Your dog may pant for reasons ranging from heat to discomfort. It is important to try to determine why your dog is panting, and you may need to have him evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the cause.
Normal Reasons for Panting
Dogs pant to cool down. While the climate may seem cool to you, it may be very warm to your dog, especially if he has a lot of hair. If he’s running around, he may also pant. Fear and excitement are relatively normal causes of panting and can indicate a stress response.
Underlying disease processes can trigger panting in your dog. Heart and lung conditions—including tumors and heart failure—can lead to your dog panting because of trouble breathing. If he is overweight or has an underlying hormonal problem like Cushing’s disease, he may pant. Panting is a common sign that your dog is in pain. If you notice Fido panting when he’s in the car, it could be due to anxiety in the car or, more commonly, nausea. You may notice panting when your dog is on certain medications, such as steroids.
Determining the Cause
Your veterinarian may be able to help you determine why your dog is panting based on a good physical exam and information about your dog’s history. Blood work on Fido may point to metabolic problems, while X-rays—or radiographs—can be used to evaluate the heart, lungs and trachea.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.