We all know that dogs pant a lot of times. But, the question is ‘when is panting normal and when it is not?’. What if panting is accompanied by restlessness or constant pacing? Is your pet sick or is it just feeling the heat? Together, let us explore these issues and find an answer to your question ‘why is my dog panting and restless?’
What Is Normal Panting?
The merocrine sweat glands are found on their paws and are almost similar to your sweat glands. Every time your dog feels the heat, it sweats through the paws to help it cool down. But, that is not enough to completely lower down your pet’s temperature.
To answer your question, why is my dog panting and restless? It is for evaporative cooling.
So, when your dog feels the heat or you take it out with you to exercise, it pants to cool itself. Each time you see your dog breathing hard, it encourages water to evaporate from its tongue and nasal passages. These, in turn, lower down its body temperature.
On the other hand, the apocrine sweat glands which are found on your dog’s hair follicles manufacture sweat but not for cooling down. Rather, this type of sweat gland produces pheromones so dogs can smell their kind, so to speak.
The other reasons why your dog pants and acts restless are due to excitement and fear.
Those two emotions increase your pooch’s heart rate and that is why you see and hear it pants.
A lot of dogs pant when they experience fear of thunderstorms and fireworks and Vet visits.
And when they are excited? Yes, dogs pant, too when they are happy. Your dog would pant if it excitedly plays with you or other animals. ‘Happy panting’ is accompanied by a wagging tail, bright and happy eyes. A lot of dog parents look at mild panting with bright eyes as a doggie smile.
Once things calm down, expect the panting to slow down and stop.
But, when should you get alarmed about your pet’s panting and restlessness?
What Is Abnormal Panting?
We know that it can be pretty hard to decipher whether your dog’s panting is a sign of sickness. It may even be hard to tell if the panting is heavier than usual. Our tip for you is to observe your pooch after exercising to gauge its normal panting. If you notice that your dog is panting even if it did not exercise, you can more or less compare and observe if the panting warrants a visit to the Vet.
Take note though that for brachycephalic dog breeds like a Pug, panting is usually heavier compared with other dogs. This is due to their short nasal passages that restrict airflow.
In the same way that obese dogs also have a harder time breathing because of the excess fat presses on the neck which also restricts airflow smoothly. This is why you ‘know thy dog’ is important in assessing whether panting is normal or abnormal.
Here is a short list of why you have to worry if your dog is panting and restless:
- It pants even if it is not hot
- Your dog is at rest
- Panting is accompanied by lethargy and unresponsiveness
- Dog panting at night
- Dog hyperventilating
- Dog’s gums are purple or pale white
- Panting sounds raspier and louder
If your pet shows any of the above symptoms, taking it to the Vet is highly recommended. Only the professional can pinpoint the exact reason why your pet is exhibiting some of those stated above.
Reasons That Cause Abnormal Dog Panting and Restless
Itemized below are the possible culprits why your dog is panting and restless. Some of these conditions may also cause your dog to hyperventilate that is why it is of utmost importance not to leave your dog alone each time you see it panting heavily.
The longer you allow your dog to exercise outside of your home during the summertime, the chance of suffering from heatstroke gets higher.
If you notice your dog is drinking more than usual, has glazed eyes, elevated heart rate, and it is panting and restless, then that is a sure sign that your dog had too much physical activity.
It is also possible to see your dog hyperventilating when it is suffering from heatstroke. Why? Because in an attempt to lower down its body temp, it pants extra harder.
If heat stroke is not addressed asap, your pet may collapse and may even die.
Why is your dog panting and restless even if it did not engage in physical activity? Could it be that you place rat poison around the house? Did you spray household chemicals for bugs? Did you spray or sprinkle some chemical fertilizer on your garden? These are some of the questions you may want to think about that can help you find an answer as to ‘why is my dog is panting and restless?’.
Usually, it will take a couple of hours after the ingestion of poisonous substances before your pooch shows bizarre behaviors. The first of which is panting and restless behaviors.
3. Pain From Injury
Did your dog had a recent accident? If yes, then the pain is the cause of its abnormal panting and restlessness. It is also possible for senior dogs to pant as a result of joint pains.
Also, if your pooch is going through some kind of physical discomfort like urinary tract pain, some of the manifestations are panting and restless behaviors.
The same can be said if your dog has some issues in its gastrointestinal system. You know that feeling when something is not right in your tummy. You feel nauseated and uneasy. That same feeling is what your dog goes through if it has stomach irritation issues.
Panting and restlessness like pacing are the ways your dog does to deal with the discomfort.
A high degree of pain may also cause your dog to hyperventilate as a result of an increased heart rate.
