As our beloved canine companions age, their behavior and physiology may change. One such change that often causes concern among pet owners is excessive panting. While panting is a normal canine behavior, especially after exertion or during warmer weather, excessive panting in older dogs might indicate underlying issues that require attention. Here's what you need to know.
What Is Considered Excessive Panting?
Panting is a dog's primary method of cooling down. It can also respond to excitement, pain, or other emotions. However, it might be categorized as excessive when panting becomes heavier, more frequent, or isn't easily linked to a specific cause (like recent exercise or high temperatures).
Causes of Excessive Panting in Older Dogs:
- Heat and Humidity: Older dogs can feel the effects of high temperatures and might pant more on hot days than younger dogs.
- Pain or Discomfort: Older dogs often face arthritis, dental disease, or other age-related ailments that can cause pain and discomfort.
- Heart Disease: The heart works harder in dogs with cardiac issues, leading to increased panting as they try to maintain oxygen levels.
- Respiratory Disorders: Any issue that affects a dog's ability to breathe, like pneumonia or other lung diseases, can lead to increased panting.
- Cushing's Disease: This endocrine disorder is more common in older dogs and results in the overproduction of cortisol, leading to symptoms like excessive panting.
- Anxiety or Stress: Changes in the household, the addition of new pets, or even age-related cognitive decline can cause anxiety in older dogs.
- Medications: Some medications, especially corticosteroids, can cause excessive panting as a side effect.
- Obesity: Overweight dogs exert more effort in their daily activities, which can result in more panting.
What to Do if Your Senior Dog Is Panting Excessively:
- Consult Your Veterinarian: Any sudden or unexplained change in your dog's behavior warrants a vet visit. They can conduct tests, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend treatments.
- Keep Them Cool: Ensure your dog has a cool, shaded place to rest, especially during hotter months. Hydration is also crucial, so always provide fresh water.
- Manage Pain: Your vet can recommend treatments or solutions if your dog is in pain.
- Diet and Exercise: Ensure your older dog is on a proper diet and gets gentle exercise to prevent obesity and maintain good overall health.
- Anxiety Management: For dogs suffering from anxiety, consider comfort items, pheromone products, or even anxiety medications, as a vet recommends.
- Review Medications: If your dog recently started a new medication, talk to your vet about potential side effects and alternatives.
Also Read: How fast can heatstroke kill a dog?
In a Nutshell!
Excessive panting in older dogs can be alarming, but understanding its potential causes is the first step in ensuring your pet's comfort and well-being. With proactive care, regular vet check-ups, and a watchful eye, you can help manage or alleviate many of the conditions that lead to excessive panting and continue to provide a loving and comfortable environment for your aging canine companion.
Also Read: Excessive Panting in Puppies