Dogs don’t sweat in the same way as people. They cool down by panting with their tongue hanging out the side of their mouth. Therefore, dog panting isn’t unusual unless it’s excessive.
Healthy dogs typically pant when they’re running and playing, especially if they’re anxious, excited, or warm. anxious
However, in some cases, panting can indicate a problem, especially if accompanied by other symptoms. Therefore, if you suspect your dog experiences something that results in excessive panting, schedule a vet appointment immediately.
In today’s article, I will discuss panting in dogs in detail and share different ways to calm a panting dog, so let’s jump right in.
How Do I Know if My Dog is Panting Too Much?
Panting during excitement and exercise is standard for most breeds; however, if you see any of the following signs, your dog is likely panting too much:
- Your pet exerts more effort than usual.
- The breaths sound much louder and harsher than usual.
- Panting longer than about 20 minutes after exercise or while at rest.
- Your dog is visibly distressed or lethargic.
If you notice any of these signs in your dog along with panting, visit the vet because abnormal panting can indicate something more serious.
How to Calm a Panting Dog: 10 Helpful Tips
Sometimes, stressed dogs and those in pain can look like they’re panting.
Texas Pet Vets says that when male and female dogs experience pain or stress, their bodies release a stress hormone, also known as cortisol.
And too much cortisol can increase the body temperature, causing heavy panting and even Cushing’s disease.
Unusual panting can also happen in sick dogs. For instance, respiratory diseases resemble panting, so consult your vet for advice.
If you notice your dog suddenly panting, apply the following tips and ensure it’s not something serious.
1. Confirm Your Dog’s Panting is Normal
Panting after playtime or exercise is normal because dogs pant to cool off.
Therefore, if your dog has been running around or playing with you or other dogs or pets, or it’s a bit warm outside, and you’re taking a walk together, don’t worry about panting because it’s healthy.
Remember that dogs pant when they get excited. If your pet is wagging their tail and staring at a cat or squirrel outside, they’re probably fine.
However, nobody knows your puppy better than you, so consult your vet for advice if they’re acting weirdly.
2. Provide a Big Bowl of Cold Water
If your dog is panting, you can provide a big bowl of cold water and see if they stop after they hydrate.
When puppies pant, the water inside their lungs and nose evaporates to help them cool off. And giving your dog water will help them reload this reserve and normalize. If your pet stops panting after drinking water, they’re probably okay.
Lastly, when taking your puppy on a walk or hike, always bring a water bottle and a cup so your furry friend stays hydrated.
3. Keep Your Dog Cool on Hot Days
If it’s hot outside and water isn’t helping your dog, move them to a cool environment where they can rest and return to normal.
And if you’re playing fetch at the park, taking a hike, or walking on a warm day, and your dog starts panting excessively, that’s your sign for retreat.
Bring your dog to a cool area and turn on a fan. If it’s warm indoors but cool outside, take your dog outside for some fresh air.
They can be overly excited or anxious if they’re well-hydrated in a cool environment but still panting excessively.
Unusual panting can also indicate a more severe problem, so if water and cool air don’t help, take your dog to the vet immediately.
4. Help Your Pup Relax if They’re Anxious
Fireworks, thunderstorms, and strangers can trigger unusual, frequent panting. Other signs of a stressed or anxious dog include hiding, yawning, whining, flattened ears, a tucked tail, and crouching down.
So, if your dog is upset by such things, take them somewhere calm. Give your dog a treat, play soothing music, and let them relax.
Some dogs also get anxious if they aren’t active enough and have a lot of energy. If this is the case with your dog, take a walk or play with them for a few minutes.
If they’re still anxious, take them to their favorite relaxing spot.
If they’re crate trained and sleep in their box, leading them into their safe space and hanging out nearby can help.
Important note: Ignore this tip if your dog has a negative experience with the crate.
5. In Case of Abnormal Dog Panting, Visit Your Vet
You can quickly recognize abnormal panting, as it’s usually paired with lethargy.
Some dogs can also make strange panting sounds and act strangely. If your canine hides, doesn’t play, or drools a lot, they’re probably feeling sick.
Consider whether the panting matches the level of activity or temperature.
Take immediate action if it’s cold outside and your puppy pants, or if they pant while sleeping.
