Why Do Dogs Pant?
Why do dogs pant? The answer we all grew up with is that dogs pant when they’re hot, as a way to cool themselves down. They don’t have the sweat glands we have, so they’re panting to take on cool air and evaporate water in their mouths. They also tend to pant if they’re excited, and in an energetic mood. This is true. A panting dog is very probably a healthy dog. But panting can also be your dog’s way of telling you that he needs closer attention.
If his breathing and panting strike you as odd, try to find out what it is that’s bothering him. This is especially important now that summer is virtually here, higher temperatures are coming into play, and your dog is going to be panting much more often. If you have a flat-faced dog with a short snout, such as a bulldog, they may already struggle with breathing issues so keep an eye for if their panting is different from normal.
In all breeds, seriously heavy panting can be a sign of heatstroke. If that’s not a likelihood and the weather is mild, panting could be a sign of poisoning. Either way, get your pooch to the vet as soon as possible.
If your dog is older or is suffering from chronic illnesses or ailments, heavy panting is an indication that things may have taken a turn for the worse. You could be looking at heart failure or respiratory distress or serious illnesses such as pneumonia, and your dog’s panting is a distressed attempt to get air. Unusual panting is frequently a symptom of discomfort and/or pain so take heed - and use your intuition to judge whether your dog is in trouble and the urgency of your response.
In much older dogs, panting can be an expression of a kind of separation anxiety. If he manifests anxious behaviour such as pacing, and panting, or needing constant attention it may be his way of expressing fear. Try to calm him, by speaking to him gently, and feeding him a little treat when he relaxes and closes his mouth.
As summer approaches, keeping your dog cool is very important and being vigilant about this aspect of care is a way to show your dog just how much you love them.
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