Moderate to rapid open-mouthed respiration, termed puppy panting, is a normal puppy behavior that lowers body temperature and also gets oxygen into the puppy's blood stream. The panting dog breathes with his mouth open and tongue somewhat protruding.
Panting as a cooling mechanism is necessary because dogs do not have an effective system of sweat glands like people do. Instead, dogs cool their bodies using the evaporation of moisture from the mouth and tongue, and by exchanging the hot air of their lungs with cooler external air.
When the outside air temperature is the same or higher than the puppy’s normal body temperature of 102 degrees, panting won’t effectively cool off the puppy and can lead to heat stroke. Hot puppies may also resort to digging to scoop out cool places to rest.>
Panting should not be confused with labored breathing. Labored breathing is characterized by strained respiration and may be accompanied by sounds of distress like crying or whining, or whistles from the nostrils or windpipe due to blockage.
10 Common Reasons for Puppy Panting
- The weather is hot and your puppy pants to cool off.
- Excitement or stress (like a ride in the car) can increase the heart rate and respiration and prompt panting.
- A quick panting behavior during play also may be a kind of puppy laughter.
- Rapid or labored breathing can be a sign of heat stroke which needs emergency attention.
- Flat-faced dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs can have more trouble catching their breath and overheat more quickly.
- Any kind of pain or discomfort may prompt your puppy to pant.
- Being hit by a car, poisoning, or other trauma may cause shock that increases respiration and panting.
- Puppies with a high fever may pant to help lower their body temperature.
- Medications given by the veterinarian may increase respiration or prompt panting.
- A very full tummy or suffering from bloat may also cause the puppy to pant, sometimes in preparation to vomiting.