Dog is Panting Heavily (cont.)
When to Get the Vet
While normal panting serves a useful function, abnormally excessive panting is often a sign of serious problems. Brachycephalic breeds -- such as bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers - have particular difficulty recovering from heat-related exhaustion because of their physical structure. (These dogs are distinguished by their protruding exposed eyes, extremely short pushed-in noses, and small nostrils.) Don't ignore these dogs' panting if it lasts for more than ten minutes at rest in a cool environment. Think about it. Have you ever needed more than ten minutes to catch your breath, even after strenuous exercise?
If your dog's panting doesn't subside in a few minutes, move on to a more thorough evaluation of the dog. Start by checking her mucous membranes. If the normally pink, moist tissues of the mouth and tongue are turning bluish purple (hypoxia) or are ghostly pale (shock), get your dog to an emergency facility immediately!
Does your dog have a fever? Sometimes a body temperature of higher than 102.5°F will cause a dog to pant in an attempt to reduce its fever. See “How to Check Your Dog's Temperature” [not available online] for instructions on taking your dog's temperature. If your panting dog has such a temperature elevation and isn't simply overheated, it may be due to infection. See your veterinarian right away.
Text © 2007 by Robert D. "Jake" Tedaldi, D.V.M.