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Dogs are known for their tongues hanging out of their mouth. Dogs pant. Many of us may think that it is normal for dogs to pant. However, there could very well be a serious reason that your dog is panting especially if your dog is panting heavily. Here are three main reasons why dogs pant.

Dogs pant to cool down

Dogs pant when they are overheated. They may have overexerted themselves from playing. They may have been hiking or even walking in the hot sun. They may be leashed to a bike and forced to run along side a pedaling person. Dogs attempt to circulate air and cool themselves down by hanging out their tongue and panting. It is important for us taking our dogs out on a long walk, hike, bike ride, or even just out on a hot day to always have water not just for ourselves but also for our dogs.

I take my dog on long walks and hikes. As soon as I notice my dog slowing down and her tongue hanging out, I stop and offer her water. That usually does the trick, and after lapping up some water she perks up and starts moving at a normal pace again. If she continues to pant even after drinking water, I find shade and allow her to rest and cool down. She will even pull me to a shady area to let me know she needs to rest. It is important to pay attention to these signs or else a dog is at risk of experiencing a heatstroke and then in need of veterinary attention.

Dogs pant when feeling stressed

Dogs may pant when they are fearful of something or highly stressed. If your dog is trembling as well as panting, your dog is very likely frightened about something. It could be the loud fireworks booming or thunder clapping in the sky is scaring your dog. It could be that a new and unfamiliar setting or situation is alarming your dog. It could be that something is bothering your dog.

My dog became highly agitated when there was something stuck between her toes. She would not sit still and kept kicking her foot out. When I could not find the source of her anxiety, she began to pant with her tongue hanging as far out as possible. Only when the source of her distress was removed, did she calm down and her tongue recede back into her mouth.

Dogs pant when sick or in pain

Dogs that have eaten something poisonous could begin to pant. Other symptoms of a dog that is poisoned are vomiting and lethargy. Heavy panting is also a sign of Cushing’s disease. Other symptoms of Cushing’s may include lack of energy, obesity as well as increased thirst and urination. A dog showing these signs needs immediate medical attention.

Dogs cannot explain what they are feeling to us. However, panting is a way of communicating to us humans that something is bothering them. It could be the need for some shade and water to cool down. It could be anxiety over a stressful situation. It could also be something as serious as heatstroke or Cushing’s disease. A panting dog is a dog in need.