Most people are familiar with panting in puppies and dogs as their way of sweating. That's not the only reason your puppy might be panting, though. Although it might be your first reaction to become concerned when your pup is panting profusely, take into consideration the context. What is your puppy doing or what has she been doing that may have caused the panting? Take into account how she is acting, too.
The Stressed or Worried Pup
The situation your puppy is in when she is panting, as well as her other actions, can be cues to the cause of the panting. If she's licking her lips or hides her face under your arm or against your shoulder, she could be worried, stressed or even fearful. You may notice your pup pants during a thunderstorm or when she is at the vet's office.
Pleased and Panting
Your puppy not only barks as a way to communicate with you, she talks to you with her body language. Panting is included in the expressions a puppy uses to indicate that she is happy or excited. A panting puppy who has her front legs on the floor, her rear end in the air and her tail wagging is excited to play and is inviting you to join in.
If Your Pup's a Hot Dog
Yes, the most common reason for a puppy to pant is when she is hot. Panting helps disperse your puppy's body heat when it's hotter than is comfortable. This could be during and after a raucous bout of play or exercise -- much like you sweat under the same conditions -- or it could be because she's overheated. Some puppies are more sensitive when it comes to heat and may start panting before others do. Always make sure your puppy has plenty of fresh, clean water to lap at as needed and give her shelter from direct sunshine to keep the heat from becoming a health issue.
When Panting Should Concern You
If your puppy overheats and doesn't stop panting, even after a drink of water and a rest, she may be suffering from heatstroke. Other health-related reasons your puppy could be panting include poisoning, heart problems, breathing disorders -- like pneumonia or tumors in the lungs -- or if she has been injured and is in pain. If your puppy pants and her body language tells you that it's not because she is happy, scared or nervous, take her to the vet. It's always best to consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your puppy. It's better to have the vet examine a healthy puppy and find nothing wrong rather than thinking your pup's panting will subside when it's really an indication of a problem.
- WebMD: Why is My Dog Panting Heavily?
- Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month; Debra Eldredge and Liz Palika
- Tao of Puppies: How to Raise a Good Dog Without Really Trying; Krista Cantrell
- The Holistic Puppy; Diane Stein
- The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats; Editors of Prevention Health Books
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.