Why Do Dogs Pant?

We are so used to seeing our canine friends panting away. Here’s a few of the more common reasons our pooches pant so often…

Dogs Are Not Like Us

Our canine pals have vastly different physiology than people. For one, dogs have fur. Imagine running around in the hot sun, with a coat on that you can’t take off!

When their body temperature rises, dogs can’t sweat through their skin like we do. They can sweat through their paw pads, but it’s by panting that dogs circulate the necessary air through their bodies to cool down. If you’re near a body of water your dog can also cool off by jumping in.

Danger - Heatstroke

Panting is a sign that your dog is excited, hot or both. However, panting can also be a warning sign. If your dog is taking a break from exercise and continues to pant heavily, this could be a sign of heatstroke – a medical emergency. Move your dog to a cool spot immediately and if severe, consult a veterinarian as it can be fatal. When playing with your dog outside in hot weather, it’s important to bring along water for them to drink.

Danger – Poisoning or Allergic Reaction

Panting can be a sign that something is wrong with your dog, especially if there is no obvious reason as to why they are panting. When accompanied by other signs like lethargy or vomiting, panting can be an indicator that your dog has swallowed poison or is having an allergic reaction that is affecting their ability to breathe.

Danger - Illness

Illness could be another possible reason your dog suddenly starts to pant. A sudden increase in heart rate and panting can be a warning that your dog has a heart problem. Some other illnesses that can cause your dog to suddenly start panting include respiratory problems like pneumonia or Cushing’s syndrome.


A dog may suddenly start panting if, for example, a thunder storm passes by. This is a normal fear response as dogs are easily startled by loud noises and bright flashes of light (such as thunder and lightning, or fireworks). Dogs also look to people to know how to act, so if you act completely normal during a storm or fireworks they’ll be less prone to panic. However, if your dog feels the need to hide under the bed or your legs, allow them to do so until the worst is over.

Warm weather, scary sights and sounds, not feeling well, in pain or injured -- dogs pant for all these reasons and more. Learning your dog’s behaviour and general heath so you can spot changes, you’ll be able to tell the difference between "a breather" and something more serious.