Should you worry if your dog is panting? - Dr. Marty Becker

Should you worry if your dog is panting?

Wednesday, Dec 2nd, 2015 | By Dr. Marty Becker

a senior dog laying in the grass in a backyard smiling at the camera

We want dogs to get panting tired at least once every day. And dogs are designed to pant to cool off when they’re starting to get overheated. But is your dog’s panting really an early sign that something’s wrong?

Open-mouthed, quick little breaths are a sign that your pet is warm. Dogs have some sweat glands in their paw pads, but panting allows our furry friends a much more efficient way to cool down. Panting evaporates water from the mouth, tongue, and upper respiratory tract. This evaporation is a natural cooling process, and works the same way sweating does for humans.

To us, panting can sometimes look like a lot of work – that’s because a panting dog can take 300 to 400 breaths per minute, ten times your pet’s normal breathing rate. Because a dog’s lungs and airways are elastic, these extra breaths don’t take up too much energy.

Panting is perfectly normal if the dog is exercising or it’s a hot day, but if panting starts suddenly, for no reason, or if the panting is constant, take your dog to the vet. It could be the first sign of illness.