Have you been noticing your dog panting, but they haven't been playing or exercising? In this blog, our Fairfield, NJ vets share some potential reasons why your dog may be panting excessively and when you should bring them to the vet.
Panting in Dogs
You must be aware of your dog's normal respiratory (breathing) rate in order to spot abnormal breathing and panting in them. When sleeping, a healthy dog typically breathes between 15 and 35 times per minute. (By nature, an active dog will breathe more heavily and pant more). Therefore, anything above 40 breaths per minute when your dog is at rest is thought to be abnormal and should be looked into.
However, it's important to understand that panting is simply a way for your pet to cool off, regulate their body temperature, and let heat and moisture escape from their mouth, tongue, and upper respiratory tract. It's also important to understand that panting doesn't always indicate a problem.
Dogs aren't able to sweat to cool themselves off, instead, they have to breathe faster in order to let air circulate in their bodies. Panting helps your pooch get their body temperature back to normal.
Signs of Excessive Panting in Older & Younger Dogs
When your dog is relaxing or sleeping, count their breaths for a minute to determine whether they are panting excessively. To find out your dog's typical respiratory rate, you might want to do this even when you aren't concerned. Under 30 breaths per minute are regarded as normal; anything over 35 may be cause for concern and warrants a call to your veterinarian. Because of previous examinations, your veterinarian will be well-versed in your dog's typical respiratory rate.
Causes of Heavy Panting in Dogs
Breeds like Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs that have brachycephalic faces (dogs with "squished faces" or short snouts) are more likely to experience breathing problems. Owners of these dogs should always keep a close eye out for any indications of increased respiratory effort.
The ability to breathe normally can be a problem for breeds other than those with short noses. Regardless of the breed of your dog, excessive panting or rapid breathing may indicate that your canine companion needs immediate veterinary care because they are experiencing symptoms of an illness or injury. Dogs' rapid or labored breathing may result from a number of factors, such as:
- Smoke Inhalation
- Kennel Cough
- Stiffening of Airways
- Windpipe Issues
- Pressure on Wind Pipe
- Fungal Respiratory Infection
- Bacterial Respiratory Infection
- Lung Diseases such as cancer
- Laryngeal Paralysis
- Breed Characteristics
- Heat Stroke
- Compressed Lungs
- Collapsing Windpipe
When to Call Your Vet For Your Dog's Panting
If you notice your dog panting excessively while resting or breathing heavily while sleeping, they may be suffering from respiratory distress. If you notice your dog exhibiting any of the following symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. They will advise you on the steps you should take until you reach the animal hospital.
- Heavy, fast breathing that’s louder or different sounding than normal panting
- Their panting starts suddenly
- Open-mouthed breathing while at rest
- Reluctance to drink, eat or move
- Pale, blue-tinged, or brick-red gums
- Out-of-character drooling
- Noticeably labored breathing (engaging stomach muscles to help breathe)
Diagnosing The Cause of Your Dog's Excessive Panting
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination on your dog to determine the cause of excessive panting, which could be a problem with the heart, circulatory system, lungs, airway, neck, head, or another area. The state of your pup's overall health could also be a factor.
Your veterinarian will need to know about any previous medical issues your dog has had and may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check the heart, lungs, and abdomen for issues such as lung tumors or broken ribs.
The veterinarian will also watch your dog for any signs of anxiety, stress, or other psychological factors that could be causing the fast breathing.
Treating Excessive Panting in Dogs
The treatments used for your dog's excessive panting will be determined by the underlying cause of the issue. Your vet might prescribe pain relief, intravenous fluids, or other medications to help restore your dog to good health.
If your pup's heavy breathing is the result of anxiety or stress, your vet may recommend special training with a certified dog behaviorist.
Rest and oxygen therapy will almost certainly be required to get your dog on the road to recovery. While most dogs will be able to be treated at home, hospitalization may be necessary in some severe cases to monitor the dog's breathing and treat the underlying health condition.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.