Depending on the panting source, your dog may or may not need medical attention. However, even if your dog seems fine, I highly suggest visiting your vet as soon as possible, just in case.
6. Check for Signs of Dehydration in Case of Excessive Panting
Dehydration can also cause unusual panting. You can determine if this is the case by opening your dog’s mouth and inspecting the gums.
If your dog has dry and sticky gums, dehydration is the problem.
Moreover, gently pinch their skin to see if it feels stiff, dried out, or firmer than usual. You can also check your dog’s nose to see if it’s dry.
These signs also point out dehydration.
If you suspect your puppy hasn’t had water for a while and they show symptoms of dehydration, such as panting, vomiting, lethargy, thick saliva, dry or sunken eyes, or loss of appetite, provide fresh, cold water asap.
If your dog bounces right back after water, they’re probably fine. However, it’s time for a vet visit if they’re still panting excessively.
7. Make Sure it’s Not a Heat Stroke
If it’s hot outside, ensure your puppy isn’t panting excessively due to a heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke include lethargy, glazed eyes, and rapid heartbeat.
Open your puppy’s mouth to inspect the tongue. If it’s red or purple, and your puppy experiences any of the other symptoms, they’re probably having a heat stroke.
In this case, take your puppy inside. Then, place a cold towel on your puppy’s head, pour cool water over their body, and provide cold water or ice.
After you’ve cooled them off, visit your vet immediately.
You can prevent heat stroke by limiting activity on hot days, providing enough cold water, and keeping your pets in the shade.
Extra tip: If you have a rectal thermometer, you can check your dog’s temperature. The average temperature in dogs is 101.5 °F (38.6 °C). See your vet immediately if their temperature is over 105–106 °F (41–41 °C).
8. Inspect Your Dog for Injuries
Panting accompanied by limping, trembling, or whining indicates pain. So, look for injuries if your dog displays these symptoms.
Your puppy may have a glass in the paw or a cut somewhere on the body if they’re panting excessively. Inspect your dog’s paw pads for glass, tears, or splinters. Moreover, run your hands through their coat to look for curs or lumps.
If you notice a wound on your dog’s paw or they’re actively bleeding somewhere on their body, cover the injury with a towel and apply pressure to stop the bleeding.
Visit your vet if something is stuck in your dog’s skin or paw.
9. Has Your Dog Eaten Something Bad?
Excessive panting can also be a result of food poisoning or allergic reactions.
So, if your dog pants all of a sudden, consider their diet in the last few hours. If your puppy was inspecting your trash or licking plants in your garden or at the park, call your vet asap.
Raisins, chocolate, antifreeze, certain plants, rat poison, and various chemicals can poison your puppy. So, if you suspect your puppy has had contact with any of these things, see your veterinarian immediately and save your dog’s life.
Food poisoning includes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, peeing a lot, and unusual panting.
10. If the Dog’s Panting Persists, Visit the Local Vet Clinic
Excessive panting can be a result of different conditions.
Unfortunately, pet parents can’t fix medical problems yourself. So, if your dog keeps panting excessively and seems sick, consult your vet and see what they say.
Excessive or unusual panting can result from heart issues, lung disease, anemia, or Cushing’s disease, so the sooner you visit your vet, the better for your dog. Your vet can stop panting by addressing the underlying cause.
Additional Tips for Panting in Normal Dogs
Some dog breeds pant more frequently than others. Brachycephalic breeds, such as mastiffs, pugs, French bulldogs, and Pekingese, pant more frequently because of their short noses.
Unusual and heavy panting can also be a side effect of separation anxiety or steroids in many dogs.
So, if your puppy is panting more than usual and is taking steroids for a medical condition, they’re likely fine. However, if they’re panting excessively, see a veterinarian immediately.
Final Tips on Dog Panting Heavily
Observe your dog’s behavior closely and if you suspect overheating or medical issues, don’t panic, but act quickly.
Ask your local vet clinic for guidance. If they instruct you to see the vet, ensure you run the air conditioner in your car on your way there.
If your dog is overheating, your vet will provide treatment with fluids and make blood tests. The tests will uncover what’s wrong with your puppy.
In most cases, panting is considered normal behavior in a healthy dog.
However, sudden or increased panting accompanied by other symptoms isn’t, and the sooner you address the underlying issue, the better for your dog.