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Why is my dog panting so much? A veterinarian explains what to know and when to worry.

By Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY,

2023-03-15

Even though dog is, supposedly, man's best friend the behavior of our furry companions can often be entirely foreign to us. Without the ability to share a verbal exchange, what your dog is doing and why may remain a mystery.  Especially if that behavior is not something mimicked in human life.

Panting, for example, is unique to the canine world. So, how much panting is too much?

To find out why your dog might be panting excessively, and when you should worry, we spoke to veterinarian Dr. Camille Alander, of NYC's Bond Vet.

Why is my dog panting so much?

Alander  said for pet-owners who come into her office with this questions her initial response is: When did you see a change?

Some dogs pant more than others, some run hot, some are anxious — all of these could be reasons your dog is panting that wouldn't be a reason to worry.

"Nine times out of ten, it's probably a normal amount of panting," Alander said, and can usually be traced back to body temperature regulation or anxiety.

However, some changes in panting behavior can be traced to nausea and discomfort or other more serious illnesses like heart failure and respiratory illnesses.

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When should I worry about my dog panting?

When it is outside the norm of what is usually seen for your dog.

Different breeds of dogs will pant different amounts. There is an element of individuality in how much any one dog pants. The important thing is to get a baseline level of your dog's behavior from a young age, and then if you see a major change that can't be attributed to something like exercise or anxiety, take them into the veterinarian for a professional opinion.

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How do you calm a dog down from panting?

If your dog's panting seems connected to anxiety the most sure-fire way to create calm is to remove the offending source, Alander said.

That means if your dog gets nervous around large crowds, or fireworks, avoiding those things can help keep the panting at bay.

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Does panting mean a dog is in pain?

Not necessarily.

A dog can pant to regulate it's body temperature after exercise or to signal some anxiety about a crowd or a visit to the vet. Neither of these are cause for immediate concern.

However, if the panting persists at an abnormal level it could mean your dog has an underlying health condition or is experiencing nausea and discomfort.

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Why is my dog panting so much at night?

If this is a new development, definitely see your veterinarian about it, Alander said, as it could be an indicator of underlying illness.

However, if it's been a typical behavior for your dog from a young age then there isn't much cause for concern. Different breeds of dogs will pant more than others, sometimes dependent on the size of their noses as smaller-nosed dogs might be more dependent on breathing from their mouths (think pugs.)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why is my dog panting so much? A veterinarian explains what to know and when to worry.

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