Pups and Ponderings: Why Dogs Pant

Luke and Sadie, my nature teachers Lisa A. Wisniewski

Luke and Sadie, my nature teachers
Lisa A. Wisniewski

Science allows us to ask questions and nature often gives us a means to find answers to these questions. Sometimes our questions are inspired by life experiences.  My dogs, Luke and Sadie, are a very large part of my life, and as members of the animal kingdom, they are a part of nature.

As a way to keep this blog fresh, I thought I might occasionally share questions and answers inspired by Luke and Sadie.  These segments will be called Pups and Ponderings, and I will try to keep the content brief, but informative and of good quality.

Why Do Dogs Pant?

The other night I was awakened by the sound of Luke and Sadie panting.  Luke’s pant was quick and heavy, Sadie’s fast but lighter.  I wondered why they were panting.  Then I realized I was soaked with sweat from the heat and humidity of the night.

Most likely, Luke and Sadie were panting to cool their bodies.  Dogs do not have sweat glands like humans and have to use different means to cool down.  Panting is one way for dogs to circulate necessary air through their bodies to cool themselves and prevent heat related illness.

Luke panting Lisa A. Wisniewski

Luke panting
Lisa A. Wisniewski

Other Reasons Dogs Pant

Other reasons dogs pant include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Stress
  • Allergic reactions
  • Illness
  • Needing to relieve themselves

In Luke’s case, he may have also been panting because of thunderstorms in the area.  Luke is fearful of storms and can sense them coming miles away.

Sadie panting and pacing Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sadie panting and pacing
Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sadie may have also been panting because she has a slight case of separation anxiety.  She often sleeps at my feet on the bed, but on this particular night, it was too warm to have her lying on my feet, so I asked her to lie on the floor at the foot of the bed instead.

What to Do for Excessive Panting

Since Luke and Sadie have been a part of my life for some time now, I know their breathing patterns and what to do if they pant excessively.  Often I will turn on a fan to help cool the house; take them outside for fresher, cooler air and give them the opportunity to relieve themselves; and talk to them to help calm any anxiety or fears.

Luke and Sadie, my Dynamic Duo Lisa A. Wisniewski

Luke and Sadie, my Dynamic Duo
Lisa A. Wisniewski

It is important to know your pet’s typical actions and reactions and to be able to keep these actions and reactions from becoming more stressful for either your pet or for you.  Some tips for dealing with excessive panting include:

  • Spending time with your pet
  • Staying calm
  • Seeking assistance from your veterinarian
  • Monitoring your pet for changes in behavior
  • Removing your pet from the cause of the panting

Resources and Related Links

Why dogs pant – http://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/evr_dg_why_do_dogs_pant
Dog panting and distress – http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/06/06/dogs-panting-can-be-a-sign-of-distress/
Tips for excessive dog panting – http://www.natural-dog-health-remedies.com/dog-panting.html

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