Have you noticed your dog panting without having been playing or exercising? Here, our Plains veterinarians share some of the possible reasons why your dog may be panting excessively and when it's time to bring them to your vet for assessment.
Panting in Dogs
To recognize abnormal breathing and panting in your dog, you will need to know what the healthy breathing rate is for your pup. On average, healthy dogs will take between 15 and 35 breaths each minute while resting. Your dog will naturally breathe heavier and pant when they are exercising. Based on this, anything more frequent than 40 breaths each minute while your dog is resting will be considered abnormal and should be looked into.
It's also very important that you understand that panting doesn't always indicate an issue and that panting is your pup's way of cooling themselves down and regulating their body temperature - allowing heat and water to emanate from their mouth, tongue and respiratory tract.
Dogs aren't able to sweat to cool themselves off, instead, they have to breathe faster in order to let air circulate in their bodies. Panting helps your pooch get their body temperature back to normal.
Signs of Excessive Panting in Dogs
In order to tell if your dog is panting heavily, count their breaths for a minute while they are resting or sleeping. It can be a good idea to do this even if your dog isn't showing worrying behaviors to determine what their normal respiratory rate is.
Anything that is less than 30 breaths pet minute is normal and anything over 35 breathes each minute is generally considered to be a cause for concern. Your vet will have a good understanding of your dog's normal respiratory rate from previous examinations.
Causes of Heavy Panting in Dogs
Brachycephalic dog breeds, (breeds with 'squished faces' or shortened snouts), such as Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs face a higher risk of developing breathing issues and should always be closely monitored by pet owners for signs of increased respiratory effort.
Short-nosed breeds aren't the only dogs that run into difficulties breathing normally, however. No matter what breed your dog is, heavy panting and fast breathing may be a sign that you dog is suffering from an injury or illness that demand urgent veterinary care. A couple possible causes of fast or abnormally heavy breathing in dogs can include:
- Laryngeal Paralysis
- Windpipe Issues
- Smoke Inhalation
- Kennel Cough
- Pressure on Wind Pipe
- Stiffening of Airways
- Fungal Respiratory Infection
- Lung Diseases such as cancer
- Bacterial Respiratory Infection
- Heat Stroke
- Collapsing Windpipe
- Compressed Lungs
- Breed Characteristics
When to Call Your Vet For Your Dog's Panting
If you see your dog excessively panting while resting or sleeping, they may be experiencing some kind of respiratory distress. If you see your dog showing any of the following symptoms, the first thing you should do is call your vet as soon as possible. They will be able to inform you about the steps you should take until you reach an animal hospital.
- Their panting starts suddenly
- Pale, blue-tinged, or brick red gums
- Open-mouthed breathing while at rest
- Reluctance to drink, eat or move
- Out of character drooling
- Noticeably labored breathing (engaging stomach muscles to help breathe)
- Heavy, fast breathing that’s louder or different sounding than normal panting
Diagnosing The Cause of Your Dog's Excessive Panting
Your vet will be able to conduct a comprehensive physical examination of your dog in order to determine the specific cause of your pooch's excessive panting such as their airways, neck, head or another area. Your pup's overall condition or health may also be causing the issue.
Your vet will need to know about any previous medical issues that your pooch has experienced and may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check the heart, lungs and abdomen for issues such as lung tumors or broken ribs.
The veterinarian will also watch your dog for any signs of anxiety, stress, or other psychological factors that could be causing the fast breathing.
Treating Excessive Panting in Dogs
The treatments that are used for your dog's excessive panting will be determined by the underlying cause of their symptoms. Your may may prescribe a number of treatments or medications including pain killers, intravenous fluids or other medications to help restore your dog ot their normal shelves and full 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.
Depending on the severity of your dog's condition, rest and oxygen therapy may be needed to begin your pooch's road to healing. While most dogs will be healthy enough to be treated at home, hospitalization may be required to treat serious injuries or illness, monitor your dog's breathing and resolve the underlying health conditions contributing to your dog's excessive panting.
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.