Have you been noticing your dog panting, but they haven't been playing or exercising? In this blog, our Liberty Lake vets share some potential reasons why your dog may be panting excessively and when you should bring them to the vet.
Rapid Panting in Dogs
To recognize abnormal breathing and panting in your dog, you must first understand your dog's healthy respiratory (breathing) rate. When resting, a healthy dog will take 15 to 35 breaths per minute on average. (By nature, your dog will pant and breathe more heavily when exercising). As a result, anything above 40 breaths per minute while your dog is at rest is considered abnormal and should be investigated.
Although, it's essential to know that panting doesn't always point to an issue and that it's your furry friend's way of cooling themselves down, regulating their body temperature, and letting heat and water evaporate from their mouth tongue, and upper respiratory tract.
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 its body temperature back to normal.
Signs of Excessive Panting in Both Older and Younger Dogs
Count your dog's breaths for a minute while they are resting or sleeping to see if they are panting heavily. (You might also want to do this when you aren't worried, to determine your dog's normal respiratory rate). Anything under 30 breaths per minute is considered normal; anything above 35 is cause for concern and should be discussed with your veterinarian. Based on previous examinations, your veterinarian will have a good understanding of your dog's normal respiratory rate.
Causes of Heavy Panting in Dogs
Brachycephalic dog breeds, (breeds with 'squished faces' or shortened snouts), such as Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs face a higher risk of developing breathing issues and should always be closely monitored by pet owners for signs of increased respiratory effort.
Short-nosed breeds aren't the only ones who have trouble breathing normally. Heavy panting or rapid breathing, regardless of breed, could indicate that your dog is suffering from an illness or injury that necessitates immediate veterinary care. Among the possible causes of fast or heavy breathing in dogs are:
- 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, it 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 his excessive panting, which could be a problem with the heart, circulatory system, lungs, airway, neck, head, or another area. The state of your dog's overall health could also be a factor.
Your vet will need to know about any previous medical issues that your pooch has experienced 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 are likely to 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 required 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.