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6 Common Reasons That Dogs Pant

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Dogs are enjoyable companions for humans because they are curious, active, and adventurous — all things that most people strive to be themselves. Our dogs encourage us to get out of the house and to explore our surroundings, where fresh air and vitamin D from the sun are abundant. They challenge us to be better leaders and to enhance our empathy. They also happen to do things that are sometimes puzzling to humans, such as panting. Why does a dog pant? Here are six common reasons and what you can do about it if anything.

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Excitement

victorian bulldog
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

Dogs tend to pant when they get excited. Whether their excitement is a result of their human companions coming home, a new adventure outdoors, or a group of kids playing around, dogs may start panting due to that excitement. The only thing that can be done to quell the panting is to take the dog away from the source of the excitement.

That said, if your dog is panting due to excitement and the excitement is not bothering anyone, there is no reason to stop the panting. The exception is if your pooch seems to be in distress or seems to be having problems breathing due to their panting. In these cases, a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible.


Stress

Catahoula Leopard Dog
Image Credit: SarahBriley, Pixabay

Another common reason that dogs pant is stress. When dogs feel cornered, threatened, or like they are in an unbearable situation that they cannot get out of, they may start to pant as a way of releasing the pent-up energy that the stress is producing. Panting can be a symptom of fear and anxiety too. Some common reasons that a dog might pant due to stress or anxiety include fireworks, visits to the veterinarian, being introduced to new and strange places, and separation from human family members.

Determining the source of the stress or anxiety and avoiding that source is important if you want to relieve your dog of their panting problem. If you are gone all day at work, consider hiring a dog walker to keep your pooch company during those away hours. If your dog does not like loud, unexpected noises, avoid activities that create those noises at home. You can also work with a trainer to get your dog used to new situations and teach them how to handle stressful circumstances.


Energy Exertion

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog running_Nick Chase 68_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Nick Chase 68, Shutterstock

Dogs will start to pant after exerting energy and warming up, whether while playing outside under the sun or when roughhousing with the kids indoors. The panting is done to cool off and reduce temperature levels so overheating does not occur. This enables them to play longer without getting too tired or hot and having to rest. Both younger and older dogs can pant due to energy exertion, and the only reason to worry is if signs of discomfort or health stress accompany the panting.

If your dog tends to pant too much while playing, slow things down and encourage less strenuous activities. Choose cool places to play with your pooch, where they will be less likely to heat up during activity. You can also teach the kids how to interact with your dog with slow-paced games and activities.


Heat

German shorthaired dog on the lawn
Image Credit: MVolodymyr, Shutterstock

The most common reason that dogs pant is due to heat. Since they cannot sweat as humans do, the only way they can cool themselves down is through panting. So, it makes sense that dogs pant while spending time in the sun without shade and during days when the weather is uncomfortably hot. Panting does not always work, though, and dogs that are exposed to extreme temperatures or too much sun are at risk of getting heatstroke.

The signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and unstable movements. To minimize the risk of heatstroke, dogs should have unlimited access to water anytime that they are outside or when the weather is hot. Shade should also be available when spending time under the sun. A kiddie pool full of water will help cool any pooch down and increase the fun factor when outdoors.

Related Read: 10 Best Cooling Dog Beds: Reviews & Top Picks


Pain

Dogs that are in pain tend to excessively pant as an outlet for that pain. The pain could be due to an injury, an infection, or a tooth problem. Dogs that pant due to pain also usually show other signs of the pain, such as restlessness, heavy breathing, licking the injury site, a lack of appetite, and whimpering. Visual signs of injury may or may not be apparent.

If you think that your dog is panting due to pain, inspect the animal’s body for signs of injury. If the injury is not significant, you may be able to treat it at home and provide relief with extra bedding and a quiet space in the house to rest. If you cannot determine what the pain is being caused by or if you find an injury that seems significant, it is important to schedule a veterinarian visit right away.


Ailments

English bulldog
Image Credit: AndreiTobosaru, Shutterstock

Ailments are another common reason that dogs might pant. Tumors can make dogs uncomfortable and result in stressed breathing and panting as a result. Heart failure and respiratory infections can also cause panting. Bloating, fevers, and Cushing’s disease are other ailments that your dog might try to deal with by panting.

Panting due to ailments is more typical in older dogs than in younger ones. But dogs of all ages may develop ailments and require the attention of a veterinarian. If you cannot determine any reason for your dog’s panting, it is safe to assume that the panting is due to an ailment and to act accordingly.

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Final Thoughts

Panting is a normal action for dogs. Some do it every day! It is important to know why your dog is panting, but in general, panting is nothing to worry about. Regular veterinarian visits and protection from heat and the sun will minimize the risk of panting due to heatstroke and health problems. What are the biggest reasons that you think your dog pants? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments section.


Featured Image Credit: Julian Popov, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.