Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Panting

Dogs pant. They pant when they exercise, when they are hot, they pant when they are excited. Panting is your dog's way to cool their body. Because dogs don't sweat like we do the only effective way they can cool themselves is by panting. All dogs do that and it is perfectly normal.

So if panting is normal, why should you worry about it?

If your dog is panting more heavily than usual, or without an obvious reason, he might be in trouble! You share your life with your dog and nobody knows him better than you do. That's why it is so important for you to know when to start worrying. Excessive or unexplained panting can be a symptom of a serious health issue.

Obesity

Obesity is a common cause of excessive panting in dogs. An obese dog is more likely to over heat. Activity is also more exhausting for an overweight dog. Before you rejoice that you don't have anything to worry about, please note that obesity can lead to a number of health problems including heart and cardiovascular disorders, pancreatitis, joint disease, liver disease and other conditions. Please consider obesity a serious health risk and keep your dog slim!

Hyperthermia/Heatstroke

Heatstroke is another common cause of heavy panting. That doesn't make it any less dangerous! Heatstroke can cause catastrophic damage to your dog's body and can lead to brain damage and even death.

If your dog is panting heavily and you have a reason to suspect heatstroke, check for other signs. If your dog's  gums and tongue are deep red, purple or blue with thick sticky saliva, move your dog to a cool place and spray him with cool (not cold) water or place wet rags or towels over him, particularly near the stomach and inside of legs. Do not immerse your dog in cold water! If your dog's temperature is over 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40°C) take your dog to a vet immediately.

Fever

A heatstroke is hyperthermia due to environmental causes. Fever is caused by your dog's immune response. Your dog might get a fever as a response to infection or other illness. Fever can be accompanied by loss of appetite, lethargy, changes in behavior and other signs. If your dog has a fever see a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. As with heatstroke, temperature over 104 degrees Fahrenheit is an emergency and needs immediate medical attention.

Respiratory or cardiovascular disorders

There are a number or respiratory and cardiovascular disorders than can cause unexplained panting in your dog. If your dog is panting for no obvious reason, or continues to pant longer than ten minutes after exercise, talk to your veterinarian.

Pain

Your dog can be panting as a response to pain. If your dog is panting and salivating excessively, retching and has a distended abdomen, he might be suffering from bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition, take your dog to a vet immediately!

Other causes of pain can include pancreatitis or joint pain. Have your dog checked by a veterinarian to determine underlying cause.

Hormonal imbalances

Excessive panting can be a sign of some hormonal disorders, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing's disease. In these cases panting could be accompanied by other symptoms, such as weight gain, excessive drinking, coat changes, changes in appetite or behavioral changes.

Bottom Line

These are just some of the causes of excessive panting in dogs. If your dog is panting excessively, or without an obvious reason, take it seriously and consult your veterinarian. Excessive panting is an important symptom to keep in mind.

Jana

Panting in Dogs
Panting in Dogs – Is it Normal?
How to Determine When Dog Panting is a Bad Sign
Causes of Panting in Dogs
Excessive Panting in Dogs

Related Articles:
Know Your Dog's Enemies: Overweight
Medical Jargon Explained: Hypo- Versus Hyperthermia
A Word on Pain
Medical Jargon Explained: Hypo- versus Hyperthyroid
Medical Jargon Explained: Hypo- versus Hyperadrenocorticism

Did I miss something? Have a question? Leave a comment.

46 comments:

  1. Nice article.

    It seems the number of dogs suffering from obesity is on the rise just as it is with owners. Glad to see more awareness and options to provide opportunity to get fit with your dog in a healthy safe manner.

    Knowledge is King or Queen! :) Action is even better.

    Thanks for the post.

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  2. Hi! Thank you for reading. You're right, obesity is an epidemic today. There is an article dedicated to obesity specifically under Know Your Dog's Enemies.

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  3. great article...I'm gonna tweet this puppy :-)

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  4. Thank you! And thank you for reading.

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  5. Very informative article. Usually when my dog pants too heavily and with her tongue out, I would think that he needs water. But I never thought that it could be this serious.

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  6. Panting heavily with tongue far out is usually result of heat. Overheating is dangerous. If no obvious reason for your dog to be hot, than something else might be going on.

    It is always good to be aware of what is normal for your dog and what is not. Unless you get used to a symptom, because that can seem normal then also.

    ReplyDelete
  7. it is 3 in the morning and my dog is panting excessivly i dont know what to do she is licking the floor and chewing the carpet what is going on here cant do anything till the morning im so scard for her

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you have done something in the meantime; sounds to me like a serious stomach upset perhaps, maybe pancreatitis.

