Should I be worried if my dog pants a lot? Dave is a 15 year old Chihuahua, and lately I’ve noticed he’s been panting quite a bit. We have had some warm days recently, but the heat never seemed to bother him before. Should I put a fan on for him to keep cool?
Thanks for your question, and it’s always good to be aware of any changes and take some sort of action to figure out what’s going on.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why dogs pant
Dogs don’t sweat like we do, so they pant in order to cool off and regulate body temperature. Depending on the weather they’re either simply hot and need a drink and some rest in the shade, or it’s beyond that and they’re actually suffering from heatstroke. If that’s the case an emergency trip to the vet is in order.
If your dog could lose a few pounds, then the extra effort it takes to walk could explain his excessive panting. This article “I Don’t Know How to Help My Dog Lose Weight” will give you the tips you need to get your dog down to a healthy weight.
Maybe your dog is just so excited about FILL IN THE BLANK he’s jumping around and it’s causing him to pant.
Some of the causes could be –
- Build up of fluid in the lungs
- Bronchitis or pneumonia
Congestive heart failure/other heart issues
The most serious condition that causes excessive panting is congestive heart failure. My senior dog Red had a few heart problems, so panting was an issue we often dealt with.
If your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort, it can definitely cause panting. Maybe it was the way he got out of his bed one day or he hurt his leg on a walk.
Here are some common triggers for anxiety –
- Vision issues/loss
- Hearing issues/loss
- Separation anxiety
If your dog is losing his hearing/vision, it’s certainly understandable why he would be feeling anxious and be panting as a result. They do adapt in time.
The constant circling/pacing, confusion and changes in behaviour associated with dementia can all explain panting.
Your first step
You probably didn’t expect all this when you just asked a simple question!! I imagine you’re feeling some anxiety right about now, but please try to relax. There really could be a simple explanation for why your dog pants a lot.
Your first step should be to make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. If you can record a video of Dave panting it will be a big help when making a diagnosis.
A word of advice – you know your dog best, and if you feel something is “off” you are definitely right to look into it. if your vet dismisses your concerns and tells you it’s a natural part of aging, or you aren’t satisfied with how seriously or not he is taking your concern, please find one who will respect how well you know your dog.
Without a diagnosis we couldn’t discuss treatment options, but if you’re interested in learning more about dementia, this post “Why is There No Treatment for Dog Dementia” will give you a list of options. For more information on doggie dementia, please visit the dementia section on my website Caring for a Senior Dog.
Lorraine, I hope you have found this information helpful, and feel free to keep me posted on how your appointment goes.