds harsher or louder. Heavy panting is seen when the dog is not even warm. The dog needs more pressure and gets tired easily.

What to do if your dog is panting too heavily?

If you feel like something is wrong, take these necessary steps: cool the dog with cold water with the help of a hose and take him inside. Give them water and switch on the air conditioner.

If the panting is accompanied by other symptoms, you cannot do anything yourself. Instead, call the vet immediately. The doctor might need to run some tests. You will know your dog's usual behavior best, so if you see anything out of the ordinary, take the steps to help your dog.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do dogs pant so much, then why not take a look at why do dogs shake or what are non-alphanumeric characters.

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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