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There are several potential causes of panting in dogs and not all forms of panting are created equal. Panting may be considered a normal occurrence in specific circumstances, but it can also take place with certain medical conditions. As a dog owner’s it’s important to learn how to recognise signs of troublesome panting so that the underlying cause can be tackled quickly by a veterinarian. Some forms of panting may also signal a life threating situation that requires emergency care.

What exactly is panting in dogs?

Panting is described as rapid open mouth breathing in dogs panting is often accompanied by audible breathing sounds, although the breathing sounds produced should not be excessive.

# from feeling hot

It is quite easy to recognise this form of panting as it’s often seen during warm and humid summer months. Dogs are more prone to feeling hot for several reasons. Firstly their bodies are covered in fur, and secondly, dogs tend to have a naturally higher temperature than humans. Dogs who are panting from feeling hot will typically seek ways to cool down such as sleeping on tiled floors, seeking shade, or sticking their head out of a window if they are riding in the car.

# From exercising

Panting during or after exercise is a form of overheating that takes place internally, but there may also be an external factor at play if the dog has been exercising in warm weather or in a place with not much ventilation.

Dogs that are panting from exercise will not appear tense and will look relaxed. Their tongue lolls out loosely from the effect of gravity. The lips are kept slightly retracted with a downward, relaxed droop.

# from emotions

Dogs are emotional beings and getting worked up from intense emotions may also trigger a panting episode. Emotions that can trigger this feature in dogs include negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and fear but also happy emotions such as excitement and anticipation. Paying attention to context once again is important.

If your dog stars panting during a thunder storm, chances are, your dog is stressed by this event. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety are also known to pant when their owners manifest early pre-departure cues and the condition often persists once the owners leave the home.

Panting from troubled breathing

Some medical conditions may also cause panting in dogs. In particular, dogs suffering from some respiratory cardiovascular disorders may pant as a manifestation of troubled breathing.

The dog may appear anxious or in distress. The dog may be breathing with an open mouth and with the neck extended. Dogs in respiratory distress may also have trouble lying down in certain positions and on their stomach or stand with their elbows wide apart.

from pain

On top of panting from breathing problems, it’s important to recognise that dogs may also do so when they are feeling pain. The facial expression of dogs in this condition is often tensed. Some dogs panting from pain may sit in front of the owner almost in hope of getting some attention or reassurance.

Dogs tend to feel warm as a result of two precise circumstances, being exposed to a warm external environment or as result of internal conditions such as when a dog runs a fever.

There are several other potential cause of panting like obesity, aging, canine cognitive dysfunction, Cushing’s disease, neurological issues, high blood pressure etc. If the affected dog is panting excessively or develops more symptoms it’s important to schedule an appointment with a vet.