      Have you seen a vet since you wrote this?

      Delete
    2. My seven year old westie has been panting and licking the furniture etc. Shevis due for a cut do you think she is just hot .she is the same as usual other than the above. Any suggestions .thanks
      Diana

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    3. Hi Diana,

      panting COULD mean she's hot depending on what the air temperature is where you are. But somehow, from what you're describing it doesn't sound like it--neither you think that by the sound of it.

      More importantly, if this is combined with furniture licking - this activity would not cool her down.

      Excessive licking of surfaces has been linked to gastrointestinal issues. So that would be at least one other thing to consider besides being hot.

      Also, does she seek cold surfaces to lay on? (e.g. hardwood/tile rather than a carpet or her bed?) If not, that I think being hot can be ruled out.

      Something is going on, though, and with this constellation of signs I would consult a vet for some testing.

      Delete
  8. Great article. Lately I've witnessed my 10 year old dog Madeline panting when she wakes up, though it is very cool in my house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only when she wakes up? Where does she sleep? Any other signs (changes in drinking habits, urination, appetite, activity ...)?

      Delete
  9. My dog is a 6month old staffy bitch, she is in her first season and has started to pant a lot :( does this meen that she is in pain or is this a usual thing for a dog in heat? Also is there anything I can do for her x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I have to admit I know nothing about dogs in heat; our dogs have always been spayed. Try my Dog Health Issues FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/132431313454015/

      somebody there might have experience. Or talk to your vet. I would imagine that some increase in panting might be normal but I really don't know.

      Delete
  10. I have a lab she seem to alaway panting excessive every nigth she seem find i am worry please email cynthiasulak@ol.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please tell me more about your lab. Age, known medical condition, is she overweight, when was the last vet visit and what was checked, any other signs such as not sleeping at night, pacing, drinking and/or peeing more than usually etc

      Delete
  11. my dog had puppies 5 days ago...and just yesterday she began panting....would u know why????

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  12. We just got our dog from the spca & he is on the chubby side but we are going to get him a vet check up since i don't think it's normal that he is always Panting Heavily like at first when we got him i just thought it was cause of him being hot from outside & being excited but now that we had him the past two days that's all he does is pant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having him checked up by your vet is something you want to do anyway.

      What breed is it and how much overweight is he? (some panting could be due to stress/excitement from the new situation)

      Delete
  13. My French Bulldog gave birth 2 weeks ago and she keeps panting really heavily like she does when she is too hot but it's cold! Does anybody know why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie, generally, panting isn't unusual for a bitch during lactation and even more so for a first time mother.

      Please check these articles:
      Ask the Veterinarian/Nursing dog - rapid breathing; panting

      Dog Panting After Giving Birth: Postpartum Panting Explained


      However, if you feel there is a reason for concern, particularly with your breed, please talk to your veterinarian.

      Delete
  14. Thank you very much for your reply it has been really helpful.

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  15. I have a 5 year old choc lab mix, I just moved to AZ from MI about 2 months ago, I have the AC on in the house to about 70 and still she pants non stop acting like it is 100 inside. Laying down at night she has rapid short breaths. taking her outside she gets out of breath easily. no coughing or wincing, just breathing heavy and panting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Clearly, you feel this is not normal for her at all. And I agree.

      Is this all the time? Could it be anxiety related? In any case, you do want to book a vet visit.

      Delete
  16. I have an 8 year old yellow lab. Since December 2013, she started panting at night and won't sleep. We have had her to the vets, and all her tests came back normal, except her ALP level in her liver was elevated to 397. The vet put her on SAMe and that helped somewhat. During the day, she pants occasionally, naps well, plays outside with her brother and sister. (also labs) this only happens at night, she also leaves her bed and starts moving slowly, stopping to pant more. She lets me love her, but, she won't come back to bed. In the morning, she is in her bed. We can't figure what is wrong. Nothing has happened to upset her, the other dogs are fine. Please help, as it hurts to see her so distraught.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do agree with you that this is not normal. I believe you need to keep investigating what the true cause for the signs you're seeing and for the elevated ALP levels is.

      Was she tested for Cushing's?
      Alkaline phosphatase

      Delete
    2. She is scheduled to be tested for Cushing's. However, I have had a dog with Cushings, and she gained weight, lost her hair, and drank alot of water. Samantha has lost weight, does not drink alot of water, and hasn't lost any hair.

      Delete
    3. Not all dogs always get exactly the same signs. I think that testing the adrenal function, whether there is too much or too little is the logical next step. Diabetes was ruled out, right?

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    4. As far as I know. the vet never mentioned diabetes.

