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Lifestyle

What’s normal when it comes to dog panting?

Learn what to do when you spot excessive panting in dogs.

The sound of your dog’s panting, which is rapid open-mouthed breathing (sometimes with their tongue out), is likely your cue to start packing up the frisbees and bring out a fresh bowl of ice-cold water. Generally, it's a way for our pups to let us know when they're tired or hot.

But dog panting isn’t always just a sign of a good workout. It’s actually a symptom of multiple conditions, like fear, anxiety and even fever, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, says. 

Why do dogs pant? 

Dogs most commonly pant to cool themselves off, Dr. McCullough explains. But that’s not the only reason behind this behavior. 

“Panting can also be caused by fear, anxiety, certain medications and strenuous exercise,” she adds. “Illnesses such as fever, heatstroke, pain and Cushing’s disease can also cause a dog to pant.”

If you’re experiencing warmer weather (or even a heat wave), know that hot temperatures can cause your pup to pant more. So during warmer days, ensure your dog has plenty of fresh water (dogs need 1 ounce of water for every pound they weigh) and a cool area to rest. On days hotter than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll want to monitor your pup outside and enforce quick bathroom breaks.

And keep in mind that some dog breeds just naturally pant more than others — for example, brachycephalic, or flat-faced, dogs like pugs typically pant more often as their anatomy makes it harder for them to breathe.  

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Excessive panting in dogs

Reach out to your veterinarian if your pup is excessively panting, especially when it’s cool weather. If their panting is accompanied by other symptoms like increased drinking and peeing, upset stomach, decreased appetite or abnormal behaviors, you’ll also want to call your veterinarian.

How to calm a panting dog

The first step in stopping your dog’s panting is to figure out what’s causing it. Talk to your veterinarian to determine the reason behind the panting — they’ll likely offer the best remedy. For starters, provide your pup with access to water and bring them into an area away from direct sunlight, Dr. McCullough recommends. 

To recap: Dogs usually pant to naturally cool themselves off (kind of like why humans sweat). However, panting can be caused by other factors, like anxiety or fever. And if you notice excessive panting in your dog, you’ll want to contact your veterinarian ASAP to rule out any serious underlying causes. In hot weather, always ensure your pup has access to cool, fresh water (if you’re traveling, be sure to bring their water bottle) and shaded areas to relax. 

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo. 

Photo by Ben Pitasky on Unsplash

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