Unfortunately, dogs cannot simply tell us that they are in pain, so it is important to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms if you suspect they may be in pain. If you think they may be hurting, schedule a time to see your vet as soon as possible.
Besides pain, heavy panting that seems out of place may be a sign of another serious condition like heat stroke or a toxicity poisoning. Other important conditions that can result in abnormal panting include Cushing’s disease (which means their body is producing too much cortisol) and heart or lung disorders, like heart disease or pneumonia.
A dog experiencing heatstroke is overheating for a prolonged period of time. Some important signs of heatstroke are excessive drooling, rapid heart rate, high body temperature, heavy panting, red gums, and muscle tremors.
What Can You Do to Help Abnormal Panting?
The steps you can take to help address abnormal panting in your dog depend first on identifying the cause. Once you think you have an idea of what might be causing the abnormal panting, you can then act to hopefully lessen the condition.
If you believe there is a good chance your dog is panting because they are in pain, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to confirm this possibility, determine the root cause of the pain (for example, perhaps there is an underlying medical condition or injury), and then design a treatment plan on that basis. There are many treatments they may suggest, such as CBD oil for dogs in pain. Learn more about pain treatments for dogs.
In some cases, like heatstroke, it will be important for you to act immediately to prevent the condition from worsening. In severe cases, heatstroke can be fatal. If you suspect heatstroke, move your dog to a cool, shaded area, give them cool water to drink, and immerse them in cool water (or alternatively, wrap them in cool, wet towels). If possible, take their temperature with a rectal thermometer, and take care to stop helping them cool off once their temperature has come back down to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you’ve begun helping to cool them off, take them into the vet as soon as possible.
As you can see, dog panting is usually nothing to worry about. However, if you think that your dog’s heavy panting is not a result of exercise or a surrounding hot environment, know that it can be a symptom of a health problem and that your pet may be in pain. Be sure to consult a vet for the appropriate diagnosis and explanation of abnormal panting in your dog.