Why Is My Dog Panting So Heavy?


It’s normal for dogs to pant, especially when they’re hot, fired up, or energetic. Heavy panting is various, however, and might be a sign your dog is alarmingly overheated, coping with a chronic health issue, or has experienced a fatal injury.

Here are answers to 3 crucial questions every dog owner should understand:

  • What are the common causes of heavy panting in dogs?
  • What can I do about them?
  • When is it time to see the veterinarian?

What Causes Dogs Pant Heavily

Panting helps dogs cool down when they’re hot or participated in a vigorous workout.

Dogs take in between ten and thirty breaths a minute, depending on their size. Get to know what your dog’s daily breathing and panting appears like so you’ll more quickly observe suspicious changes.

Some common factors dogs pant considerably include:

Heatstroke or Poisoning

It’s normal for a dog to begin breathing more difficult or panting after effort. Moreover, some dogs, like Boston terriers, bulldogs, and pugs, are susceptible to heavier breathing than other dogs because of their short snouts. Nevertheless, heavy panting is likewise an indication that a dog might be experiencing heatstroke or might have consumed a hazardous substance.

What to do

If you can’t discover any apparent reason for an unexpected change in your dog’s breathing, take him to a veterinarian instantly. If you presume heatstroke, first follow the steps at the end of this article to assist cool your dog securely.

Chronic health problem

Health problems like heart failure, Cushing’s syndrome, or respiratory disorders can all trigger heavy breathing or panting in dogs:

  • Heart failure: Like individuals, dogs can suffer from heart failure. Also, similar to people, dogs might show a few of the same symptoms, including breathing problem, minimized workout tolerance, and coughing. How your dog’s heart failure is treated depends on the cause. However, treatment may consist of medications such as ACE inhibitors and diuretics.
  • Cushing’s syndrome. This happens when a dog’s adrenal glands produce excessive cortisol. Together with heavy panting, symptoms can consist of extreme hunger and thirst, hair loss, and a pot-bellied look. Treatment varies, however, may consist of adrenal-suppressing drugs or surgery.
  • Respiratory conditions. Several respiratory disorders, such as laryngeal paralysis, pneumonia, and lung tumors, might all result in heavy breathing or panting. Treatment depends upon the condition and how far it’s advanced.
  • Injury and pain. Dogs can’t tell us with words when they’re in pain. So, it’s up to us to know what to look for. Heavy panting is one sign your dog may have suffered an injury.

Other signs of pain or trauma in pets include enlarged pupils, reduced hunger, an unwillingness to rest, uneasiness, anxiety, and licking or biting at the pain site.

Dogs may mask their pain with regular habits, such as wagging their tail. Moreover, an injury may be internal– for instance, as a result of being struck by an automobile. So if you presume your pet may be in pain, do not delay. Seek veterinary care right now.

Dog Panting From Feeling Hot

It is rather easy to acknowledge this panting as it’s often seen during the warm and damp summertime when Rover is out in the yard (perhaps laying on the cool flooring as he relaxes and observes kids playing). To much better understand this kind of panting, it helps to gain insight into what happens precisely in the dog’s body when it gets warms.

Similar to us, our dog’s bodies are specifically created to keep an ideal internal core temperature level effectively. It is thanks to the dog’s anterior hypothalamus, a particular area of the dog’s brain which acts similar to a right thermostat, that the dog’s body temperature level is kept within an optimal range. Obtaining balance– in a state of homeostasis– is all the body intends to.

Should the dog’s temperature rise, proper steps take place so that the body is successfully cooled off (through panting), and should the dog’s temperature lower, special procedures will occur so that the dog’s body is efficiently warmed up (though shivering). This essential phenomenon is described as “thermoregulation.” By panting with the mouth open, dogs are cooling down courtesy of evaporation as the moist surfaces of the mouth help decrease the dog’s core temperature.

