As we start seeing the sun more and temperatures warm up, there’s no doubt that you may notice your dog panting a little more often. It’s a natural process that helps to cool their body. However, not all panting is normal. As veterinarians, we want to check out dogs that are panting when resting as it could be an indication of something more serious. In this article, I will explain the top causes and when something needs to be done to help your dog. Additionally, if your dog is a senior dog, you can also read our article about Senior Dogs Panting Excessively.
When is Panting in Dogs a Normal Occurrence?
Fortunately for people, we have a fairly efficient way of cooling-sweating. When our body gets too hot, it starts to release water and other products that then evaporate on our skin, cooling down our temps.
Panting is a dog’s way of cooling themselves. They aren’t able to sweat the way we can to cool down when they start to get hot. Instead, they start to increase their respiration as a way of getting a similar type of evaporation from the moisture in their mouth, nose, and lungs. It also allows them to replace the hot air from their lungs with this cooler air. This helps to cool their bodies from the inside out. In general, the hotter the dog, the faster the panting.
What Could Cause Panting in Dogs When Resting?
Seeing your dog pant during a run or after a long walk in the sunshine is a pretty normal occurrence. You probably even expect it. What you may not expect is to catch your dog panting when they are resting or relaxed. We already hit on the most common reason that a dog may pant (to cool off), but what could be causing panting during resting?
1. Cooling Off
I’m not here to repeat what I already told you, as we already went through the mechanics of panting as a cooling mechanism, I just want to reiterate that panting while resting could still be due to heat. It’s more common to see a dog panting after some activity, but when temperatures are really high, dogs may pant even when relaxed. So, how hot is too hot? That’s going to depend on each dog since haircoat, body condition and overall heat tolerance play a role. But for a general idea, consider 90 degrees to be a good number where you may see panting while resting. Keep in mind that high humidity may make that number a lot lower.
If you notice your dog panting while resting and it’s overly hot, get them somewhere cooler. Move them to the shade or inside near a cooling unit. Provide them with lots of fresh, cool water, and see if the panting decreases. If your pup starts to overheat, despite their panting, you may notice drooling, vomiting, red gums, disorientation and weakness. This may indicate heat stroke and it can be very serious, start slowing cooling your dog off with cool compresses and contact your veterinarian.
Most dogs don’t like to show pain, but they can’t keep themselves from showing some of the signs of discomfort, including panting. Chronic pain, such as from arthritis, or acute pain, such as from an illness or injury, may all show up with panting. You may also notice lameness, not eating, vomiting, diarrhea, or unwillingness to do normal activities. If you think your dog is in pain, see your veterinarian to find out why and to get them treated.
WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]
Meeting new people or animals, you coming home from work, getting ready for a walk, or knowing it’s nearly time for dinner can get a dog pretty excited. A lot of dogs will show this excitement by barking, jumping around, or shaking. Some may show it as panting, even if the rest of their body is at rest. It’s a way of getting that excited energy out without the usual display of jubilation.
You may be able to recognize this type of panting by noticing what is going on around your dog while they’re doing it. It may happen at the same time every day, such as at mealtime or when you get home. Of course, this doesn’t require any treatment because who would want to decrease a dog’s display of happiness?
Similar to excitement, stress or anxiety can cause a dog to pant when their body is otherwise at rest. Dogs can become stressed or anxious by some of the same things that humans can and over some things that may surprise you. Changes in their environment, the death of a companion, loud noises, or health issues may all cause stress and therefore panting when at rest.
Other signs of stress include pacing, whining, not eating or eating too much, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, and changes in behavior like becoming aggressive or wanting to seclude themselves. If possible, remove the stressful things from your dog’s life or help them reduce their stress through exercise or modifying their environment to make it more tolerable. Occasionally, some dogs may need medication to help reduce stress and anxiety levels.
5. Health Conditions
There are few health issues that can cause a dog to pant when resting. A fever that increases a dog’s body temperature can cause panting as a way of trying to cool them down. Respiratory illnesses that make it difficult to breathe may cause panting because the body is trying to increase its oxygen intake. Medications to treat other illnesses may cause panting as a side effect.
Any of these health conditions may come with other signs that vary based on the cause. If you notice an increase in your dog’s panting, especially when resting, be sure to contact your veterinarian.
