5 Reasons Dog Panting Is So Important
Pet parent or not, you have most likely seen a dog panting with their tongue hanging out of their mouth as they make that all-too-familiar breathy noise. While you may associate panting with fatigue or exercise, this isn’t always the case!
Why Do Dogs Pant?
Panting serves many functions, some of which hugely enhance your dog’s everyday life. From communicating with others to coping with stress, here are five reasons why dogs pant.
Reason #1: Eases Overxertion
Ever wonder just how your dog can play round after round of fetch or keep up with you on a long walk? Well, panting has something to do with it! After your dog exercises, panting helps their bodies return to a resting state. This includes bringing down the heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature, according to AKC Pet Insurance.
So, next time you take your furry friend on an outdoor adventure or enjoy a game of fetch, know that dog panting is totally normal and necessary!
Reason #2: Regulates Body Temperature
Sometimes dogs simply need to cool down—even when there’s no physical activity involved! Similar to how humans may sweat while inactive, dogs pant when necessary to maintain a healthy body temperature.
While it is true that dogs have sweat glands on their paw pads to help cool down, they do not have as many sweat glands as humans. Panting, on the other hand, provides an additional and more efficient process to prevent overheating. When dogs pant, they release hot air and bring cool air into their lungs. As water evaporates from the nasal passage, respiratory tract, and tongue, the incoming air contacts this moisture to help keep their body cool—a similar function of dog sweating.
Reason #3: Indicates Stress
Dogs are constantly communicating with us—even when we don’t realize it! When your dog sneezes, barks, pants, or even has a case of the zoomies, they are conveying their needs to some extent. In this case, a panting dog may signify stress if your dog feels intimidated or uncomfortable, or if they’re in an unfamiliar environment.
If your dog shows signs of intimidation—such as cowering or pointing their whiskers toward a particular dog or person—it is best to either remove or distance your furry friend from the object to avoid a potentially dangerous interaction. Otherwise, you can provide chew toys to help ease stress.
Reason #4: Expresses Excitement
A panting dog isn’t always a bad sign! It can also be a way for them to show their happiness or excitement. When your dog is about to eat food or go for a walk, they may pant in anticipation. This type of panting may be short-lived and accompanied by whining.
Reason #5: Conveys Discomfort
Excessive panting in dogs is often a way to communicate pain or illness, so it can indicate something more serious going on. If your dog hasn’t been recently active but is panting heavily for an extended period, there could be an injury, allergic reaction, or even a respiratory issue prompting the behavior. Call your veterinarian right away in any of these cases.
Other signs of discomfort may be excessive licking, restlessness, whining, and a reduced appetite.
A Breath of Fresh Air
While dog panting is often a way to cool down after an activity or when exposed to heat, it is also a helpful way to monitor your furry friend. When it comes to excessive panting in dogs, there may be something more serious going on...but panting can also simply be a way to communicate excitement! Regardless, understanding why dogs pant may help you better understand your furry friends and ultimately strengthen your bond!