If you’re a pet owner, you probably have a good idea of how much your dog pants.
There are plenty of healthy, normal reasons for a dog to be breathing hard; from temporary exertion, to excitement, or even to cool down. A dog doesn’t sweat the way human beings do, so panting is necessary to help them cool off. But, if your dog is panting and restless when not hot, it could be an indicator of a problem.
It’s not the same as ‘sweat,’ as you and I know it. But, the concept is similar. The quicker dogs can get rid of the excessive moisture, the faster they can cool down.
A normal rate for panting pups can be anywhere from 300 to 400 breaths per minute. While panting itself might seem like it’s burning up a lot of energy, it’s actually completely natural and calming in most situations. However, there is a difference between normal panting, and excessive heavy breathing and restlessness in dogs.
Again, normal panting occurs when your dog is trying to cool themselves down, or calm down. It can happen for a variety of reasons, and isn’t anything to worry about. However, there are signs of abnormal panting you can start to look for, including:
So, what are some common causes of abnormal panting and restlessness? If your dog isn’t overheated, and should otherwise be calm, but is still expressing abnormal breathing and restless behaviors, consider the following possible causes:
Sometimes, dogs will react to pain or discomfort by frequently panting. Your dog can’t simply come up to you and let you know that they’re not feeling great, or are in some kind of pain. So, panting is a good first indicator that something could be wrong. Keep an eye on your dog to see if they are panting excessively, or at ‘abnormal’ times, like in the middle of the night, when they are resting, etc.
Whether by car or plane, some dogs get stressed out and anxious about traveling. Sometimes, it’s easy to mistake this type of anxiety for excitement at first, especially if your dog is panting quite a bit. So, look for restlessness to go along with the heavier panting. If your dog seems generally anxious when they’re traveling, you may want to take steps to calm them. Other signs to look for are excessive drooling, barking, trembling, or even vomiting.
Hormonal issues in dogs can cause several serious problems. Excessive panting is a symptom to look out for, especially if your dog may be suffering from Cushing’s Disease. This typically occurs in older dogs when there is an excess level of the hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol works against your dog’s immune system, but it can be treated. Along with excessive panting, look for the following symptoms for hormonal imbalances:
Your dog’s diet can affect them in several different ways, including causing restless behavior. If you’ve recently changed your dog’s brand of food, or introduced something new to them, keep watch for any behavioral or physical changes.
Some foods can cause bloating and gas. That kind of discomfort not only can cause them to appear restless and anxious, but again, can make them pant excessively. If your dog looks as though their stomach is bloated, it’s important to get them to a vet as soon as possible.
Anemic dogs have a harder time allowing oxygen to flow through the body. Because of their reduced amount of red blood cells, they have to work harder to get oxygen where it needs to be in the body. If you have a dog with anemia, they’re likely to show signs of that ‘extra work.’ One of the major signs is excessive panting, along with lethargy, loss of appetite, and even occasional collapsing.
An anemic dog who doesn’t have treatment right away can be in serious danger. Some of these symptoms can even be fatal. Anemia is something that will likely have to be treated for your dog’s entire life, but it can be easily managed with the right kind of medication.
Keep in mind that some dog breeds are more prone to excessive panting. Breeds like Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, and Pugs have a predisposition toward breathing inefficiency, which typically needs to be handled on an individual basis.
However, if your dog is experiencing any of the abnormal symptoms listed above, and you feel as though they may have a larger issue, the best thing you can do is seek out treatment from a vet as soon as possible. For most health issues, medication can be prescribed. That’s why it’s so important to know as many of your dog’s symptoms as possible. Restlessness and excessive panting alone can mean a lot of different things. So, pay attention to the surrounding symptoms as well. The more you’re able to tell your vet, the better.
If your dog seems anxious or scared, due flight travel or other situations, there are different calming techniques you can put into practice. In extreme cases, you can also use various sedative-type medications for anxiety as well. Normal panting is nothing to be worried about. However, if your dog is panting and restless when they’re not hot, keep a close eye on them. If you notice other symptoms going hand-in-hand with their excessive panting, be sure to take the proper medical precautions.