Dog Panting: Why They Do It And How to Fix It

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Whenever our dogs do something new or act strangely, our pet parent senses start overloading. We tend to worry and worry until we solve what’s going on, even if it’s something seemingly harmless like a dog panting.

If your dog constantly or intermittently pants day and night, we might wonder, “why is my dog panting so much?”. You may be curious why it happens, and especially if it means anything is wrong.

Panting that normally has a simple explanation may, in fact, be more complex. It’s important for pet parents to know the many reasons our dogs may pant.

Why is my dog panting?

When the hot summer sun shines down on us, we tend to overheat and sweat. Sweating helps us cool off and maintain proper body heat, though it may not feel like it. Dogs sweat too, but because of their fur, they mostly sweat from their paw pads and the nose area. This, as you can imagine, is not very efficient. Dogs need another way to cool themselves down.

Though there are many reasons why dogs pant. A primary reason is that they are hot and are trying to cool down. When a dog is panting, they move air over the wet surface of their lungs, tongue, and mouth. This panting action cools them down faster. It’s a similar way to how a cool breeze on our sweaty skin cools us down faster than dry skin. The passage of air can help the sweat to evaporate and cool us and our pups down.

dog panting

A dog panting because they are warm is common. It’s one of the best methods to maintain proper body heat. However, there may be other reasons that are not normal.

In breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs, and pugs, panting might be caused by a breathing condition called Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome. This syndrome occurs when a dog has too flat of a face and a squished nose. These dogs simply can’t take in the appropriate amount of air as their upper respiratory tract is too narrow. Pups with this condition find it hard to cool themselves down properly. They can also be prone to heatstroke and shouldn’t be over-exercised or left out when on hot sunny days.

Is panting a sign of anxiety in dogs?

While a breathing condition or temperature control can cause panting, dogs also pant because of stress and anxiety. If a dog is panting and seeking a quiet and calm place or shelter, it’s likely they are feeling stressed. Anxious panting can be accompanied by other signs of dog anxiety, such as yawning, scratching and destructive chewing.

Why is My Dog Shaking and Panting?

A dog panting and shaking could mean that they are anxious or stressed out, as mentioned before. This also occurs when they are scared. When a dog is scared or stressed, panting does not exceed normal levels. However, if a dog is highly stressed, panting will be accompanied by shaking.

Shaking can also be a sign of excitement or pain.

There are many reasons why dogs shake and pant. Therefore, it’s necessary to look at your pup’s environment and how they are interacting within it.

Excitement is often a reason for your dog to shake and pant. Dogs can shake and pant when experiencing new situations, meeting strangers, or encountering something they’ve never seen before.

Anxious and stressed behavior could be a reason why your dog is shaking and panting. When under extreme stress, a dog begins to shake because they need an outlet for all of their intense energy.

When a dog is in pain, they are very good at hiding it. However, sometimes they are experiencing such intense pain, it’s harder to hide, and will often shake and pant. Sometimes the shaking or panting is accompanied by other small clues such as whining, constant licking, or aggression.

Why is my dog panting and restless at night?

A dog panting for no reason in the middle of the night can be very disconcerting and even annoying. Dogs that are not be feeling well, will pant and pace because they need to use the potty. Panting can be a way to get your attention.

Your dog pacing and panting at night can also mean that there is something strange going on. Senior dogs that are panting and pacing at night could be a sign of cognitive dysfunction. This restlessness often occurs as dogs age, although cognitive issues can begin at any age.

Although cognitive dysfunction can’t be cured, there are things you can do. Should your senior dog start panting and wandering around at night, there are medications that can slow it down. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect there is an underlying condition.

How do I know if my dog is panting too much?

Depending on how big or small a dog is, the number of breaths a dog takes a minute can vary. Usually, this number is between ten to thirty and up to forty normal breaths per minute. For a panting dog, they can take upwards of three hundred to four hundred breaths per minute. When a dog pants this much, it’s considered normal and not harmful.

panting - big dog tongue

A dog’s panting becomes abnormal when their breathing speed increases more than normal or far less than normal. A dog panting excessively might also have a louder pant and coughing or wheezing, especially for dogs with breathing problems.

How do you stop a dog from panting?

The best way to stop a dog panting is to find the root cause of why they are panting and remove it. Naturally, for dogs with breathing conditions, it’s going to be difficult to get them to stop panting.

If you’re out for a hike on a warm day or have finished a strenuous play session, check your dog. If your dog is panting heavily, it’s likely that they are just too warm. Cool refreshing water is always a brilliant way to rehydrate and cool down your dog. Another thing you can do is to take your furry friend for a swim. This is a really fast way to get your dog’s core temperature down fast.

Dogs stressed by visitors, will need to desensitize before they feel more comfortable facing that kind of situation. If your dog is scared of loud fireworks and storms, a soundproof dog house is a good solution. Another option is herbal pills, CBD oil, or a Thunderjacket. In extreme cases, medication from a veterinarian can be a great relief for your dog.

Giving your dog a quiet and calm space can help reduce anxious panting. Dog wraps, and herbal and vet-prescribed medications will help them to feel relaxed enough to fall asleep and quit panting.

You will also need to make sure your dog doesn’t have any medical condition for their panting.

When Should I Worry About Dog Panting?

Dog panting is usually normal and nothing to worry about. It helps dogs to cope with anxiety or aids in their temperature control. However, when a dog pants continuously, the pants are loud or accompanied by wheezing or coughing. This is a sign that something’s wrong, it’s especially true if your dog’s overweight or has any known breathing conditions.

dog pants

Dogs that do this might be showing signs of heatstroke or even poisoning. Heart failure, Cushing’s syndrome, or other respiratory disorders can cause excessive and loud panting. If loud panting is accompanied by abnormal behavior, then it’s important to contact your vet . You need to make sure that your dog’s panting isn’t a sign of a serious condition.

Final Thoughts

Panting is a normal part of a dog’s life, as pet parents, it’s a part of our life as well. Most dogs pant frequently, especially when active, or if you live in a warm climate and they have long hair.

When dogs pant for seemingly no reason, it’s usually a sign that something is wrong or your dog needs something. Many dogs will not have a serious issue. However, serious panting will may also include coughing, wheezing or their panting will be excessively loud.

For dogs, panting doesn’t always mean that something is wrong. It’s therefore important to know your dog’s personality, so that you notice any drastic changes in your dog’s breathing.

Check out our other related article, Why is My Dog Breathing Fast While sleeping? What You Need to Do, for more helpful information.

If you suspect your dogs panting has developed into a serious issue, contact your vet.

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close up of a happy dog panting



Understanding Panting: When Should You Worry?

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Why does My Dog Pant Heavily?


All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian's advice.
Jen Smart

Transforming anxious pups with her wealth of hands-on practical experience, and qualified in the following disciplines: Holistic Healing, Canine Anxiety & Therapy, Zoopharmacognosy, and CBD Oil for Animals

Founder of Anxious Canine and proud member of the Complementary Medical Association.

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