What to Do When Your Dog Pants While Resting
Some dogs just pant more than others, so first thing you want to do is find out what is normal for your particular pooch. If you do notice that your dog is panting more than usual, try to find out why.
If your pup is hot, get them to a cooler spot. Offer lots of fresh, cool water, and move them to the shade or inside. Don’t let your dog outside during the high heat of the day and consider getting a kiddie pool where they can cool off during other times of the day.
If you’re noticing other signs, such as vomiting, diarrhea, not eating, lameness, or lethargy, see your vet. Your dog may be in pain or have an illness that is causing discomfort. They may be running a fever due to an infection.
Try to notice if something is causing your dog stress or anxiety. Removing the stressor is always best but not always a possibility. Instead, you can help your dog cope with the stress by giving them a quiet, safe spot to go, giving them lots of one-on-one attention, and being sure they’re getting enough exercise and mental stimulation.
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
Signs That Your Dog Needs to See the Vet
Even though panting and dogs go hand-in-hand, not all panting should go unchecked. If you’re noticing an uptick in panting when your dog is resting, watch them for other signs that they may be in pain or that they have an illness. If you see any vomiting, diarrhea, not eating, or lethargy, contact your veterinarian. Lameness or not wanting to do normal activities should also warrant a vet visit.
Any changes in your dog’s behavior like extra clinginess, aggression or seclusion along with the increase in panting could indicate that your is stress or anxious. If you can’t figure out what is causing your dog’s stress or can’t seem to reduce it, see your veterinarian. Some dogs require medications to help make them more comfortable and reduce their panting when at rest.
Panting can be an effective cooling mechanism as long as temps aren’t too high or too humid and your dog isn’t overly active. Watch your dog for excessive panting, especially when resting, as a sign of heat stroke. Red gums, drooling, disorientation, and weakness are other signs. Contact your veterinarian immediately to help you start the cooling off process and to make sure no permanent damage is done.
Will a Vet be Able to Help a Dog Panting When Resting Over a Video Call?
A video call may be a good option for a dog that is panting when resting as long as they aren’t too distressed or showing any other signs. If you suspect that your pup is a little stressed or anxious, a video call may be a good way to chat with your vet about possible causes without further exacerbating their stress with an office visit.
On the other hand, if your dog is overheating, in pain, or sick, an office visit is the best option so that your vet can get their hands on your dog and run any diagnostic tests that they need done.
How Will a Vet Handle a Dog Panting When Resting?
Your vet is going to want some information from you about your dog panting when resting. They’ll want to know when the panting started, if anything makes it better or worse, and if you’ve noticed any other signs.
From there, they will take a look at your pup, listen to heart and lungs, take their temperature, check for lameness or pain, and give them a good overall looksee. Depending on what they find and the information you gave, additional diagnostics may be done. Bloodwork to check organ function, x-rays to assess lameness or joints, or ultrasound may all be done.
The final step is treatment. Illnesses may require medications, fluids, and even hospitalization. Lameness may require anti-inflammatories, splinting, casting, or surgery. Heat stroke may need medications, fluids, and other treatments. Anxiety and stress may require medications.
As you can see, there is a huge variation in possible treatments. As expected, there is a huge variation in the costs to cover these. For minor illnesses, lameness, or anxiety, the exam and medications may cost $50-$200. More serious issues may cost $200-$1,000, especially if hospitalization is required. Surgery for an injured leg or foreign body causing stomach pain may cost $2000+.
Should I be worried when my dog pants while relaxing?
Panting is very normal in dogs, it can even be normal when a dog is resting or relaxing. If your pup just got back from a run or temps are a little higher than they’re used to, their panting might be just working to cool them down. If it’s been a while since they’ve been up and at ‘em or they are showing any other signs such as discomfort or distress, you’re probably better off seeing the vet.
Can I take my dog for a walk when the situation occurs? How much exercising or walking is ok?
If your dog is just panting and not having any other issues and they haven’t had any problems previously, walking can be a great way of reducing some of their stress and relieving some anxiety. If you notice they are having difficulty breathing during the walk, stop exercising and consult your veterinarian.
Be the first to comment