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Why Do Dogs Pant? + How to Know If It's Too Much | Pupford

January 3rd, 2024

Filed under Health + Wellness

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If you look at our Instagram account on a #TongueOutTuesday, you know we love a good puppy tongue! But sometimes we get to see those floppy little tongues when our dog is panting, leaving us wondering, why do dogs pant?!

And it raises other thoughts like if we should be concerned, or why they’re doing that, or if they’re panting too much.

We get asked about this topic a lot, so we thought we’d dive into it a bit and answer some frequently asked questions.

Here's what we will cover:

  • Why Do Dogs Pant?
  • How Do I Know if My Dog is Panting Too Much?
  • Is Panting A Sign of Anxiety or Stress?
  • Do Dogs Pant More When They Get Older?

Now let’s get right to it, starting with 👇

Why Do Dogs Pant?

husky-dog-panting-near-a-forest | Pupford

In short, panting is how dogs regulate their body temperature. Our dogs can’t sweat through their skin as we can, so they have to rely on pushing cool air through their upper airway to cool their whole body.

It makes sense that there are so many questions around dog panting since there are a number of scenarios where it happens.

Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons dogs pant:

  • Breed
  • Exertion
  • Heatstroke
  • Toxic or allergic reaction
  • Illness or disease

Let's look at each one below. 👇

Related Reading: Dog First Aid Basics, Kits & Courses

Breed

Some breeds like pugs and bulldogs pant more because of their short snouts.

It makes breathing a little easier for them, especially when they are active.

Exertion

You might notice your dog pants after exercise or when they play (just how you and I sweat more when exercising).

Typically they’ll just need a break and to drink some cool water to stop.

Heatstroke

If your dog is out in the heat or sun, it could cause them to pant in an attempt to regulate their body temperature.

It’s best to avoid long exposure to hot temperatures, but in this case, panting will subside when they cool down.

NOTE: If you think your dog is experiencing severe heatstroke, a reaction, or an illness, please contact your veterinarian immediately!!!

Toxic or Allergic Reaction

If your dog ingests toxic household cleaners or pesticides, panting may be the first sign of a bad reaction.

If this happens, get in contact with your vet or poison control immediately!

Illness or Disease

Some conditions can cause panting, like arthritis, heart disease, laryngeal paralysis, obesity, Cushing's disease, and more.

Most of the time though, panting is natural, normal, and nothing to worry about, so don't freak out when your dog pants after reading that line above!

However, it could be a sign that your dog is uncomfortable because of an underlying condition, especially if the panting seems to increase for what seems like no reason.

It’s important to know when panting is abnormal so you can address the situation quickly.

That brings us to our next question ⤵️

🐶 Enroll in our Dog First Aid Course to learn all about caring for injuries, CPR, and more. Sign up here! 🐶

How Do I Know if My Dog is Panting Too Much?

pug-dog-panting | Pupford

While it’s perfectly normal for your dog to pant after an intense round of fetch or a walk on a summer day, there are a few situations where excessive panting may not be normal 👇

Panting Indoors

If you’re inside your home at a comfortable temperature with your dog and aren’t playing an indoor game, panting can be a sign of discomfort.

Of course, some dogs will pant for a short period of time, but if it's prolonged panting while indoors and resting, that can be a sign of problems.

Panting at Rest

Similarly, if your dog wakes up in the middle of the night panting, or begins panting without physical activity, this would be considered excessive panting.

Panting With a Cough and Other Mouth Abnormalities

If your dog is coughing, hacking, or having difficulty breathing, panting may be an attempt to regulate the respiratory system because of a serious condition.

Also, panting with sticky saliva, bright red tongue, or dry or tacky gums can be bad. Those are often signs of severe dehydration in dogs.

Basically, if you wouldn’t find yourself sweating if you were in your dog’s position, panting can be considered abnormal.

Related Reading: 10 Signs a Dog is in Pain

Is Panting A Sign of Anxiety or Stress?

white-dog-panting-from-stress | Pupford

You’ve probably noticed that we haven’t mentioned anything about anxiety or stress yet, and that’s on purpose. This is such a commonly asked question that it deserves to be addressed in its own section.

Dogs can show stress or anxiety in a number of ways, one of those being panting.

When your dog is distressed, they release an excess of a hormone called cortisol. High cortisol levels can cause panting, among other things.

To find out if your dog is panting from stress, pain, or anxiety, pay attention to the surroundings when they show that behavior.

If you notice panting when there are thunderstorms, fireworks, other loud noises, sudden movements, or your dog is adjusting to a new family member or house, stress is likely the cause.

Related Reading: Dogs & Fireworks Guide

If you’re expecting a baby (congrats!!) and are worried that bringing home your little bundle of joy will make your furry bundle of joy anxious, there are things you can do! Read this article with 7 tips on how to introduce a dog to a baby.

If that’s the case for your dog, you can ask your vet or animal behaviorist for ways to minimize stress and anxiety.

🐶 Enroll in our Dog First Aid Course to learn all about caring for injuries, CPR, and more. Sign up here! 🐶

Why Do Old Dogs Pant More As They Age?

senior-retriever-dog-panting | Pupford

If you have a senior dog, you might notice that they tend to pant a little more than their puppy counterparts. Given the reasons why dogs pant, this makes sense.

As dogs get older they tend to get overheated more easily and have less stamina than when they were younger. So naturally, they’ll need to regulate their body temperature more than a younger dog would.

But it’s important to pay special attention to panting in older dogs.

They are more prone to the serious medical conditions we discussed earlier -- remember, panting is typically the first sign of discomfort.

Older dogs are also more prone to nervousness and anxiety because their senses lessen as they age.

Here’s an article with more information and tips about caring for our senior dogs.

Why Do Dogs Pant Recap

a dog panting because they're hot | Pupford

Remember, if your dog is cool, resting, and has plenty of water yet is still panting, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

But in most cases, panting is a completely normal thing that dogs do!

Hopefully, that answered your questions about dog panting.

Have any other questions we didn’t address? Drop them in the comments below!

And if you're looking to learn more about your dog's health and safety, be sure to sign up for our online Dog First Aid course. Get started here!

🐶 Enroll in our Dog First Aid Course to learn all about caring for injuries, CPR, and more. Sign up here! 🐶 

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