Dogs pant because of their physiological need to be cool. All animals, including humans, have the same four purposes for panting; to release heat from the lungs and body, to avoid suffocation or asphyxiation by allowing air into the lungs while breathing in cool air or oxygen, reduce inflammation from high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood (a by-product of respiration), and assist with cooling blood after a vigorous activity.”
Is it a Normal Behaviour?
Panting is a very normal behaviour for dogs to stay cool when they are hot. Since their ability to sweat is limited, panting works wonders for them. But aside from the obvious fact that dogs are always hot and looking for a way to cool off, what science has shown us is that domesticated dogs have been bred to be more prone to “doggie breath.”
The reasons behind this unfortunate genetic defect (a sad consequence of the selective breeding we find in our beloved pets) are two-fold. First, small-breed canines have less muscle mass than large-breed canines. These smaller canines have a lower capacity for respiration and therefore need to pant more frequently than their larger/heavier cousins. Second, some breeds (and hybrids) of dogs are less tolerant of high temperatures and will “overheat” at much lower temperatures than other breeds. These breeds include cocker spaniels, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, Shih Tzu’s, and Pomeranians. Smaller dogs are generally more tolerant of heat and will be better able to handle temperature extremes. This explains why Chihuahuas and Pomeranians tend to pant more than most other dogs.
If you think your dog is excessively panting, it is not unusual for them to be overheating. If the dog’s panting occurs while the temperature is below 27°C, then you may suggest that he gets some rest in a shaded area. Monitor his energy level and if he shows signs of weakness (lethargic) or discomfort, get him out of the heat and into a cool area immediately. If the dog is panting but active, it is generally safe to assume that the panting is a normal response to heat. It is best to under your dog behaviours in order to respond to the correct course of actions in order to prevent any potential dangers.
Common Reasons for Panting
To Cool Off
When you’re hot, doesn’t your body sweat as a way to cool itself down? Dogs cool themselves off the same way. The heat travels throughout their bodies and eventually out of their mouths and nostrils. In this situation, panting is a good thing.
A stressful event
It may not be as common for dogs to pant when they’re happy or excited, but it can certainly happen. However, it can also happen, when dogs are experiencing high levels of stress or suffering from anxiety, they may pant very quickly and take in extra-large breaths.
Excessive panting is a sign of a dog being overheated by the hot weather. As with humans, when dogs get too hot, they can suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Dogs who are panting excessively in the summer will benefit from walks or runs in cooler temperatures and should be allowed to rest in the shade whenever possible.
When dogs run and exercise, they get hot. This is a result of the increased respiration rate to keep their bodies working properly. They’ll also breathe out carbon dioxide in order to cool down. Since there’s no way for them to sweat like humans, panting is necessary in these situations as well. If your dog is panting excessively, it may be because he’s worked himself too hard or is simply too hot.
Too much physical exertion
Just as with humans, dogs need to regulate their breathing for physical activity. Dogs that are running, playing, or some other form of exercise will pant excessively in order to catch their breath during those activities. If you see your pooch panting after they’ve been exercising, don’t worry too much about it. It’s common and they should be back to normal within a few minutes.
Pain or injury
Dogs experience pain just like humans do. When they’re hurt, they may pant in an attempt to alleviate the pain. If your dog is yelping, in any amount of pain, or just doesn’t seem to be himself, it’s a good idea to take him to the veterinarian right away. It’s possible that your dog has sustained an injury and might even require surgery in order to recover fully. Either that or he’s not feeling well for some other reason.
Did you know that it’s possible for dogs to suffer from obesity just like humans? If your dog has been eating too much and gaining weight, he may be forced to pant in order to stay cool. When dogs eat too much or gain too much weight, they can overheat very easily. Overeating is a common problem for overweight or obese dogs so it’s important to make sure your dog is staying fit and maintaining a healthy diet.
Excess panting is not only a symptom of overheating, illness, or injury in dogs. It’s also a sign of stress or other emotional issues. If your dog is panting excessively and you’re wondering why, it may be important to have them checked by a veterinarian just in case there’s something causing them to feel anxious or stressed out. If your dog does suffer from any of these conditions (or another illness), the excessive panting will typically go away once the issue has been resolved.
If you’re still concerned about the excessive panting in your dog, talk to your veterinarian and they can recommend some methods for reducing the panting or possibly rule out some causes of concern. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health or excessive panting, please contact us today!
Keep in mind that some dogs naturally breathe heavily when they are excited. You may notice that your dog pants excessively while playing with other dogs or dogs their own size, when chasing after toys, and when resting comfortably.