Panting helps your dog circulate cool air throughout its body to better regulate its temperature. In most cases, panting is a completely normal side effect of being too hot or excited, but there may be a health condition or anxiety at play if the panting becomes excessive.
If you see your dog panting too much or for too long, there are steps you can take to calm it down so its breathing rate can return to normal. Keep reading to find our tips so you know exactly what to do if your dog starts excessively panting.
The 7 Ways to Calm a Panting Dog
1. Offer Water
One of the fastest ways to stop healthy panting is cool water. When a dog pants, water inside its lungs and nose evaporates to help cool it off. Providing water when it’s panting will help to replenish these reserves so it can get back to a normal state of breathing.
A panting dog can become dehydrated fast, so offering water should be at the top of your to-do list. If your pup doesn’t seem interested in drinking, you can try giving it ice cubes or a tasty frozen dog treat to see if that changes its mind.
If your pup stops panting after a cool drink, there’s no need for further concern.
2. Go Someplace Cool
If it’s hot outside and offering water doesn’t work, take your dog somewhere cool. If you’re outside at the park on a hot summer day and your dog starts panting excessively, it’s time to go back home. When you get home, go to a cool room and turn on a fan. If you’re spending the day inside and it becomes hot in your home, you could take your dog outside to get some fresh, cooler air to stop its panting.
3. Help Them Relax
If your dog’s panting is due to anxiety, offering water or taking it someplace cool probably won’t help. Instead, you will need to do what you can to help it relax.
First, you’ll need to check in with yourself. Are you feeling anxious because of your dog’s panting? If so, take a moment to step away so you can collect yourself. Dogs have an innate sense of knowing when their humans are upset or stressed, so you could be making its anxiety by exhibiting anxious behaviors yourself.
Next, take your pup someplace in your home that’s quiet and calm. Offer treats and play soothing music. A gentle massage can also help provide relief. Being present with your dog in its moments of anxiety can go a long way, too.
Your pup might feel anxious if it didn’t have enough time to burn off energy. If this is the case, try taking it on a short walk or playing with it for a few minutes to help them expel that built-up energy.
4. Invest in the Right Products
While this tip won’t help you at the moment, it’s worthwhile to consider investing in some products to help your dog’s panting if it’s a constant issue.
An anxiety wrap or thundershirt applies a gentle amount of pressure around your pup’s body to help them calm down. They’re a lot like swaddling a newborn baby. They are sold in stores and online.
Pheromones are another option as they can help quell mild anxiety and stress, which may be causing your dog’s panting. Pheromone products simulate the scent released by mother dogs when they’re nursing their young, producing a calming effect.
You might also wish to speak to your vet about calming supplements that may reduce your pup’s anxiety.
5. Consult Your Vet
You already know that panting is a normal part of every dog’s existence, but there comes a time when panting crosses the line into unhealthy behavior. If your dog shows any of the following symptoms, you should consult your vet:
- Panting that starts out of nowhere
- Not playing as usual
- Excessive drooling
Ask yourself if your dog’s panting matches the temperature outside or the level of activity it has been participating in. If not, this is a good indicator that it’s time to go see your vet.
6. Watch for Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration can happen fast during periods of excessive panting, so keep an eye open for the following signs of dehydration:
- Dry, sticky gums
- Stiff or firm skin (do a pinch test to check)
- Dry nose
- Sunken eyes
- Dry eyes
- Thick drool
7. Monitor for Signs of Heat Stroke
If your dog has been spending a lot of time outside in hot weather and is panting excessively, you must watch for signs of heat stroke. This immediate medical emergency can result in a coma or even death if you do not receive treatment immediately. Aside from panting, symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Elevated breathing rates
- Dry, sticky gums
- Abnormal gum coloration
- Gum bruising
- High temperature
Some breeds are more prone to develop heat stroke in warm weather. For example, dogs with thicker coats, flat faces, or those already suffering from a medical condition may be more predisposed to heat stroke.
What Causes Dogs to Pant?
If your dog’s panting is unusual, excessive, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, a call to your vet should be in order.
Panting is normal behavior in dogs, but you should still know how to calm your panting dog down if it becomes excessive. Our helpful tips above should help restore a normal breathing rate. But, if your dog doesn’t calm down after trying our tricks, you must seek veterinary care. Your vet can determine the cause behind your dog’s panting and provide insight into the best treatment option.