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Excessive Panting in Dogs - Causes & When To Be Concerned

Your dog isn't running or playing, yet you observe them panting heavily. Why is this happening? Today, our Grants Pass vets will discuss the reasons for excessive panting in dogs and when to be concerned.

Excessive Panting in Dogs

You must understand your dog's healthy breathing pattern to you identify abnormal breathing or excessive panting in your dog. A healthy dog typically breathes at a rate of 15 to 35 breaths per minute while resting.

It's important to note that dogs naturally breathe more heavily and pant when they are exercising. Therefore, any breathing rate exceeding 40 breaths per minute while your dog is at rest is considered abnormal and requires investigation.

It's crucial to understand that panting serves various functions for your furry friend, such as cooling themselves down, regulating body temperature, and facilitating the evaporation of heat and moisture from their mouth, tongue, and upper respiratory tract.

How does panting work to cool your dog?

We may watch our dogs pant after exercising, or grow concerned if they start to pant in other circumstances. But what is the scientific explanation behind what’s happening with our four-legged friend’s breathing?

Unlike humans, dogs cannot sweat to cool off; instead, they rely on increased breathing to circulate air within their bodies.

Panting is a vital mechanism that helps your four-legged companion return their body temperature to normal.

Your pet then inhales cooler air. Both exhalation and inhalation, in conjunction with the evaporation of heated saliva, gradually reduce your dog's internal temperature.

Is your dog panting normally?

To determine if your dog is panting heavily, count your dog's breaths for one minute while they rest or sleep. You can also establish your dog's regular respiratory rate when they are calm and not in distress.

An average respiratory rate falls below 30 breaths per minute. If it exceeds 35 breaths per minute, we recommend contacting your veterinarian. Based on previous examinations, your vet will have a baseline understanding of your dog's typical respiratory rate.

Why is my dog panting so heavily?

Brachycephalic dog breeds, like Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs, have a heightened susceptibility to developing breathing issues. Pet owners should vigilantly monitor them for signs of increased respiratory effort.

However, it's not just short-nosed breeds that can encounter breathing difficulties. Excessive panting frequently occurs in older dogs.

Nonetheless, regardless of age or breed, any dog might suddenly exhibit rapid panting or heavy breathing. This could indicate an underlying illness or injury demanding immediate veterinary attention. Potential causes of rapid panting or heavy breathing in dogs include:

  • Exercise
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Asthma
  • Kennel cough
  • Stiffening of airways
  • Windpipe issues
  • Pressure on windpipe
  • Fungal respiratory infection
  • Bacterial respiratory infection
  • Lung Diseases such as cancer
  • Laryngeal Paralysis
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Medication
  • Breed Characteristics
  • Heat Stroke
  • Parasites
  • Compressed Lungs
  • Hernia
  • Anemia
  • Pneumonia
  • Collapsing Windpipe

When should I be concerned about my dog's panting?

If you see your dog excessively panting when resting or breathing heavily while sleeping, they may be experiencing respiratory distress. If you notice see your pup exhibiting any of the following signs, the first thing you should do is call your vet immediately; they will inform you of the steps you should take until you reach the animal hospital.

  • Heavy, fast breathing that's louder or different sounding than normal panting
  • Their panting starts suddenly
  • Open-mouthed breathing while at rest
  • Reluctance to drink, eat, or move
  • Pale, blue-tinged, or brick-red gums
  • Out-of-character drooling
  • Noticeably labored breathing (engaging stomach muscles to help breathe)

How can I Find Out why my dog is panting?

To determine why your dog is panting excessively, we recommend bringing them in to see our vets at Lincoln Road Veterinary Clinic.

A veterinarian can perform a thorough physical examination to identify the issue and check for indications of underlying health concerns,, These may include problems with the heart, circulatory system, lungs, airway, neck, head, or any other areas. It's essential to consider your pup's overall health as a potential factor in this issue.

To assist your vet in making an accurate diagnosis, please provide information about any previous medical issues your dog has experienced. Additionally, the vet may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check for heart, lung, or abdominal issues like lung tumors or broken ribs.

In addition to physical concerns, your veterinarian will also assess your dog for signs of anxiety, stress, or other psychological factors that might be causing rapid breathing.

How can I help my dog if they are panting excessively?

The underlying cause of the issue determines the treatment for heavy panting in dogs. Your vet might prescribe pain relief, intravenous fluids, or other medications to help restore your dog to good health.

If your pup's heavy breathing is the result of anxiety or stress, your vet may recommend special training with a certified dog behaviorist.

Rest and oxygen therapy will likely be needed to start your dog along the road to healing. While most dogs will be well enough to be treated at home, in some severe cases, hospitalization may be required to monitor the dog's breathing and to treat the underlying health condition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned about your dog's excessive panting or fast breathing? Contact Lincoln Road Veterinary Clinic today to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians.

Specialty Vets at Lincoln Road Veterinary Clinic

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