Dogs are more susceptible to feeling warm compared to human beings for several factors. To start with, their bodies are covered in fur, and secondly, dogs tend to have a naturally higher temperature than people (101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit versus 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in people). See your vet if your dog’s temperature level is higher than usual. On a hot and humid day, this might be a sign of heat stroke.

Dogs who are panting from feeling hot will generally look for methods to cool down such as sleeping on tile floors, seeking shade or sticking their go out of a window if they are riding in the cars and truck.

The accompanying body language of a dog who is slightly hot is generally unwinded. The ears and face are unwinded; the eyes look soft while the tongue is hanging out loosely– either straight out or to the side. See your vet if your dog is panting and seems in discomfort.

Dog Panting From Exercising

Panting throughout or after exercise is an overheating that happens internally, but there might also be an external element at play if the dog has been exercising in warm weather or a place with not much ventilation.

In this scenario, contractions of the dog’s muscles are what generates the heat. The context in which this kind of panting happens is rather obvious: the dog has been playing with other dogs at the dog park or enjoying a fun video game of bringing with the owner.

Dogs that are panting from exercise will not appear tense and will look relaxed. Their tongue lolls out loosely from the effect of gravity. The lips are kept somewhat retracted with a downward, relaxed droop. The nostrils quiver ever so lightly as the dog exhales.

These dogs frequently have a delighted, practically satisfied search their faces. If we think about it, it’s quite natural for dogs who exercise to rejoice as they get to do what they like doing the most which are to run around, check out, and play.

Dog Panting From Emotions

Dogs are psychological beings and getting worked up from intense feelings may also activate some panting episodes. What activates this kind of panting is typically the accompanying adrenaline rush that gets, once again, the dog’s body out of homeostasis. With an increased heart rate and respiratory rate, the dog’s body attempts to bring back a state of normalcy.

Emotions that can activate this function in dogs include unfavorable emotions such as stress, stress, and anxiety, and worry; however also happy feelings such as enjoyment and anticipation. Taking note of context once again is essential.

If your dog begins panting throughout a thunderstorm, chances are, your dog is worried by this event. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety are also understood to pant when their owners manifest first pre-departure hints (picking up keys, placing on shoes), and the condition often persists once the owners leave home. Lots of dogs are known to act by doing this at the vet’s office, too.

Then you have those happy dogs that pant heavily when they see the leash and prepare for going on a walk, going on a vehicle ride or greeting their owners when they get back.

On top of context, the dog’s accompanying body language might offer some insights as to what might be going on in the dog’s mind. Typically, in dogs who are stressed or in a state of worry, the lip retraction is quite significant, and the dog’s teeth will be more visible.

When there is tension, the ears might be set back, the pupils of the eyes may appear dilated, and there might be facial stress. On top of that, the tongue is no longer sticking out in an unwinded state due to gravity; however, it’s rather tense (the tongue is a muscle after all!) with curved edges in what is called “spatulate tongue.”

Panting From Trouble Breathing

Some medical conditions might likewise cause panting in dogs. In particular, dogs suffering from some respiratory or cardiovascular conditions might pant as a manifestation of troubled breathing.

The dog may appear nervous or in distress. The dog may be breathing with an open mouth and with the neck extended. Dogs in respiratory distress might likewise have a problem lying down in particular positions and might prefer to sit, lie down on their stomach (sternal recumbency), or stand with their elbows broad apart.

A medical condition that hinders the dog’s capability to breath effectually is called laryngeal paralysis. In this condition, the muscles that generally pull the dog’s respiratory tracts open stop working to function correctly, resulting in increased panting episodes (typically out of context such as when it’s, and the dog is calm), loud panting, and the beginning of a raspy-sounding bark.

As the condition advances, affected dogs need to work more difficult to breathe. The breathing becomes significantly loud. Affected dogs may appear anxious, and the facial expression becomes tense with the lips pulled back as if they are “smiling.”.

