Panting is the normal way in which dogs normalize or regulate their body temperature. The skin of dogs does not have any sweat glands, therefore the only way to dissipate the built up heat of the body is by panting. This is a normal cooling mechanism of the dog’s body. However, excessive dog panting can be a cause of concern. While it is normal to pant a little due to the heat, it is not normal to be doing it excessively. If the dog has been panting excessively, it simply means that the dog is not well.
When you see your dog panting unusually hard, observe the dog closely and see if there are any peripheral symptoms. If the dog is urinating or drinking excessively and if the dog seems to be nauseated, note down the behavioral changes. See if dog vomiting or passing loose stools. There may be several other situational symptoms such as unusual levels of activity while on a walk. These symptoms can provide vital information to your vet regarding the condition of your dog.
A dog may pant excessively because it is dehydrated. Heat exhaustion is another possible reason for the dog to be panting heavily. As soon as you observe the panting, give your dog some water to drink. This should ease the panting and cool your dog. It there are observable changes in your dog’s behaviour after consuming the cool water, your dog may not need veterinary care. However, just to make sure that your dog is now alright, you should ideally give your vet a call.
There is a slight possibility that the dog may not cool off even after drinking water. The dog may refuse water altogether. If the dog refuses water, it may not be suffering from dehydration or exhaustion. The dog may be experiencing respiratory distress. This could also be a sign of an inflammatory disorder and the dog will have to be taken to the hospital immediately. The vet will check the dog panting and observe other symptoms. If the dog is suffering respiratory distress, it will be given oxygen. Meanwhile the doctor will take some additional tests and check for infections and inflammation. If the dog is suffering from an infection, antibiotics are the natural course of treatment.
While there is not much you can do to prevent infections that cause such symptoms, to prevent your dog from getting heat exhaustion, always make sure that the dog has access to clean, cool water, especially in summers.
Always remain calm when your dog is experiencing panting. Dogs are intuitive and can sense your emotions. If you become panicked, your dog may become worried. Speak to your dog in a calming voice and offer him comfort while seeking treatment.