Overview of Panting in Dogs
Panting is rapid, shallow respirations characterized by open-mouthed breathing, often accompanied by a protrusion of the tongue. It is seen commonly in dogs, and less commonly in cats.
A dog’s primary method of cooling is evaporative cooling from the respiratory tract through panting. When a dog pants it provides increased air flow over moist surfaces in the upper respiratory tract through rapid, shallow breathing. The increase in air flow causes an increase in evaporation from the upper respiratory tract. At the onset of panting, respiration rate increases rather suddenly from around 30-40 respirations per minute to around 300-400 respirations per minute. Under a moderate heat load a dog alternates between brief periods of panting at high frequencies and periods of normal slow respiration.
Panting may also be the result of other factors, such as fear, stress or disease. Some cause may include:
Panting may have little to no impact on the affected individual, especially in association with transient causes such as fear or stress. On the other hand, panting may represent a more severe, even life-threatening illness, therefore, should not be ignored and should be addressed if it persists or worsens.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Panting in Dogs
Before any testing is performed, consider any factors that may be causative such as heat, stress or over exertion and eliminate them from your pet’s environment. If your pet is still panting despite removing the possible cause, and/or signs are long standing or progressive, it is important to seek veterinary care.
Treatment of Panting in Dogs
Administer all prescribed medications and return for follow up evaluation as directed by your veterinarian. Keep your pet in a cool, stress free environment, and do not overexert your pet.
In-depth Information on Panting in Dogs
Panting is seen in both dogs and cats, but is more common in dogs. Panting is often seen associated with environmental changes such as anxiety, fear, excitement, exercise and heat. However, panting may reflect disease, and should not be ignored or assumed “normal” unless there are circumstances around the panting that suggest it is acceptable for the situation at hand. If your pet is panting excessively, or more often than normal, it is important to be evaluated by a veterinarian.
There are many causes of panting. Because panting may be a normal response to environmental and psychological events, it is quite feasible that no underlying illness exists and a full diagnostic workup is not in order. If, however, panting is excessive or your pet is in distress, it is important to identify an underlying cause.