Is increased panting cause for alarm?

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My 10-year-old Lab has recently started to pant a lot on and off during the nights. He never seemed to do that previously. It does not seem to happen much during the day, but the night panting keeps me awake and gets me worried. What might be the causes for him doing this? Is this something that I need to be concerned with and have him physically seen soon? He is otherwise in very good shape, eats and drinks normally, gets regular walks, and has had no problems with going to the bathroom. He is up-to-date with shots and is due for an annual checkup this summer.

Dogs can pant for a lot of reasons and there may be nothing going on or a reason for concern. My own Lab used to pant or breathe more rapidly at night when he was older and there was nothing wrong with him.

The primary reason why dogs pant is for thermoregulation. They pant to keep cool since they do not have sweat glands and the panting allows for air transference which, in turn, cools down the airways and thereby the entire body. Dogs pant more when they exercise and need to cool down and short-faced dogs pant more due to respiratory capability being somewhat compromised based on their facial structure. Exercise leads to panting and overexertion or heatstroke will cause heavier and longer-lasting panting as well as other signs.

Is it possible that your dog is getting warm at night from household heating? Remember that panting is normal for dogs to do. If there is a change in pattern like you have noticed, there are other possible causes that can cause a dog to pant more often or more heavily and I will list some of them here.

Dogs in pain or discomfort pant more frequently. Stress and anxiety also can cause a dog to pant more, as can excitement. Dogs that have a fever pant to try and cool down and certain medications can also cause them to pant, as can an allergic reaction. There are certain health conditions that can also cause more panting such as Cushing’s, laryngeal paralysis, obstructive respiratory conditions, anemia and heart or cardiovascular disease.

From what you describe, I think you can safely wait until your dog’s annual visit for a thorough examination but do not hesitate to have the dog seen if the panting increases more or you have any concerns. You can always try and video the panting and send your veterinarian a visual on which they can offer an opinion. Good luck with everything.


Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.

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My 10-year-old Lab has recently started to pant a lot on and off during the nights. He never seemed to do that previously. It does not seem to happen much during the day, but the night panting keeps me awake and gets me worried. What might be the causes for him doing this? Is this something that I need to be concerned with and have him physically seen soon? He is otherwise in very good shape, eats and drinks normally, gets regular walks, and has had no problems with going to the bathroom. He is up-to-date with shots and is due for an annual checkup this summer.

Dogs can pant for a lot of reasons and there may be nothing going on or a reason for concern. My own Lab used to pant or breathe more rapidly at night when he was older and there was nothing wrong with him.

The primary reason why dogs pant is for thermoregulation. They pant to keep cool since they do not have sweat glands and the panting allows for air transference which, in turn, cools down the airways and thereby the entire body. Dogs pant more when they exercise and need to cool down and short-faced dogs pant more due to respiratory capability being somewhat compromised based on their facial structure. Exercise leads to panting and overexertion or heatstroke will cause heavier and longer-lasting panting as well as other signs.

Is it possible that your dog is getting warm at night from household heating? Remember that panting is normal for dogs to do. If there is a change in pattern like you have noticed, there are other possible causes that can cause a dog to pant more often or more heavily and I will list some of them here.

Dogs in pain or discomfort pant more frequently. Stress and anxiety also can cause a dog to pant more, as can excitement. Dogs that have a fever pant to try and cool down and certain medications can also cause them to pant, as can an allergic reaction. There are certain health conditions that can also cause more panting such as Cushing’s, laryngeal paralysis, obstructive respiratory conditions, anemia and heart or cardiovascular disease.

From what you describe, I think you can safely wait until your dog’s annual visit for a thorough examination but do not hesitate to have the dog seen if the panting increases more or you have any concerns. You can always try and video the panting and send your veterinarian a visual on which they can offer an opinion. Good luck with everything.


Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.

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