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Almost all dog lovers know why their canine friends pant after taking a stroll in the stifling Abuja dry seasonal heat. Dogs pant to regulate their temperature. Unlike humans, dogs aren’t able to regulate their temperature using sweat so instead, they pant to circulate cool air through their bodies and to evaporate water from the mouth and upper respiratory tract.

Panting allows a dog to rapidly inhale, humidify, then exhale the air, which increases the evaporation of water from your dog’s nose and lungs. The evaporation of water cools the body from the inside out.

A large amount of water can be evaporated in a short amount of time when a dog’s panting, so always make sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh water on hot days.

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.

Excessive panting in dogs can be caused by a number of different factors. It might be due to heat exhaustion, heatstroke or due to the symptoms of an underlying illness, disease or undiagnosed health problem

Different breeds of dogs and individuals within breeds may pant more or less often than others. It’s important for you to be aware of your dog’s ‘normal’ so you pick up subtle changes. Elderly and obese animals are more likely to pant due to heat, exercise, fear and excitement.

As dog owners, it’s important to learn how to recognize signs of troublesome panting so that the underlying cause can be tackled quickly by a veterinarian.

Reasons for Abnormal Panting in Dogs


Overheating, or heatstroke, will cause heavy panting in dogs, which can quickly lead to dehydration and death if untreated. Treating heatstroke requires emergency veterinary care.

Dogs that are overheated pant very heavily and will likely appear uncomfortable in some way. They could be restless, laid out flat, and/or not responding to you because they are so focused on cooling themselves.

Pain or Discomfort

Dogs are pretty good at hiding pain and illness from humans. Some dogs try harder than others to hide their discomfort. However, once they reach a certain level of discomfort, they often cannot help but show signs, such as panting. Look for other signs of illness or pain, such as vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, limping, pacing, and behavior changes. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog is sick or injured.

Fear, Anxiety, or Stress

Your dog may be more sensitive to external stimuli than you realize. Loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms are common causes of fear, anxiety, and stress in a dog. Your dog’s excessive panting due to anxiety may be accompanied by other symptoms such as trembling, whining, yawning, drooling, hiding or refusing food.


Certain medicines can cause excessive panting. Prednisolone, and other corticosteroids are commonly used and can cause side effects, including panting. Overdose of medications to treat thyroid disease (hypothyroidism) can cause increased panting, as can certain painkillers and sedative drugs such as diazepam and opioids.

Your Dog May be Unwell

Excessive panting may also be a sign of sickness, so if there are no other obvious causes of the panting, or you notice a lot of slobbering, whimpering, vomiting, changes in appetite or disinterest in exercising, there’s a possibility it’s a sign of illness.

This one will require a vet’s attention, as the cause can be anything from ingesting something that doesn’t agree with. Your vet will examine your dog, ask questions about their recent activities and may recommend blood or other diagnostic tests.


If your dog is overweight, they may pant as they struggle to get fresh, oxygenated blood into their systems. If you suspect that your dog’s overweight, you should speak to your vet immediately. Obesity can lead to more serious issues such as arthritis, heart failure and can also reduce their lifespan.

Treatment of Excessive Panting in Dogs

The most vital thing to do if you notice your dog panting excessively is to take him to the vet as soon as possible. A delayed trip to the vet may cause symptoms to worsen and harder to treat.

Preventing Excessive Panting in Dogs

Many common dog illnesses can be avoided by practicing responsible dog ownership. Keep your dog vaccinated against the common dog illnesses. Make sure that a fecal examination is done at least once a year to look for intestinal worms. Carryout a heartworm test once a year, and utilize heartworm preventatives.

You can avoid heatstroke in your dog by ensuring that they have plenty of fresh, cold water and shade. Allow your dog to be indoors in air conditioning or with a fan when outside temperatures rise.


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