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Panting in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Hematologic Disorders

Diseases that cause reduced oxygen-carrying capacity such as anemia or carbon monoxide poisoning often cause panting.

  • Hypercapnia (excess carbon dioxide in the blood) can be secondary to kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, diarrhea or shock.

    Neurologic Disorders

  • Head trauma or brain tumors may affect the respiratory center.

  • Dysfunction of the muscles of respiration may contribute to panting. Some examples include myasthenia gravis, nerve disorders with diabetes mellitus, and laryngeal paralysis associated with hypothyroidism.

  • Seizures and high body temperature can stimulate the respiratory center.


  • Certain drugs, such as diazepam, may cause panting.

  • High altitude is associated with decreased oxygen availability.

  • Abdominal pressure on the diaphragm caused by ascites(fluid in the abdomen), pregnancy or enlarged abdominal organs may cause difficulty breathing and panting.

  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease) may be associated with panting for several reasons. An enlarged liver puts pressure on the diaphragm, limiting the ability of the lungs to fully expand. Additionally, excessive cortisol stimulates panting, and pulmonary thromboembolism, a complication not infrequently seen with Cushing's disease, can cause difficulty breathing as well.

  • High body temperature secondary to any cause will contribute to panting.

  • Anxiety or excitement are more common "benign" causes of panting.

  • Hyperactivity secondary to hyperthyroidism or a pheochromocytoma, a tumor of the adrenal gland that makes too much adrenaline, can cause panting.

  • Pain associated with any disorder is often associated with panting.

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