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Panting is something that all dogs do. However, it can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, pain or other discomfort in your pet. Let us take a look at what qualifies as normal panting, and when you should be worried about your dog’s panting.
Why do dog pant?
Just as we cool off after exercise by sweating, dogs pant to cool off. Unlike humans, dogs have relatively fewer number of sweat glands on their body. Due to this, they can’t just sweat it out to cool down and have to pant instead. No doubt, their paws may sweat to cool down, but panting is how they allow air to circulate through the body and cool down. Of course, other than cooling down, dogs may also pant when they are excited, anxious or scared.
When should you be concerned?
One of the easiest ways to tell if your dog’s panting means something more worrisome is if he is panting more excessively than usual, whether it is for a longer duration, more frequent or intense. Another situation that may demand further investigation is if your dog is panting for no reason. If there is no external stimulus such as heat, training or exercise involved, then your dog may be panting for other reasons.
What does excessive panting mean?
If your dog is panting excessively, you want to check the color of his gums and tongue. If they have turned a shade of white or blue, then it means that oxygen is not being circulated optimally in the body. Seek a professional’s help immediately. Here are some conditions that could be leading to it:
- Pain: Your dog may be experiencing pain due to a physical injury or underlying medical condition like pancreatitis. Watch out for other symptoms such as restlessness, anxiety, unusual food habits, wounds, enlarged pupils for the same.
- Heartworm: If a heartworm infection is not adequately treated and has escalated, it could be causing your dog to pant. Seek the assistance of a vet so he/she can prescribe medication and treatment for the same.
- Obesity: Obese dogs tend to tire out much faster and tend to pant excessively when they engage in any physical activity. Make sure that your dog is fit and gets sufficient exercise, so he/she does not turn obese or it can lead to other health conditions down the line.
- Poisoning: If the panting is accompanied by convulsions, vomiting, drooling and/or lethargy, it could be due to poisoning. This again, demands immediate medical intervention, so the poisonous substance that has been consumed can be immediately removed.
- Heatstroke: If your dog takes a break while exercising and starts panting heavily, it could be due to a heatstroke. Take him/her indoors or to a cooler place immediately and call the vet. Seizures, vomiting, drooling, increased body temperature, and heart rate are other signs that point at a heatstroke.