On top of laryngeal paralysis, other respiratory and cardiovascular conditions that might cause panting in dogs include infiltrative pulmonary disease, scarring of the lungs (fibrosis), fungal infections, pneumonia, a mass in the throat or neck, cancer, heart disease, heart murmurs and arrhythmias, and pulmonary hypertension.

Dog Panting From Pain

On top of panting from breathing problems, it’s essential to recognize that dogs may likewise do so when they are feeling pain. Dog owners may assume the dog is simply getting old or sensation hot.

The facial expression of dogs in this condition is frequently tense. Some dogs panting from pain might sit in front of the owner almost in hopes of getting some attention or peace of mind. Others may do so and change positions regularly in hopes of discovering a way to relieve their discomfort.

This might be seen in dogs suffering from orthopedic, abdominal (for example the internal pain caused by pancreatitis or dangerous bloat which might trigger breathing issues too since the distended stomach puts pressure on the diaphragm) or spinal problems.

Dogs who are likely panting in pain need to see the vet for correct medical diagnosis and treatment. Diagnostic tests may include x-rays, CT scan, MRI, and ultrasound. A trial of pain meds can be done to see whether the panting episodes go away with pain control.

Panting From a Fever

Dogs tend to feel warm as a result of 2 accurate circumstances; being exposed to a warm external environment (non-pyrogenic hyperthermia) as it occurs in the dog days of the summer (as discussed above) or an outcome of internal conditions as it might take place when a dog runs a fever (pyrogenic hyperthermia). The term pyrogenic originates from the ancient Greek word pûr, meaning “fire/heat” and the word gen, meaning “a manufacturer of something.” The medical term for fever is pyrexia.

The average temperature in dogs is between 100.5 and 102.5. Dog owners can examine a dog’s temperature level at home using a regular digital thermometer for humans. The reading should be taken rectally by inserting the thermometer an inch up from the silver pointer, discusses veterinarian Dr. Debbie. To assist in insertion, it helps to lube the silver suggestion with a little bit of vaseline or K-Y lubricant.

A temperature higher than usual might necessitate investigation by a vet. Fever in dogs can be brought on by numerous conditions such as infections (abscesses, urinary tract infections, fungal infections) and tick-borne diseases (Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever).

Dog Panting From Medications

If your dog is panting after starting a new medication, there are possibilities that this condition might be an adverse effect. Frequently side effects are noted in the medication’s bundle insert, so going through might be insightful.

Steroids are well-known for causing increased drinking, increased urination and panting episodes in dogs. Examples of steroid drugs include prednisone, prednisolone, and dexamethasone.

Opioids likewise can potentially trigger panting as these drugs affect the thermoregulatory center in the hypothalamus of dogs. Other drugs that are understood for triggering this condition include diazepam and tramadol.

There are several other prospective causes of panting. The list is not exhaustive but encompasses some of the most common causes of panting in dogs. Since the reasons are lots of, it is always highly recommended to have a veterinarian sort things out for correct medical diagnosis and treatment.


Dogs who are obese will tend to pant more. Just as in people, excess fat is connected with impaired lung function. Dogs who are obese might find themselves easily exterted when compared to slimmer dogs.


Aging in dogs might trigger a boost in panting due to the reality that dogs might not be oxygenating as well as when they were younger. However, this condition ought to be checked out as there might be underlying medical aspects activating it.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

In other words, doggy Alzheimer’s disease may also trigger increased panting in older dogs. This progressive disease discovered in older dogs triggers numerous behavioral changes.

Impacted dogs may develop sleep cycle disturbances with nightly pacing, episodes of panting, inability to get comfortable and other cognitive changes such as forgetting how to head out to potty, getting stuck in corners and ignoring spoken hints.

Cushing’s Disease

Hyperadrenocorticism, more frequently known as Cushing’s disease, is a typically identified endocrine disorder affecting dogs. High cortisol levels in the bloodstream trigger this condition.

