Why Do Dogs Pant?

Disclosure: Your support helps Pawster continue to operate! Some products we recommend earn a referral fee at no cost to you.

Pant. Pant. Pant. Have you seen your dog panting on a hot summer day? Or after he’s been running? Why the heck does he do do that?

Chewy Online Dog Supplies

30% Off at Chewy.com

+ Free Shipping

Save Now

Dogs pant to cool themselves.

When dogs get hot and their body temperature rises, they can’t sweat through the pores in their skin like people do, or like some other animals (horses, for example). Instead, they have to rely on taking in cooler air through their mouths and letting it circulate through their lungs and body to cool themselves down.

Dogs do sweat through the pads on their paws but this is a very small surface area. It won’t cool your dog down very much when he’s hot.

If your dog is hot he may also try to cool himself down by walking or standing in some water. If you have a pool, a kiddie pool, or sprinklers, you may find your dog cooling himself in the water. Or, if you live near a stream, lake, or beach, your dog may wade in. This is perfectly normal and it won’t hurt your dog. Just make sure your dog knows how to swim if you have a pool or you live near a body of water so your dog will be safe if he decides to cool himself this way. Contrary to what many people think, dogs are not necessarily born knowing how to swim. They often need to be taught. If you have a pool, make sure you teach your dog how to get out of the pool on his own.

Many dogs will also look for something cool to drink when they are hot. This is fine as long as your dog doesn’t drink something that is ice cold. If your dog is very hot or if he’s been exercising a lot, you should avoid letting him drink icy water. The shock of the icy water can make him sick. Instead, let him drink cool water, minus the ice.

Some dogs will also pant when they are feeling sick or unwell. If your dog is panting and the weather is not hot, and he hasn’t been exerting himself, you should check his heart rate. If his heart is beating fast, he could have a heart problem. Respiratory problems and Cushing’s disease can also cause dogs to pant. If your dog has these symptoms you should see your vet. Dogs can also pant if they are injured or in pain. Your dog might have hurt himself while playing, for example, and didn’t show any sign of it, but he is in enough pain that it is causing him to pant.

Dogs can also pant when they are feeling stressed or fearful. For example, many dogs are scared of fireworks or thunderstorms. This can cause them to feel anxious and pant. You can work on ways to reduce your dog’s anxiety in these situations. Talk to your veterinarian or a canine behaviorist if necessary.

There is usually a specific reason for a dog to pant, whether it’s from heat or exertion, or because your dog is sick or in pain, or because he is feeling anxious. When you see your dog panting you should determine why he’s doing it. It’s usually nothing to worry about but it’s a good idea to make sure there is nothing wrong.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News. She's also the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Adoptashelter.com Award winner for 2013. In addition, she's written Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

View all posts

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Why Trust Us?

Pawster Trust Shield

Readers like you put their trust in Pawster every day, here’s why:

  1. Expertise: Our authors know pets. The AKC, Huffington Post, and BusinessInsider.com have trusted our authors to provide pet tips, tricks and advice to their readers.
  2. Experience: Our writers have over 20+ years of experience writing about (and owning) pets.
  3. Transparency: Pawster.com is a reader-supported site. Connecting our visitors with the best products and a positive buying experience is our passion.
  4. Collaboration: We hate inaccurate and questionable information as much as you! We research HARD and consult industry experts. We also love comments from our visitors and regularly update articles when valid feedback is provided.

Thanks for stopping by!

Proudly Partnered with Chewy.com