Why is my overweight dog panting so much?

why is my overweight dog panting so much
why is my overweight dog panting so much

An overweight dog is uncomfortable and may even struggle with pain. Since our dogs can’t voice their discomfort, a critical job for dog parents is observation. One key warning sign in dogs is panting.

Why is your overweight dog panting so much? Panting cools dogs by drawing in oxygen humidified by water droplets from the tongue. Overweight dogs develop breathing difficulties due to excess fat growing around the chest. With a decreased lung capacity, a dog can’t draw in enough cooled air to reduce the body’s temperature.

But, excessive panting may be a warning sign for more than weight gain. Causes of panting in dogs include:

  • Overheating
  • Stress
  • Pain
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Heart failure 
  • Medication
  • Eclampsia (Milk fever in nursing moms)

The health risks of obesity in dogs are severe. To prevent discomfort, poor health, and a shorter lifespan, it’s essential to maintain a healthy weight in dogs.

How can I tell if my overweight dog panting is excessive or normal?

Panting is a normal, healthy function in dogs. Increased panting can be natural, like a winter coat not shedding before high heat or new stresses in their environment. Observing your dog’s panting behavior will help to determine the cause.

Ask the following questions when you see your overweight dog panting.

Why is my overweight dog panting so much?

In an ordinary course of a day, when is your overweight dog panting? 

My 7-year-old Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen is prone to ear infections. We maintain regular cleanings while checking daily for a smell or discharge. Often, the first sign of another ear infection — before noticeable symptoms — is panting at night.

You can better identify why your dog is panting by discovering a pattern to the panting. Several factors to consider are:

  • The temperature
  • Time of day
  • Activity

What are you doing when your dog starts panting? Dogs pant out of excitement and stress. Your dog may be happy about the attention you’re providing or worried because you’re leaving the house.

Fireworks, loud noises, an angry phone call, or yelling at the kids can cause enough stress for your dog to pant.

When it appears no outside influence is causing a dog’s panting, it’s time to consult a veterinarian.

Is your dog showing more symptoms?

Medical conditions like Cushing’s disease and heart failure can cause excessive panting. But, it should not be the only symptom. If your dog shows any of the following signs, seek a professional opinion immediately.

  • Hair loss
  • Excessive water consumption and urination
  • Increase in appetite
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Fatigue
  • Difficult breathing
  • Coughing
  • Pacing or difficulty relaxing

Does your dog’s panting sound different?

Listening allows you to identify signs of breathing difficulties, including heart failure.

Labored breathing, dyspnea, is when a dog has difficulty catching its breath. Symptoms of dyspnea include coughing, flaring nostrils, and mouth breathing, often confused for panting. When mouth breathing, a dog’s tongue will typically remain in its mouth. 

Mouth breathing and excessive panting are also symptoms of pulmonary edema — fluid of the lungs. More signs of this heart disease are:

  • Dry cough
  • Dyspnea
  • Fast breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Crackling breathing

A physical condition may be affecting your dog’s throat. More common in older and obese dogs, tracheal collapse and laryngeal paralysis are complications to the trachea, better known as the windpipe. 

tracheal collapse is when the rings of cartilage in the trachea lose strength and flatten, making it difficult to breathe.

When eating and drinking, the larynx — voice box — will close off the trachea, then open wider for deep breaths. Laryngeal paralysis is when the larynx collapses inwards and cannot close off the trachea properly. 

Listening for signs of abnormal breathing may identify the cause of a dog’s panting. 

If your dog is showing any of the symptoms discussed, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.

Final Thoughts

If the cause of your overweight dog panting doesn’t include more symptoms — and your veterinarian confirmed — it’s time to focus on your dog’s weight loss.

Panting is a mild symptom of obesity in dogs and can be the start of more severe issues. Health risks from obesity include:

Obesity affects a dog’s body too. Joint stress from stairs, jumping on the sofa, or simply getting up and down all day can lead to osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. 

Consider starting a weight loss diet and an exercise program immediately. With a small amount of dedication, your dog should lose a safe 1% to 1.5% body fat weekly.

Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to promote their long-term health, wellbeing, and happiness.

And get them to stop panting.

Did you determine the cause of your overweight dog panting? Share this article so others can learn too.

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