Extreme quantities of cortisol circulating in the dog’s body are understood to trigger muscle weakness, panting, increased drinking and increased urination, thinning of the skin, hair loss, and predisposition to infections and diabetes.

Neurological Issues

In some cases, neurological issues may be at play when a dog is panting excessively. In older dogs who are panting and exhibiting uncommon behaviors or have a recent beginning of seizures, a brain mass may be a possibility. This would need an MRI to identify; nevertheless, brain masses in dogs are generally not amenable to surgery.


Dogs do not suffer from high blood pressure as much as humans do; however, it might happen secondary to other medical conditions such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or kidney issues. Just as in humans, blood pressure measurements can be taken. The underlying cause would require to be dealt with to deal with panting due to high blood pressure in dogs.

Panting After Giving Birth

Numerous dogs pant after giving birth and dog owners wonder whether it’s an indication of difficulty or not; this may be because of several problems. For instance, being surrounded by lots of pups might cause mom dogs to feel hot. While nursing, the release of oxytocin triggers moderate contractions in mom dog’s uterus which can cause panting, describes vet Jon Rappaport in a post for Pet Place. It can also signify tiredness (delivering is quite tedious!) or stress.

Nevertheless, this condition should not be overlooked in a new mother dog because it might be because of other possible problems. The mommy dog may be in pain, or she might be running a fever. A fever in a dog who delivered can be indicative of numerous problems such as kept placentas and milk fever likewise referred to as eclampsia. See your veterinarian for appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment.

Intake of Toxins

Panting may be indicative of consumption of some contaminant or toxin. Dogs are prone to eating the oddest things, and a dog who is panting and in discomfort might have consumed something that it shouldn’t have.

Young puppies and young dogs are particularly susceptible to ingesting toxic substances due to their curious nature; however, some adult dogs who are indiscriminate eaters might frequently get in the problem too.

Heavy breathing or deep, intense panting can likewise be a symptom of eclampsia, also called milk fever. Eclampsia is a dangerous condition that affects nursing moms; low blood calcium levels result in an inability to stand or stroll and tremblings. Moreover, allergies, infection, or irritation within the respiratory tracts can trigger wheezy, noisy breathing in dogs.

No matter what breathing your dog typically has, any inexplicable change — whether heavy panting, coughing, or wheezing– regularly ranks a call to your vet.

Heatstroke and Your Dog – Is Most Dangerous Reason of Heavy Panting

Overheating is a medical emergency — and among the most severe factors for heavy panting in dogs. If you think your dog has heatstroke, a fast reaction can be lifesaving.

Symptoms of heatstroke include extreme panting, glassy eyes, weakness, fast heart rate, drooling, seizures, throwing up, diarrhea, and a body temperature level over 104 F. If possible, take a rectal temperature. You wish to stop once the temperature is back down to 103.

If you believe your dog may have heatstroke, here’s what to do to assist:

  • Move your dog inside or to a dubious spot.
  • Immerse your dog in cool water (avoid cold water, which constricts blood vessels) or apply ice packs or cold towels to your dog’s chest, neck, and head. Don’t spray your dog with a lawn pipe– on hot days the water inside a tube can reach near boiling temperatures. You want to cool him off slowly.
  • Offer your dog cool, not cold, water. Alternatively, offer him ice cubes to lick.
  • After you’ve started cooling your dog down, take your dog to the veterinarian right away.

The best method to manage heatstroke is to prevent it. Never leave your pet in a parked vehicle. It’s better to leave your pet at home than to run the risk of heatstroke. At home, be sure to provide all pets with shade and water or a way to enter during the hottest part of the day.

When to See a Vet

Remember, panting is normal for a dog after exercise, excitement, or when it’s hot.

Call your vet instantly if any of the following uses:

  • Your dog’s panting starts all of a sudden.
  • You think your dog may be in pain.
  • The panting is constant and intense.
  • Your dog’s tongue or gums appear blue, purple, or white — a sign your pet isn’t getting sufficient oxygen.

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