Panting in Dogs


Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to insure optimal medical care. These are selected on a case-by-case basis.

  • A coagulation (clotting) profile should be considered when blood in the lungs or chest cavity is thought to be the cause of panting.
  • Thoracocentesis (withdrawing fluid or air from the chest cavity) should be considered as both a diagnostic and therapeutic tool in the panting patient.
  • Transtracheal wash/bronchoalveolar lavage should be considered when certain respiratory disorders are suspected in the patient. Both procedures assess cells/fluid/tissue from the lower respiratory tract for the presence of tumor, inflammation or infection. These are relatively benign procedures that may be performed at your local hospital, although in some cases it may be performed at a specialty facility.
  • Bronchoscopy, or evaluation of the inside of the trachea and bronchi with a scope, is recommended in selected cases. The procedure necessitates general anesthesia, and usually requires a specialist. It helps visualize the inside of the bronchi directly, and may be a tremendous benefit in certain cases. It is usually best to have the procedure performed by a specialist.
  • Pulmonary scintigraphy (injection of a radioactive substance) may be helpful in trying to identify pulmonary thromboembolic disease.
  • Computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be indicated if central nervous system disease is suspected. These procedures necessitate transport to a specialty facility and general anesthesia and are generally quite costly.
  • An acetylcholine receptor antibody titer (ARAT) may be recommended if myasthenia gravis is suspected. Generally, concurrent signs of illness, such as weakness, regurgitation and possibly pneumonia are usually seen.

Therapy In-depth

One or more of the diagnostic tests described above may be recommended by your veterinarian. In the meantime, treatment of the symptoms might be needed, especially if the problem is severe. The following nonspecific (symptomatic) treatments may be applicable to some, but not all pets with panting. These treatments may reduce severity of symptoms or provide relief for your pet. However, nonspecific therapy is not a substitute for definitive treatment of the underlying disease responsible for your pet’s condition.

  • Treating the underlying cause is recommended if possible.
  • If the patient’s panting is thought to be a normal response to something environmental, no specific treatment other than removing the problem is warranted.
  • Symptomatic therapy should be instituted while attempting to identify the underlying cause.
  • Oxygen therapy and strict rest is of benefit to many of these individuals, especially if they are becoming distressed.
  • Fluid therapy is indicated in those who are dehydrated or have concurrent systemic diseases.
  • Blood transfusions may be indicated if the patient is panting secondary to anemia.
  • Antibiotic or anti-inflammatory therapy may be of benefit in those with infectious or inflammatory disorders.


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