Why Do Dogs Pant?

As summer approaches here in the mid west, you are not the only one seeking relief. Your pet may be giving you some cues that he needs to cool off as well and panting is a sure sign. But have you ever wondered how this built in cooling system works? Keep reading to find out as well as discover some tips for helping your pet cool off.

Dogs can pant when they are tired and need to catch their breath the same way humans do. They can also pant when they are hot because that is how their bodies cool off whereas humans sweat to cool off.

Have you ever wondered how it all works and why our bodies have such dramatically different ways of arriving at the same outcome?  Well, as humans, we sweat because water locks in heat to carry it away from our bodies. Since there are pores all over our bodies it is an effective means of releasing the excess heat efficiently. By comparison, dogs can seem to be at a disadvantage since their bodies are covered in fur with no pores. The only place where a dog can sweat is on the pads of his feet.

Hence the panting is a dog’s way of releasing the heat through his mouth in order to regulate his body temperature. When a dog opens his mouth and pants, he’s using moisture to release the excess heat as humans do. When he opens his mouth his tongue expands to help push out the hot, moist air.

While panting is a natural and important mechanism of your dog’s body, be aware that certain medical conditions can cause your dog to pant due to being out of breath. This includes heart failure, injuries and respiratory disorders like pneumonia. If your dog is panting more than usual and it is not due to exercise or heat then you may want to get him checked out at the vet to be sure all is well.

An overheated dog is going to pant relentlessly in an attempt to cool down.  While he is doing all he can with his seemingly limited technique, there are some ways you can help. A first step is to bring him into a cooler environment. If outside take him into the shade or indoors, preferably air conditioned. Put your dog directly in front of the air conditioner or a fan if no air conditioning is available. Another option is to give him a cool bath not cold since the dramatic shift in temperature can cause him to go in to shock. Provide cold water for your dog and even some ice cubes which he will enjoy licking and chomping. If you suspect overheating or heatstroke, take him to a vet as soon as possible.

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