It seems to most of us that our dogs constantly have their mouths open, panting. We notice that it seems to be louder or more obvious after running or playing, but other than that we may not give it much thought.
However, knowing why your dog pants is an important key to reading your dog in order to identify health and emotional states. Every dog owner should be paying attention to their dog’s “panting habits.” It could save their life.
Dogs use panting to regulate their temperature. This is why when they have been running or playing hard, they pant harder. Owners can use this cue to let them know when their dog needs a break to prevent “over doing it.” This is important, as many dogs will continue to “work” with their owner even if they are over-exerted. It’s our job to give them a break when they need it.
Along with temperature regulation, if you notice your dog panting excessively in warmer weather, it can be a sign of deadly heatstroke. Get your dog out of the heat and to a vet as quickly as possible.
“Overweight dogs tend to pant more,” says Amanda Cornell, CPDT-KA, owner of Accomplished Canines, “because their bodies have a harder time regulating heat.”
The best thing you can do for an overweight dog is diet and exercise. They will not only be more comfortable, but they will live longer.
Cornell also notes that “brachycephalic dogs pant more because they don’t get the same amount of air through their smushed noses.” As we know, these dogs are also more susceptible to the aforementioned heatstroke and being overweight is even more hazardous for these breeds.
According to Petmd.com, a lot of illnesses and poisons can cause your dog to pant. If you notice your dog is panting heavier or more than usual, you should take them to the vet for a check-up.
Therefore, it is good to notice what your dog’s normal panting is like, so you can be aware of changes. It is such an everyday occurrence that it is easy to not think about it. BUT it is important for your dog’s health that you pay attention. If you suspect abnormal panting, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Probably the least known, dogs will also pant more when they are stressed or fearful. Petmd.com says you can actually tell when an electric storm is coming by your dog’s panting.
“This is a normal fear response — dogs are easily startled by loud noises and bright flashes of light (such as with thunder and lightning).” (Petmd.com)
If you have a dog that is fearful or anxious, start paying attention to their panting. It can actually tell you a lot about your dog’s mood. Are you sitting in a nice, air conditioned obedience class and your dog is lying next to, seemingly calm, but panting heavily? Your dog is stressed and you need to change something in the environment to help ease her nerves.
Knowing more about your dog’s body and how it functions will make your dog happier and you a better owner.
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