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Excessive Panting in Dogs

Panting is normal in dogs but when it becomes excessive, it may be a sign of a larger health concern. In this blog, our Corpus Christi vets share some potential reasons why your dog may be panting excessively and when you should bring them to the vet.

Panting in Dogs

To identify abnormal breathing and panting in your dog, it's essential to be familiar with your dog's normal respiratory rate. Typically, a healthy dog will breathe between 15 to 35 times per minute while at rest. Rapid panting in dogs is a cause for concern because dogs will take about 40 breaths per minute while at rest.

It's essential to know that panting doesn't always point to an issue and that it's your furry friend's way of cooling themselves down, regulating their body temperature, and letting heat and water evaporate from their mouth tongue, and upper respiratory tract.

Dogs lack the ability to sweat for cooling purposes. Instead, they rely on rapid breathing to facilitate air circulation within their bodies. Panting serves as a mechanism for your canine companion to regulate their body temperature and return it to normal levels.

Signs of Excessive Panting in Dogs

To tell if your dog is panting heavily, count your dog’s breaths for a minute while they are resting or sleeping. (You might also want to do this when you aren't worried, about determining your dog's normal respiratory rate). Anything under 30 breaths per minute is considered normal, anything above 35 may be a cause for concern and is worth contacting your vet over. Your vet will have a good understanding of your dog's normal respiratory rate from previous examinations.

Causes of Heavy Panting in Dogs

Dog breeds with squished faces or shortened snouts, like Boston Terriers, Boxers, and Pugs, are more prone to respiratory problems. Pet owners should diligently monitor these breeds for signs of heightened respiratory effort.

Short-nosed breeds aren't the only ones that can run into difficulties breathing normally. No matter which breed your dog is, heavy panting or fast breathing could indicate that your pooch is suffering from an illness or injury requiring urgent veterinary care.

A few potential causes of fast or heavy breathing in dogs include:

  • Exercise
  • Smoke Inhalation
  • Asthma
  • Kennel Cough
  • Stiffening of Airways
  • Windpipe Issues
  • Pressure on Wind Pipe
  • Fungal Respiratory Infection
  • Bacterial Respiratory Infection
  • Lung Diseases such as cancer
  • Laryngeal Paralysis
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Medication
  • Breed Characteristics
  • Heat Stroke
  • Parasites
  • Compressed Lungs
  • Hernia
  • Anemia
  • Pneumonia
  • Collapsing Windpipe

When to Call Your Vet For Your Dog's Panting

If you see your dog excessively panting while resting, or breathing heavily when they are sleeping, they may be experiencing respiratory distress. If you see your pup exhibiting any of the following signs the first thing you should do is call your vet immediately, they will inform you of the steps you should take until you reach the animal hospital.

  • Heavy, fast breathing that’s louder or different sounding than normal panting
  • Their panting starts suddenly
  • Open-mouthed breathing while at rest
  • Reluctance to drink, eat, or move
  • Pale, blue-tinged, or brick red gums
  • Out of character drooling
  • Noticeably labored breathing (engaging stomach muscles to help breathe)

Diagnosing The Cause of Your Dog's Excessive Panting

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your dog to identify the underlying cause of their excessive panting, which could stem from issues in the heart, circulatory system, lungs, airway, neck, head, or elsewhere. The overall health condition of your pup may also contribute to the problem.

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 underlying cause of the issue will determine the treatments used for your dog's excessive panting. Excessive panting in older dogs will be treated by your vet with pain relief, intravenous fluids, or other medications to help restore your dog to good 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.

Rest and oxygen therapy will likely be needed to start your dog along the road to healing. While most dogs will be well enough to be treated at home, in some severe cases hospitalization may be required to monitor the dog's breathing, and to treat the underlying health condition.

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.

Are you worried about your dog's panting? Contact our vets in Corpus Christi immediately for urgent care.

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Everhart Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Corpus Christi companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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