4. Side Effects of Medicines
Some of the prescribed meds your pooch are taking may be causing your dog discomforts like nausea and vomiting.
Ask the Vet ‘why my dog is panting and restless’. Is it because of the medications? Here are some of the meds that can exacerbate panting and restlessness:
- Corticosteroids may make your dog feel extremely thirsty, hungry, and the need to urinate often. These side effects can lead to anxiety. And, the two signs of an anxious dog are panting and restlessness.
- Not all dogs have the same reactions to antihistamines. Some get sleepy while some get hyper and restless.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). These meds may relieve your dog from the pain but the side effect is gastrointestinal discomfort like nausea. As a result, you see your pet becomes restless and eventually pants
Other Health Conditions That Cause Panting and Restless Behaviors
1. Congestive Heart Failure
This can be described as the heart’s inability to pump an adequate supply of blood to the body. The two causes are mitral valve insufficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy.
The most common signs of congestive heart failure in dogs are persistent coughing with breathing difficulty, excessive panting, and dog hyperventilating.
2. Lung Problem
Respiratory problems like pneumonia and lung tumors cause dogs to breathe harder and pant. The lungs are the organs that transfer oxygen to your dog’s bloodstream, But, a lung problem prevents this from happening leading to oxygen deprivation.
3. Cushing’s Syndrome
This is a hormonal imbalance that is commonly seen among middle-aged and senior dogs. This is caused by an overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands. One of the clinical signs is excessive panting.
If there is a decrease in the numbers of red blood cells, it follows that your dog will suffer from labored breathing.
Hyperventilation may also happen as your dog’s body tries to supply itself with oxygen.
Panting vs Dog Hyperventilating
Right now, you may be asking if there is a difference between heavy panting and dog hyperventilating?
As mentioned earlier, panting is for cooling down. It is equated to sweating in humans.
Hyperventilation, on the other hand, is characterized by continuous heavy panting with mouth open. You can hear the dog breathing hard and may even drool as the mouth has been open for so long and the dog does not swallow at all.
If your dog is panting, it can take in oxygen.
On the other hand, if your dog is hyperventilating, it is unable to breathe normally. Because of this, it will become weak and may eventually collapse as a result of a lack of oxygen in its system.
Other Reasons for Panting and Restlessness that’s Either Normal or Abnormal Panting
1. Is Your Old Dog Panting?
Do you wonder whether excessive panting in an older dog is normal? The answer is NO.
The reason why your old dog is panting is because of an underlying health problem.
It could be that your dog has congestive heart failure, suffering from heatstroke, or panting may be due to obesity.
Then there is also the issue of laryngeal paralysis. Some old dogs develop this symptom wherein the muscles that hold the airways together begin to fail. This condition results in breathing difficulty and in some cases could ever cause hyperventilation.
The other way of explaining why your old dog is panting is because the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles which are used for breathing get weaker with age. As a result, older dogs find it easier to pant, which does not use much of the diaphragm and chest muscles because breaths from panting are shallower.
2. Why Is My Dog Panting at Night?
One reason is separation anxiety. If your dog does not sleep with you, it may pant as a result of being away from you.
Did you just adopt a pup or an adult dog? You may be wondering why is my dog panting at night? A new owner in a new environment can cause a tremendous amount of stress in your new dog. For as long as your pooch is healthy, you need not lose sleep over it. Your pet is in its adjustment phase.
Heat exhaustion is another possible reason for dog panting at night. Does your pooch take part in your nighttime exercise regimen? If yes, you may want to allow your dog to sleep in an air-conditioned room. If not possible, be sure that its sleeping area is well-ventilated. What about using an elevated pet bed for increased air circulation?
Lastly, the reason could be due to an existing health problem. Dogs cannot express what they are going through. But, if you can read your dog too well, you can notice it. One of the manifestations is your dog breathing hard than usual.
3. Is My Dog About to Give Birth?
If this is your first time helping your dog give birth, the early signs of labor apart from restlessness is your dog breathing hard. You’ll see your dog shaking, too. These are all normal behaviors and may last between 6 and 12 hours until she gives birth to her cute puppies.
To Sum Up…
If your dog pants heavily, you do not have to see the Vet right away. Remember that panting is beneficial for your pooch because it lowers body temperature and prevents heat stroke.
But, as a fur parent, what you have to watch out for are the abnormal signs of panting. As discussed above, if your dog pants excessively even while not exerting physical effort and your dog is indoors, then you have to set an appointment with the Vet right away.
For all you know, panting and restless behaviors are your dog’s way of letting you know that something isn’t right with its body.