When someone is asked to imitate a dog, it’ll usually be a barking or a panting sound. Because that’s how we normally see dogs. Barking is the dog’s way of communicating a lot of things. It can be excitement, fear, love, pain etc. among other things. The same is for panting. It’s completely normal for a dog to pant. It can be for various reasons including them feeling hot, excited, energetic, tired, etc. But anything in excess amount is a suspicion of something being wrong. So is excessive panting. Sometimes it can be something as small as extreme tiredness after a very long walk or after a rigorous training session, or something as severe as a chronic health problem or even experiencing a life-threatening trauma.
Common Reasons for Excessive Panting in Dogs
Just like humans tend to pant after a run or a workout session and it helps us to calm ourselves down and regain the energy, even dogs have the same mechanism. Panting helps dog to cool off after a rigorous training or walking session. To understand the difference between their normal and excessive panting, just observe the dog when he/she is in a normal state. It usually will be around 10-30 breaths per minute depending on the size of the dog. When excessive panting occurs, the reasons can be the following –
Heatstroke or poisoning – Some dogs like Boston terriers, bulldogs and pugs have a shorter snout. This causes them to breathe heavier than average dogs. But otherwise, heavy panting occurs when the dog has experienced a heat stroke or has by mistakenly consumed a toxic substance.
Chronic issue – There can be multiple chronic conditions which can lead to heavy panting. They can include –
Heart Failure – breathing difficulty, reduced exercise tolerance, and coughing can very well happen to a dog when experiencing a heart failure just like humans
Cushing syndrome – When a dog’s adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, this syndrome can happen. Without treatment, dogs develop higher risks of high blood pressure; pulmonary thromboembolism, which can result in sudden death; congestive heart failure; neurological symptoms; blindness; and myopathy.
Respiratory disorders – Lung tumors, pneumonia, etc. can lead to excessive panting as the oxygen in the body gets lowered.
Pain or injury – We humans can communicate through words that we’re in pain but for dogs panting is the language of expression. Look out for injury in case of excessive panting. By the way, panting is not the only language. Apparently, dogs are multi-lingual and there are other ways in which they communicate as well. They include enlarged pupils, reduced appetite, reluctance lying down, licking or biting the paining body part.
Medicines – There are some medicines which cause heavy panting. For e.g., prednisone. Consult your vet for more details.
Milk Fever – Low blood calcium in nursing mother dogs can lead to inability to stand or walk or even tremors. Heavy breathing happens usually in such cases.
Allergies – It can be on the skin or internal due to some food or other external allergens. Heavy panting is a sign of an allergic reaction as well.
Fluid in lungs or lung cavity – It results in lungs not being able to supply sufficient oxygen to the body and hence heavy breathing
Dreams – Especially seen in puppies, when a bad dream occurs to them, usually during the REM sleep or the rapid eye movement phase, they tend to breathe heavily accompanied by leg movements.
When to become more concerned about excessive panting in dogs?
On a normal day, a dog will breathe heavily only when he/she is tired or hot. But if this happens in the below cases then it might be a sign of worry
Dog displaying pale or blue gums while heavily panting – It is a sign of the dog not getting enough oxygen
Panting with closed or partially open mouth
Coughing and heavy breathing – It can be a sign of chronic bronchitis
Dog in distress – Can be because of restlessness or a lack of appetite. Your dog may even show other signs of stress such as tucking the tail between the legs and ears that are pinned back rather than being relaxed
Other noises while breathing – Noises such as snorting, wheezing, or retching are common symptoms of chronic bronchitis
Treatment for Heavy panting in Dogs
This may depend on the underlying conditions as we have established that there can be several reasons for the dog to be panting heavily. The condition can even be predisposed as known for breeds like Bulldog, French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu, Mastiff, Boxer. Although the best way to treat heavy panting, especially when in the above-mentioned conditions, is to take him/her to the vet immediately, there are some remedies which can be applied to avoid or lower the condition
Avoid hot and humid environments – As humans, dogs do not have sweat glands which can regulate the body temperature. It’s better to avoid such climates. Use air conditioning or open windows to ensure adequate supply of air
Limit exercise – Exertion usually happens after a rigorous training exercise. Although a good training exercise is essential for the dog to be healthy; a limit should be kept on the same to avoid extreme exertion
CBD or Cannabidiol – Is a chemical in the cannabis plant which helps regulate sleep, appetite, pain, immunity and more. Dogs given CBD at a rate of 4.4 mg per pound twice daily for a month showed significant improvement in pain relief and quality of life. Do consult your vet before changing any medication
Antihistamines – Hay fever, bee stings, allergies, or inflamed nostrils can be cured by this medicine often referred to as ‘Benadryl for dogs.’ The right quantity is 1 mg per pound of the dog and every 8 hours
Nasal drops – A congested nose can also be a reason for heavy panting and can be cured with recommended sterile nasal drops
It is completely normal for your dogs to pant or breathe heavily at times. Excessive panting can be because of a reason as small as tiredness or as severe as a chronic disease. The best thing to do is consult the vet as soon as any unusual signs are seen. However, there are a few things that can be done to avoid it or limit it.
Happy Mood and Health to your Doggo and lots of Love and Licks to you!