Causes of a Panting Puppy

" A panting puppy for reasons such as hot weather, exercise or other known cause, is in often mistaken for a problem, when in fact, in most cases it is normal. Dogs are considered much better at conserving heat than at cooling themselves. Dogs not only conserve heat, but also cannot sweat, which is an effective form of evaporative cooling. Dog Panting is the only way to reduce body temperature and to keep the body cool in hot and humid weather. Puppies may pant faster than adult dogs, and in many cases, even normal panting can be misunderstood as a disease or illness. Panting in puppies is normally noticed in hot and humid weather, after excessive exercise and in some breeds that have a flat nose and narrow respiratory passages. A continuously panting puppy may represent that there is some type of underlying cause that needs to be addressed, which may or may not be accompanied by clinical signs. Injuries, heat strokes, fever, respiratory/cardiac congestion, anemia, obesity, heartworm infection etc are some common reasons for panting puppy. Puppies fed a balanced diet and fresh clean drinking water along with the administration of natural remedies and supportive supplements can be protected from the aforementioned reasons for abnormal panting. "


Panting in Puppies Overview:

Dogs do not have capacity to sweat, since they lack sweat glands on their skin. Anatomically and physiologically, dogs are much better at conserving heat and thus can survive in harsh and cold weather, but they may face difficulty in hot and humid weather.

A dog, therefore keeps its body cool through panting. The normal respiratory rate of a healthy dog ranges from 18 – 34 breaths per minute. This breathing rate is much higher in puppies as compared to adult dogs. A puppy can be technically declared panting, if it is breathing 10 times more than the normal breathing rate. In hot and humid weather and from stress due to exercise, a puppy may pant rapidly to not only fulfill the oxygen needs of the body, but also to inhale fresh and cool air into the body for thermoregulation (regulation of body temperature).

Puppy Panting When Sleeping:

It is generally normal for puppies to pant or breathe rapidly when sleeping. There is cause for concern if the panting is accompanied by other symptoms such as frequent coughing, tiredness or lethargy when awake, a reduced appetite of there is also considerable panting when the puppy is awake.

If you see these additional sypmtoms, then heavy panting could indicate some underlying disease that needs to be addressed.

If you notice any changes in your pups normal breathing it is best to consult a veterinarian.

Normal Panting in Puppies:

A puppy panting due to hot weather, anxiety, stress, running, exercise, excitement, fear and other similar environmental and behavioral reasons should be considered as normal. It should also be remembered that puppies breathe faster than adult dogs, and in many puppies, breathing normally can be misunderstood as panting. A puppy breathing 10 times more than a normal respiratory rate should be the only case where the puppy can be considered to be panting.

panting puppy
A Panting Puppy  will Breath Faster Than an Adult Panting Dog

Panting in puppies due to environmental and for behavioral reasons is usually temporary. Once the temperature and respiration attains normal levels, panting may no longer be noticed. On the other hand, a panting puppy that lasts for long durations, for specific period of time or with accompanying clinical signs should be attended to immediately by a veterinarian for detailed diagnosis and treatment.

Health Problems related with panting Puppy:

Respiratory Problems: Puppies with narrow respiratory passages and/or a flat nose my pant continuously to fulfill oxygen needs. These types of dogs/puppies are termed as Brachyocephallic dogs. Excessive and continuous panting in these breeds and other dogs should be considered abnormal. Symptoms of cough, nasal congestion, nasal secretions, fever, enlarged lymph nodes and difficulty breathing represents underlying respiratory problems.

These respiratory problems range from upper and/or lower respiratory tract infections, nasal congestion, tracheal collapse and inadequate gaseous exchange in the lungs due to any reason such as pneumonia, edema (accumulation of fluids in lungs) etc.

Heart Problems: The cardiovascular and respiratory system of the body works together to fulfill the needs of the body. This includes oxygen, and the excretion of carbon dioxide and nutrients through the pulmonary mechanism. The heart is directly connected with the lungs through pulmonary veins and arteries, which works in terms of gaseous exchange in the blood.

Dog heart problems such as canine heart congestion, failure, heartworm infection, abnormal pulmonary mechanism and blood related diseases can cause an abnormality in normal cardiovascular/respiratory physiology. A puppy showing signs of lethargy, intolerance, loss of appetite, degrading conditions along with rapid shallow breathing should be considered for possible canine cardiovascular disorders.

Neurological Problems: Respiration in dogs/puppies is controlled with the help of a “Respiratory Center” in the hind brain. If this center is damaged or destroyed for any reason, like trauma, infection etc causes in coordinated respiratory output. A puppy with such problem may either breathe too fast or too slowly, but in either case it will cause an immediate medical emergency. In most cases, it is noted that puppies with neurological disorders related to the respiratory center, show signs of panting, which do not respond to normal home care and informal veterinary care.

Mechanical Problems: Mechanical pressure on the chest, diaphragm or upper respiratory tract will leave a puppy excessively panting and showing signs of discomfort. This pressure can be either external or internal, such as external strangulation over the neck, weight on the chest, internal edema (abnormal accumulation of fluid), and pressure on the diaphragm or protruded abdomen.

Clinical Symptoms:

A dog owner may find that an excessively panting puppy is the initial sign of a health problem.  This symptom can be accompanied by other specific clinical symptoms caused by the same underlying condition that is resulting in the abnormal panting puppy.   A puppy with signs of nonstop panting should be referred to a veterinarian, since most of the underlying reasons are life threatening and require immediate care.

Symptoms of panting, heavy and difficult breathing, lethargy, intolerance, fever, loss of appetite, and progressive loss of condition represents different underlying conditions which should be diagnosed properly before initiating specific treatment.

Diagnosis:

After an initial clinical examination, a panting puppy is always recommended for basic hematological (blood) and radiological tests. Chest X-Rays, urinalysis and biochemical profiling are initial approaches towards reaching a specific diagnosis. Specific tests such as advanced hematology, endocrine examination (hormone levels), heartworm tests, and Thoracentesis ( fluid analysis that removes fluid or air from the chest through a needle or tube) are conducted for confirming a diagnosis.

Treatment of Abnormal Panting in Puppies:

The initial symptomatic treatment is started without waiting for confirmation of any underlying disease; this is done through supportive supplements, symptomatic therapeutics or common management tools. Keeping the body cool through air conditioning, shade, spray misters or gentle spraying with a garden hose can help in reducing stress and hot weather effects.

Administration of bronchodilators, energy supplements and controlling dehydration and anemia can help in reducing symptoms of panting and accompanied clinical disorders.

Specifically, any underlying cause of puppy panting should be treated after confirmation and over the due course of time, until a complete recovery is achieved. A veterinarian usually prescribes specific drugs such as antibiotics, anti-parasitic drugs, heart tonics and other specific drugs for treatment. In some cases, such as puppy heart problems, heartworm disease and neurological traumas, and congested respiratory tracts, surgical treatment may be required to achieve a complete recovery.

Natural remedies, extracted from herbs can be supportive in controlling minor reasons that cause panting in puppies. This includes products such as an Energy Tonic to help support blood circulation and oxygen flow throughout the body and a product such as Performance Plus which can help the body deal with stress. These remedies should not only be administered in normal puppies, but are also recommended along with specific and symptomatic treatment prescribed by a veterinarian (check with your Vet).

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References:

Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co) 

Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine






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