Why do old dogs gasp

Dog panting

If dogs pant excessively and frequently, there may be a serious medical condition behind it.

Dog panting: this is normal

Panting in dogs is basically normal behavior. The dog sticks out its tongue, inhales through its nose and exhales through its mouth. The inhaled air hardly reaches the lungs, the dog breathes very shallowly. (Panting is not the same as hyperventilating, in which there is an increased gas exchange in the lungs.)

The airflow caused by panting increases the amount of moisture evaporating on the mucous membranes, which leads to a drop in body temperature. Dogs can barely sweat and need to pant to avoid overheating. After exertion or in extreme heat, strong panting is also important in the dog. If the dog panted during or after emotional excitement, this is also to be classified as normal behavior.

Important: Panting evaporates a lot of liquid in a very short time. The dog must therefore be regularly offered sufficient water when it is very hot or strenuous. Otherwise there is a risk of circulatory collapse due to lack of fluids.

Dog panting: That should make you aware

Does your dog pant all the time for no apparent reason, e.g. even in relaxed situations without understandable effort? Is your dog panting and restless? If you are concerned about this, please see the vet. It could be due to an illness that cannot be seen at first glance, e.g. a heart problem. If symptoms occur in addition to panting, such as cough, fever, vomiting or lameness, this should also be checked in any case. So you should z. For example, go to a vet if you notice that my dog ​​drinks a lot and panting.

Dog panting heavily: causes

The vet searches for possible further symptoms of the disease and the cause of excessive panting in a general and then a further special examination.

  • One possible reason could be a heart problem: Various heart diseases (e.g. mitral valve endocardiosis, dilated caridomyopathy (DCM), pericardial effusion, etc.) result in the heart having a lower pumping capacity. As a result, the body's cells are poorly supplied with fresh blood and thus with oxygen. The resilience of the dog decreases more and more and he panted more and more. A backlog of blood in the lungs can lead to panting and a general lack of fitness as well as coughing ("heart cough"). In order to recognize heart problems, an X-ray of the chest or an EKG (echocardiogram) may be necessary in addition to listening with the stethoscope. The latter is especially true for
    • Dogs that suffer from heart problems more often due to their breed (mitral valve endocardiosis in e.g. dachshunds, chihuahuas and poodles, DCM in e.g. boxers, mastiffs, dobermans). Heart ultrasound and blood tests are also helpful in diagnosing heart disease. For more information on this topic, see the dog cardiology article.
    • If the dog panting very often, this can be an indication of pain: parallel lameness or vomiting (in the case of abdominal pain) are then the indications of the problem.
    • If the dog "snores" while breathing, this is an indication of a narrowing of the upper airways, e.g. in the area of ​​the larynx. Often in short-headed dogs such as bulldogs, pugs
    • Panting and pale mucous membranes can indicate not only circulatory weakness but also anemia, i.e. anemia. The dog then has too few red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. Accordingly, his resilience drops because his blood does not supply enough oxygen to the cells.
    • Internal illnesses such as diabetes or Cushing's syndrome can also cause increased panting. In addition, there are usually other symptoms such as excessive drinking and increased urination.
    • An infection should be considered when combining a fever and panting. Fever can become life-threatening if it occurs over a long period of time and / or if very high temperatures are reached for a short period of time. Let your vet demonstrate to you on a healthy dog ​​how you can measure the temperature yourself. Smaller dogs and puppies usually have a higher body temperature than large dogs, but above 39 ° C in a relaxed dog one generally speaks of a fever. It becomes threatening from 41 ° C, acutely life-threatening at 42.5-43 ° C.
    • Is your bitch very pregnant? The panting could indicate that labor is about to begin. Usually she is restless and builds nests.
    • Acute panting can also occur in the course of poisoning, e.g. in the case of chocolate poisoning.

Panting on its own is a very unspecific symptom, that is, it does not indicate a very specific problem, but the triggers can be many. This list therefore does not claim to be complete! Does your old dog pant a lot? In any case, take this seriously and please do not regard it as a harmless "phenomenon of old age".

Dog panting heavily: treatment

Since panting is just a symptom, which can have many reasons, the therapies are correspondingly diverse. In addition to acute emergency situations (high fever, poisoning, etc.), chronic diseases can also be the trigger. The latter must be treated for life, while an acute pain condition can be resolved more quickly - depending on what caused it.

Dog panting: conclusion

Does your dog pant all the time, strongly and / or without a recognizable trigger? Make sure to show it to your vet to rule out a pathological cause.

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