How to Calm a Panting Dog: A Comprehensive Guide
by Dr Vivian Loren on Jul 02, 2023.
Panting occasionally can be a natural behaviour in dogs. It helps them cool down and express a wide range of emotions from excitement to anxiety. However, there are two types of panting: the good type and the bad type. Let's see the difference and learn how to calm a panting dog should you have to.
Normal Panting vs Excessive Panting
Normal panting occurs when dogs are hot, exercising or overly excited. Generally it's not a cause for concern.
However, if the panting is excessive or unexplained, particularly if it's accompanied by symptoms such as lethargy or loss of appetite, that can be a sign of a health problem.
Excessive panting tends to occur especially in the summer months if caused by factors such as heatstroke, lack of water or very high heat. At other times stress, anxiety or health issues, like heart problems, respiratory problems, or other types of metabolic disorders can also cause unexplained and excessive panting.
Recognizing Signs of Distress or Illness
It can be important to try and recognise when your dog has excessive panting. This proactive approach can help you recognise it early on and take the necessary actions to prevent your dogs condition from getting worse.
Take, for example, if your dog has excessive panting, accompanied by discomfort changes in behaviour, for example, if it gets more agitated or physical symptoms such as bloated abdomen, pale gums or severe lethargy, that may indicate that you need to seek medical advice on an urgent basis.
Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Panting Excessively
As I mentioned previously, excessive panting, can happen more frequently in the summer months. Dogs do have sweat glands, but they don't sweat like we do. They sweat much less. This means that panting is their primary way of cooling down. High temperatures and humidity can subsequently cause your dog to pant more.
Exercise or Excitement
I am sure that you've noticed your dog panting more after playing fetch or after going for a run with you. This is completely normal and the panting should stop once they've cooled and calm down.
In this instance, you can help them by making sure they have plenty of water available to drink.
Stress or Anxiety
Another common cause for excessive panting, which may or may not be normal, is stress or anxiety.
The causes for this can be multifactorial.
Some dogs get stressed or anxious when they see unfamiliar faces or even when they see people walking outside the window. Others tend to get anxious with loud noises, such as during a thunderstorm or fireworks.
Or even if you're playing your TV or music loud indoors. Other dogs tend to have separation anxiety so they will pant once you've left your house.
Regardless of the cause, if you feel your dog may be suffering from anxiety, I would recommend you try a dog calming supplement such as our all natural CALM. powder. All you have to do is sprinkle it onto your dog's food for breakfast or dinner.
NOTE: Did you know that our recent study has shown a wide variety in the stress levels of dogs depending on which U.S state they live in?
Illness or Health Issues
Some diseases like heart failure, Cushing's disease or respiratory problems can also cause excessive panting.
If your dog has not been diagnosed with any of these and you notice other physical problems, such as tiredness, lack of appetite or a change in gum colours, then you should contact your vet immediately.
Brachycephalic breeds such as Bulldogs and Pugs often pant more because they have short noses and flat faces and this can lead to breathing difficulties.
You may also find that these breeds of dogs will snore more as well. The panting in these breeds is normal.
However, one thing to look out for here is if you notice a change in the frequency or the pattern of panting to what is usual for them. This change in frequency, intensity or pattern may indicate that there is an underlying health issue.
How to Calm a Panting Dog
So there are a few steps you can take to calm a panting dog.
Ensuring Proper Hydration
It is extremely important that your dog has access to clean and fresh water at all times. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of panting and reason for presenting to vets. This tends to especially happen during hot weather or after exercise.
Just like in humans, maintaining adequate hydration can prevent numerous diseases or health problems.
If you are planning a walk during hot weather, my tip would be to always pack a dog water bottle. It doesn't have to be a fancy one. A simple bottle with a spout that your dog can drink from is enough.
Providing a Cool and Comfortable Environment
If you notice your dog, getting overheated either from spending too much time outside, or going for a vigorous run when they may not be used to exercising, try and cool them down.
Use fans or air-conditioning or provide a cooling mat for your dog to lie on.
It goes without saying that you should never leave a dog locked inside a car as this can lead to overheating and can be extremely dangerous.
An exception to this might be those cars that have a "dog mode". Like in the case of Tesla, this mode ensures that the cabin is kept at a comfortable temperature. Note that this should work both when it's too hot and too cold outside.
Use of Calming Techniques
Calming techniques such as petting, massage or relaxing music for dogs have gained popularity recently. These techniques are something that you can try to see how your dog responds.
Certain breeds will respond better to calming music than others for example. Try and observe your dog over a longer period of time to see what works and what doesn't work for them.
Introduction to Dog-Calming Products
Dog calming products can be a useful addition to your dogs daily food intake. You can get them in the form of food toppers, treats or even tablets. Many of these come with natural remedies, natural herbs, such as passion flower or chamomile, which can also work in adults.
Passion flower in particular works quite well for animals
When to Consult a Vet
I think it's important to consult a vet. If you can't explain your dog's panting. This is especially the case if there are other symptoms as aforementioned such as lack of appetite, discolouration of their gums or nose or if you notice weight loss.
Consulting a vet for panting can be the safest thing to do as they can thoroughly examine your dog and determine if there are any underlying health issues.
It is important to know when and how to calm a panting dog. Knowing the differences between normal and pathological causes for panting can help prevent your dogs health condition from getting worse.
Remember that as a responsible pet owner, your dog's well-being is in your hands. If you're ever uncertain about something, always contact a professional who can review your dogs signs and symptoms and diagnose them appropriately if necessary.