      Delete
  17. My 3 yr old min pin has been laying around for 2 days. Now she picks her head up , looks like she's trying but unable to yawn, and pants constantly. What could be wrong with my roxy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa, these are serious symptoms and you should not delay visiting a vet. Nobody can diagnose this without examining the dog and running some basic tests. It is serious, though, please do see a vet as soon as possible.

      Delete
    2. What was the cause of this? My dog has the same looking like shes trying to yawn constantly (Though I've seen her yawn). Shes less playful (aka not playing at all), drinking a lot of water, panting, breathe stinks more then normal, and drooling more then usual. Shes a 2 1/2 year old Newfy/ Bordercollie mix. It just started last night so I'm keeping an eye on her for now.

      Delete
    3. Please stop keeping an eye and take her to the vet asap.

      Delete
  18. I have a 11 month old German Shepher she seem to panting a lot at night when we are trying to sleep, it keeps her up and me. i just got her 2 months ago.
    Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is the room temperature? Are there any other symptoms of a potential problem? Does she have issues with anxiety? When was her last vet check-up?

      Delete
  19. What about anxiety? I find my dog pants when I start getting ready to leave the house (for the day or weekend). Even when he is coming with me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, anxiety and/or excitement can certainly cause panting. The above listed are medical reasons, meaning panting without a discernible cause such as heat, exercise, excitement etc.

      Delete
  20. My 10 year old dog has been panting a lot lately. He was just tested a couple of weeks ago, and no heart issues. His liver levels were slightly elevated a few months ago, but after being on meds...his levels are great. The weather did get very warm in our area, but he's inside the house all the time. He's eating like a champ, and doesn't seem distressed at all. I'm not sure if I'm overreacting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd say it's a safe assumption you're not overreacting. You know your dog and you're the only one who can tell whether he's panting more than it makes sense.

      Glad to hear the heart has no issues. Glad to hear the liver is happier. Did you test thyroid and adrenal function?

      Delete
  21. Symptoms: panting excessively at night, with increased salivation. Drinks more during this time as well. She is super calm all day (almost too clam), but gets a burst of energy at night, and acts "like a normal dog" for about an hour. She will play and interact with her doggie sister. Normally when she pants it means she needs to go poopy. Lately she has been doing it even after going poopy. She is of normal weight, and does have some anxiety, but I wonder if it could be something more serious? Thyroid? Why does she act "normal" for such a short time at night? Any suggestions on tests to run?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you that it is something to pay attention to, particularly combined with being calmer than normal.

      When was her last wellness exam? I'd start with full physical, fecal, urinalysis and blood panel and go from there.

      Typically, labs do bundles, such as a senior panel, which include T4, HW etc. T4 by itself isn't indicative of thyroid problem but can show you whether you should do full thyroid test or not. (decreased T4 levels can mean problem with thyroid function BUT it can also simply mean a sick dog)

      With urinalysis, I'd also look at cortisol:creatitine ratio.

      Does the burst of energy happen before or after meal? Before or after elimination? How many meals a day does she get? What food is she on?

      Another option is to consult an integrative vet, who will likely want to do all of the above (unless done recently and all clear--but if you have the labs do take them with you) as well as with TCVM there is a particular significance to timing of symptoms as well.

      Delete
  22. My dog in the past two days has seemed very skittish and jump at anything even sometimes nothing, she also has heavy panting and wines alot , any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What has changed recently? Any changes in environment or life-style? Any events that could have caused it? (even things such as new neighbors, construction near by ...) Any signs of injury or pain?

      Delete
  23. My friend has a boxer approx 8 + half...he doesn't get out much because she has become disabled. He pants excessively even though he has had no exercise maybe just a quick nip in garden. He has a heart murmur and his tounge to me looks bluey purple. He's restless..drunks quite a bit, I've just been with him and filled his big bowl twice. I don't think he is right and I didn't want to leave him but had to come home do tea. I think he should go vet but his owner says he's fine...help!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you that the dog needs to see a vet, probably asap. Unfortunately, it is not your dog and there isn't a whole lot you can do other than try talking to your friend. Depending on where you live, you might be able to involve animal control or something like that but it is hard to make such a decision.

      There are articles you could show your friend to convince him his dog is in bad shape. Excessive drinking is a big warning sign. Excessive panting is a warning sign. And blueish/purple tongue (with exception of certain breeds) is a MAJOR warning sign. There are articles on each of these symptoms on my blog as well as you can find them on petMD, Veterinary Parner and other reputable websites.

      Please try talking to your friend again, perhaps showing him some of those articles.

      Delete

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