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A Pooch’s Point of View: Why Does My Dog Pant?

Our dogs often pant! But why? We take a look from a pooch’s point of view to find out!

Phew! It’s really hot today and I can’t sweat through my skin like humans do because I’m covered in a warm coat all year round! I can sweat a little through the pads on my feet, but that doesn’t do much to keep me cool in the hot weather.

But it’s OK, because dogs have another way of keeping cool; yes, it’s panting!

Why do Dogs Pant?

Some people think we’re struggling for air when we pant, but don’t worry, we’re fine; it’s our way of regulating our body temperature - remember we can’t take our clothes off like humans do when they are hot!

I normally have a good pant if the weather is very hot (like it is today), or if my owner has taken me on a very long walk and we’ve had a great playtime chasing balls and playing hide and seek in the woods - I just love it, but it does make me hot.

What Does Panting Look Like?

What does panting look like ?

When I pant, my mouth will be open, my tongue will be hanging out and I’ll be taking rapid short breaths. Panting allows all the hot air in my lungs out and all the cool air in and evaporates the water from inside my mouth - so it’s important that I have a lot to drink to replace the water I lose! My human best friend is very thoughtful and always has plenty of water when we go out walking, and again when we get home. They never take me out in the middle of the day when it’s the height of summer; instead we either go out early in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler.

I do try to drink from puddles when we’re out - it tastes so much better than that tap water which has some chlorine in it. But my owner always pulls me away from puddles because they say it’s not good for me - and it can make me sick. Apparently ponds and puddles can get contaminated by other animals and can contain bacteria or algae. I don’t like the sound of that!

I’ve got a doggie friend that I meet in the park sometimes - he’s a French Bulldog - and he pants quite a lot because he has a short snout, so his owner has to be very careful not to take him out when it is very hot or let him run around too much.  Apparently, it’s just the same for other short snouted dogs too, like Boston Terriers and Pugs.

Other Reasons why I Pant

I do pant for other reasons too:

  • Sometimes, I pant when I get anxious or nervous, like when I have to go out in the car. I’m not very keen on traveling in a tin box at a fast speed! All the trees pass by very quickly and if I try to watch every tree I get car sick, which is not very pleasant at all. But my owner did his best to get me used to the car, and sprays ADAPTIL Travel in the car 15 minutes before I’m allowed in the car which helps me relax, so I’m not as anxious about going in the car as I used to be. I have a nice crate that I snuggle into and there’s a blanket over the top so that I can’t see those trees!
  • I really don’t like loud noises either, and every year, I start shaking and panting when I hear fireworks; there must be a lot of my doggie friends all over the world who feel just the same, because I know that different countries have firework celebrations at different times of the year. That’s a lot of nervous dogs and I hope that all of their owners use an ADAPTIL Calm Diffuser for them, too - it certainly helps me to keep calm indoors, and I’ve even got an ADAPTIL Calm On-The-Go Collar which I wear when I go out.
  • When I get excited I sometimes pant too! It’s quite normal when something exciting happens, like meeting new people or waiting for a treat. This type of panting is rapid and shallow, and I sometimes can’t help whining or whimpering and wagging my tail just to show that I’m really excited! But don’t worry, once I’ve said hello or had my treat, I calm down quite quickly and stop panting.

Why my dog pant ?

When to pay Attention to my Panting

There are occasions when we dogs pant, that you humans have to watch out  for - sometimes it means that we need help!

Difficulty in breathing: If we are breathing very quickly and shallowly when there’s no obvious reason for us to be panting (we might also be making different sounds to normal like squeaks or crying) take us to the vet to be checked out pronto!

Heatstroke: Do NOT leave us in the car in summer months! Cars can be like ovens and we will have difficulty in breathing normally. So if you see a fellow pooch that is panting, has wide, glazed eyes, and a fast heart rate, please move them to a cool spot and contact a vet if they do not recover immediately. My owner always makes sure that a window is open to let fresh air into the car when we go for a drive, or they turn the air conditioning on, but they are always very careful that I am never left alone in the car when it is hot.

We might be feeling under the weather: Sometimes panting can mean that we have an underlying condition - we might be allergic to something, are in pain, or it could indicate we have a respiratory or cardiac condition that needs to be checked out. So, if you notice that we are quieter than usual or that we are struggling to exercise, get us checked out at the vet.

Overweight: This doesn’t apply to me, of course, because I’m a lean, mean, canine machine! But I have noticed that if I put a little bit of weight on, I will pant a little more or have to sit down to cool off. So it’s best to make sure we have regular exercise to keep that extra weight off.

Consider our Body Language

Dog body language

As you can see, a dog panting can mean lots of different things, but please don’t panic - always take into account our body language to help you decide why we are panting. If we avoid looking at you and our eyes are wide but tired looking, and if we are yawning as well as panting, this could be a cue that we are feeling stressed. However, when we are panting and excited, our tail will be wagging and we might do a little dance to keep your attention!

If you are close to your pooch (like I am with my owner) you will be able to tell if they are feeling excited, nervous or feeling under the weather.

And don’t forget ADAPTIL Calm On-The-Go collar - it won’t stop me panting, but it sure helps me relax so that I won’t pant because I’m feeling anxious.

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