Labored breathing in dogs may be due to various causes, most of which, unfortunately, indicate the presence of a serious disease. Possible origins of such a condition may include pathologies of various organs and body systems, as well as exposure to severe stresses or acute physical activity. It may also be in some cases nothing but a salient feature of the breed.
When the dog feels itself endangered or afraid, a large amount of hormones get released in its bloodstream. The process stimulates the animal to fight or flight. Panting is physically conditioned in this situation – the heart begins to beat faster, the pressure rises and, accordingly, the vigor of the animal increases. Calming it down at this juncture is by no means an easy task. A domestic animal turns into a wild one and obviously it cannot control its feelings and emotions as well as we humans do.
This e the case, the dog is panting a lot with its mouth open, it cannot be forcibly laid down or seated. Its muscles are extremely tense, and lungs are dilated to a point when a forced change of position can bring pain or even cause a rupture of a lung. All you can do is to stroke soothingly the dog’s chest and back, speak to her in a calm assuasive voice using familiar words (gentle nicknames, promises of games and delicacies). If possible, you should take your pet to a quiet spot with cool air and comfortable conditions.
When a dog is panting a lot with a wheezing sound and an open mouth, and the condition does not stop on its own or comes back in incursions without a visible reason, it should be considered as a direct indication of an inevitable visit to the vet. This is of prime importance if an old dog is panting a lot. When healthy, senior animals should not normally behave at all. If the pet is that weak, it means that some systems in its body have failed. Dyspnea is a persistent symptom of the following diseases:
- heart failure and other cardiac diseases;
- pneumonia and other respiratory infections;
- pulmonic fluid accumulation;
- pulmonary cancer;
- hematocelia in the chest;
- injuries of the chest and respiratory tract;
- renal failure;
- liver disease (albuminoid vomit);
- central nervous system afflictions;
- tracheal foreign body.
In all these cases, labored breathing is either observed constantly, or comes back at regular periods of time (for example, after eating or walking). It is may also be frequent and spontaneous. The latter is especially important to keep an eye for, since those can be fatal, having an asthmatic origin. Guardians of animals that have been diagnosed with such a condition will have to keep an “emergency” syringe with a fast-acting antihistamine at home. In other cases, hormone injections may even be deemed necessary.
Excessive Physical Activity
Normally, a dog after a long game or difficult training should be tired and hungry, but not exhausted and gasping for breath. When the dog is panting after a walk, it is necessary to reconsider the proposed activity and check with the veterinarian if everything is in order with its respiratory and cardiovascular systems. So, heart diseases often manifest themselves after physical exertion. It is definitely not normal when a large and cheerful animal cannot run or play, as it gets tired in a couple of minutes.
Objectively speaking, the purpose of walking a dog is to get it out so that it can relieve itself and communicate with the outside world. If the animal is already tired from the repeated ‘aport’ training, then it should not be forced to do it yet again or to run a couple more circles in the training area. It is totally unnecessary for domestic dogs that do not need to be specially trained. Be very careful when taking an obese dog for some extra training. It can breathe heavily because of its excess weight and thus you need to be very careful – pet’s heart is weakened and it needs gentler exercitation.
Dog breeds that have birth defects in the very structure of their nasopharynx are called brachycephalic. These include:
- Lhasa apso
- Boston terrier
- Shar Pei
- Shih Tzu
- Dogo Bordeaux
The fact that these dogs possess such a feature does not mean that dyspnea after the slightest activity should not worry. On the contrary, due to the increased tendency to diseases of the upper respiratory tract, these breeds need a lot of attention and regular check-ups with the veterinarian.
Most often, whether a dog is panting a lot at night or when playing, it is still a symptom of a real illness, even if it is not constantly observed. The main task for a guardian is to monitor the frequency of its occurrence, duration and general condition of the pet’s health. For example, dyspnea in a dog after surgery is permissible only if the veterinarian had forewarned about it. If such symptoms were not specified something has to be assumed wrong in the animal’s body system. At the same time, there are breeds that, after long walks, especially in summer, are always panting with an open mouth. They could be offered some water and a quiet spot to cool off and get some rest.