Are you waking up to hot doggy breath on your face rather than a nice hot drink to start your day? Do all dogs pant and is this normal? When does it become abnormal and problematic? Let’s dive straight into the world of doggy panting and explore just why your delightful Doodle might be panting so much.
Doodles pant to cool themselves down. When panting they expel some of their hot air in return for cooler external air. Panting is normal on warm days, after walks, exercise, and when excited. However, medical issues such as Cushing’s disease include panting as a symptom.
Doggy panting can be a tricky issue to figure out as there are a whole host of reasons your Doodle might be panting. Let’s look into this in more detail so that you can understand and hopefully help your dog should this be required.
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What Is Panting?
Put simply – it’s a dog’s way of cooling themselves down. Dogs cannot cool down in the same way we can (sweating) so instead, they pant. Panting is described as breathing with short, quick breaths, often accompanied by a loose tongue. Panting will normally present itself after some exercise, this may just be general playing as well as walks. It can also occur during hot humid weather. Dogs can develop heatstroke very quickly so it’s important to stay alert and keep your dog cool during hot spells.
Sometimes your dog may pant when it isn’t necessarily warm, or he hasn’t been exercised and you may need to pay more attention in these situations. Serious illness will normally have more than just the panting symptom so keep a lookout for other signs your dog isn’t quite right.
When Does Panting Become A Worry?
If you notice your Doodle panting more than usual or during times when he isn’t being physically active, then you may need to explore this further. Let’s look into some of the less common reasons for panting and see if any of these are the right fit for what your Doodle is presenting.
- Nervous or Anxious Behaviors: A dog who is feeling uneasy or frightened may start to pant and this shouldn’t be ignored. Try to get to the bottom of what is causing their reaction. It could be separation anxiety, a dislike of someone, a noise triggering this reaction, or something you can’t put your finger on. Dogs need reassurance just like their human owners and often struggle with fears of their own. Behavioral panting will often come accompanied by some other traits such as pacing, restlessness, and yawning.
- Feeling Unwell: A nauseated dog or one in some discomfort may begin panting as a coping mechanism. Often dogs will not look to be in any discomfort and can hide their pain for some time until it gets too much. A dog feeling sick may pant especially if they feel feverish.
- Brachycephalic Syndrome: Some dog breeds will be prone to panting due to their facial structures, in particular their flat noses. Such breeds include Pugs, Shih tzus, and Chihuahuas.
- Obesity and Heart Problems: Overweight dogs take more strain on their bodies than dogs in the normal weight range so it’s worth checking if your Doodle is overweight. Weight problems can cause heart problems so these two issues can go hand in hand.
- Allergies: Does your Doodle suffer from hay fever? This is more common in the dog world than most people realize. Hay fever or other such allergies can cause your dog to breathe faster.
- Respiratory Illness: Dogs suffering from illnesses such as pneumonia, chest infections, and bronchitis may also pant. There would usually be other prevailing symptoms such as coughing, gagging, and wheezing.
- Cushing’s Disease: A condition whereby a dog produces too much cortisol, this can be caused by benign or malignant tumors, or by excessive use of corticosteroid medications. Again, this would usually have other symptoms which include a pot belly, increased hunger, lack of energy, and thinning skin.
- Poisoning: We all know that our furry friends show no boundaries when it comes to discovering something edible on a walk. Dogs on leashes can be controlled but dogs that roam free will often explore their surroundings using their mouths! Your dog won’t recognize when something is bad for them so they may eat something poisonous only to regret it later. Poisoning usually includes other symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.
When to Seek Help
So, your Doodle is panting and you are concerned. Let’s break this down and work out when you should be worried. Doodles carry a lot of heat on their bodies and this is very important to remember. They may shed seasonally but they are still stuck wearing a fur coat during even the hottest summer months. So, on mild and hot days, you can fully expect your Doodle to feel hot and therefore pant. Make sure they have a cool area to lie in, with plenty of fresh drinking water.
It’s not warm, and my Doodle is panting so what do I do? Your best bet is using the process of elimination. Has your dog overexerted themselves? Are they excited? Yes, excited dogs can pant too – when a dog gets excited their heart rate increases, their breathing may become more rapid and panting will start. Calming your Doodle down and again offering water should ease this panting.
The sudden onset of panting can be more concerning and may need a more investigative approach to get to the root cause. Dogs can hear noises we may not – their ears are very sensitive so certain noises may have spooked them. Your dog may start panting as you are getting ready for work or bed – this may be your dog saying, “I’m anxious right now”. Dogs like humans have very complex emotions and they cannot vocalize their feelings as we can.
Personal Experience: My dog is sadly a very anxious pooch, anxieties have worsened the older he has got. He gets anxious at nighttime when he sees me preparing for bed. He also has some very weird and wonderful phobias including hot air balloons, the moon, the noise the wind makes from indoors, bangs (even car doors), fireworks, and thunder. Whenever he feels anxious, he will pant and become very restless. Over the years I’ve realized this is his norm because dogs, like people, have very different personalities and emotions.
Helping a Dog that Pants
When you have discovered the cause of your dog’s panting you can begin to find things to help. Some of the causes will need your vet’s intervention. For example, if they are ill or are injured. They may need x-rays, medication, or thorough examinations to get to the bottom of it. Any concerns you have please contact your vet. Sudden panting with no obvious cause should always be flagged up as not quite right.
You could start a journal and note down when your Doodle starts panting. Can you identify anything that triggered it? Does it happen at a certain time of day? How long did it last? How did it stop? Keeping consistent notes like this can help you identify what is going on with your dog which will help with the next steps.
Dog therapists can help with canine anxiety problems, but there are also lots of practical things you can do to support your pooch. Create a space that is just theirs, a safe space they can get to easily when they need to. Crates are good for this and if your dog is particularly nervous a comforter over the top to make it dark can help. Lots of reassurance and some background noise can help them too. Very anxious dogs can be given medication too, but this is best after exhausting other options.
My Doodle is panting so should I be concerned? Not necessarily, and we’ve differentiated between normal and abnormal panting now. For most dogs panting is a natural way of cooling down after getting too warm and calm. Cool space and a fresh bowl of water will solve this. Any sudden onset of panting, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms should always be investigated further in case it is a bigger problem than just trying to cool down.
Do Large Dogs Pant More?
All dog breeds are susceptible to panting from time to time and it is not defined by the size of a dog. However, an overweight dog may pant more during exercise than a dog in a healthy weight range.
How Much Should a Dog Pant After Exercise?
Panting is normal after exercise as it is your dog’s method of cooling down. Dogs don’t have sweat glands as we do, they sweat a little through their feet, so they also need other ways of cooling down. Once your dog has rested and had a drink you should notice a decrease in the intensity of the panting.