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Why Does My Dog Pant?

Wondering why your dog is panting?  The truth is, dogs pant for a number of reasons.

panting dog

Cooling Off

Just like humans, dogs must regulate their body temperature to remain healthy.  The most common reason they pant is that they are trying to cool themselves.  Dogs do not sweat like humans, so the only way they can attempt to cool themselves is to pant.  This is an attempt to bring in cooler air and breathe out the warmer air.  Especially in warmer climates or in summer months, be aware of your dog panting, drooling, staggering, or vomiting as those are signs of heat stroke because the air they are inhaling is as warm as the air they are exhaling so they cannot effectively cool themselves.  Breeds that are brachiocephalic (smooched faces), overweight dogs, and older dogs are  most susceptible.

Anxiety

Sometimes when a dog is anxious they will pant in an attempt to calm themselves.  Panting can be as mild as just lasting for a few minutes, or can escalate into hours of panting and you coming home to a dog with a soaked coat.  If the panting has gotten to that stage, it might be time to call a professional trainer as you could be dealing with separation anxiety.

Pain

Dogs will also pant when they are in pain.  They are very stoic animals and to show physical weakness would draw attention to the rest of the pack that they are weak or infirm, and therefore at risk.  Over the years of being domesticated, this trait has not changed.  Panting is a way for the injured or sick dog to “calm themselves” without showing their discomfort.  This is about the time I start wishing they could just talk and tell me what is wrong.   There are many medical issues that have panting as a symptom and should be considered an emergency situation.  Heartworm, bloat, collapsed trachea, and respiratory blockages are a few. It is always important to have a bond with your dog, but never more important than when you believe that you have a medical emergency – you know how your dog normally acts, and when he is just not himself.

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