Useful info about dogs:

Why does my dog pant?

During 50 years of owning and loving dogs, Carole Curtis has unearthed
some enlightening facts about why dogs pant heavily


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Heavy panting? Check this out. Your best friend just may be
in serious trouble

why do dogs pant

It's normal for dogs to pant, especially when they're hot, excited, or energetic.

But heavy panting is different. It may be a sign your dog is dangerously overheated, coping with a chronic health problem, or has just experienced a life-threatening trauma.

Here are the answers
to three important questions every dog owner should know:

  • What are the common causes of heavy panting in dogs?
  • What can I do about them?
  • When is it time to see the vet?

Why dogs pant heavily

Panting helps dogs cool off when they’re hot or engaged in vigorous exercise. Dogs take between ten and thirty breaths a minute, depending on their size. Get to know what your dog’s everyday breathing and panting looks and sounds like. This way you’ll notice any suspicious changes straight away, and be able to get him or her to your vet quickly.

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Common causes why dogs pant heavily

why do dogs pant

Some dogs, like Boston terriers, bulldogs, and pugs, are prone to heavier breathing than other breeds, simply because of their short snouts.

Chronic illness are a leading cause of heavy breathing or panting, and the main ones are:

  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Cushing's syndrome

Heavy panting is also a sign a dog may have consumed a toxic substance or be suffering from heatstroke. If you can’t find any obvious reason for a sudden change in your dog’s breathing, take him or her to your vet immediately.

Caution, if you suspect heatstroke, first follow the steps at the end of this article to help cool your dog quickly and safely.

Heart failure

Like people, dogs can suffer from heart failure. And just like people, dogs may show some of the same symptoms, including breathing difficulty, reduced exercise tolerance, and coughing. How your dog's heart failure is treated depends on the cause. Treatment may include medications such as, ACE inhibitors (pharmaceutical drugs used primarily for the treatment of hypertension commonly called elevated blood pressure), and diuretics.

Respiratory disorders

Several respiratory disorders, such as laryngeal paralysis, pneumonia, and lung tumors, may all lead to heavy breathing or panting. Treatment depends on the condition and how far it has progressed

Injury and pain. Dogs can't tell us with words when they’re in pain. So, it's up to us to know what to look for. Heavy panting is one sign your dog may have suffered an injury.

Other signs of pain or trauma in pets include enlarged pupils, reduced appetite, a reluctance to lie down, restlessness, anxiety, and licking or biting at the pain site.

Dogs may mask their pain with normal behaviors, such as wagging their tail. And an injury may be internal - for example, as a result of being hit by a car. So if you suspect your pet may be in pain, don’t delay. Seek vet care right away.

Cushing's syndrome

This occurs when a dog's adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. Along with heavy panting, symptoms can include excessive hunger and thirst, hair loss, and a pot-bellied appearance. Treatment varies but may include adrenal-suppressing drugs or surgery.


Some medications, such as prednisone, may also lead to heavy panting in dogs. Talk to your vet if you think your dog's medication is causing heavy panting.

Other causes of heavy panting in dogs

Heavy breathing or deep, intense panting can also be a symptom of:

  • Eclampsia also called milk fever
  • Allergies
  • Infection or irritation within the airways can cause wheezy, noisy breathing in dogs
  • Poisoning, your pet may have swallowed a toxic substance

No matter what kind of breathing your dog usually has, any unexplained change, whether heavy panting, coughing, or wheezing always rates an immediat4 call to your vet.

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Heatstroke and your dog - emergency response

why do dogs pant

Overheating is a medical emergency - and one of the most serious reasons for heavy panting in dogs. If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, a quick response can be lifesaving.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Glassy eyes
  • Weakness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • A body temperature over 104 F.

If you think your dog may have heatstroke, here’s what to do to help:

  • Move him or her dog inside or to a shady spot
  • Submerge your dog in cool water (avoid cold water, which constricts blood vessels) or apply ice packs or cold towels to your dog’s chest, neck, and head
  • Give your dog cool, not cold, water, or give him an ice cube to lick.
  • After you’ve started cooling your dog down, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Caution, don’t spray your dog with a yard hose - on hot days the water inside a hose can reach near boiling temperatures.

The best way to manage heatstroke is to avoid it. Never leave your pet in a parked car. It’s better to leave your pet at home than to risk him or her getting heatstroke. At home, be sure to provide all pets with shade and water or a way to get inside during the hottest part of the day.

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When to see a vet

why do dogs pant

Remember, panting is normal for a dog after exercise, excitement, or when it's hot. Call your vet immediately if any of the following signs or symptons occur:

  • Your dog’s panting starts suddenly
  • You think your dog may be in pain
  • The panting is constant and intense
  • Your dog's tongue or gums appear blue or white - both signs your pet isn't getting enough oxygen.

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This article and information forms part of the Carole's Doggie World Library and is presented for informational purposes only and not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information researched and written by Carole Curtis for


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Your dogs suffer in silence because they cant tell you about . . .
their painful teeth    |     their flea problems    |     or their allergies

Follow these links and soak up the free information to gain a happier, healthier dog who thinks you are the best person on the planet!

Copyright © 2015 Carole Curtis

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