You’ve finally brought your lovely new addition home, and now you’re worrying about every little cough, cry and sneeze. It’s very common to be concerned about a puppy. Their new owners want the best for them and to know that they are well.

At this time, they’re still so very small and you’re just in the process of finding out what is normal for your puppy. Panting is a key sign to be aware of. Most of the time it won’t be anything serious, indeed it is often perfectly natural. But, it’s a useful clue your puppy can give you about how he’s feeling.

Panting, what does it mean?

Panting is the rapid inspiration and expiration of air through an open mouth. Often with the tongue drooped out and lolling in the wind! All dogs do it, even puppies; however, on a side note, it’s definitely not normal in cats. If you see a cat panting or breathing with its mouth open, this means that something is wrong. 

There are a number of different causes of panting in puppies:

Being too warm

The most common cause of panting is being warm. Panting is the normal and effective mechanism by which dogs can maintain a normal temperature when it’s warm outside. It allows for heat loss through evaporation of moisture from the tongue and mouth.

Puppies aren’t as efficient at regulating their temperatures as adult dogs. As a result, they are more susceptible to getting too warm or cold. Whilst it is important that your puppy is kept warm, make sure they’re not getting too hot. Puppies will normally move around themselves to seek out warmer or cooler areas depending on how they feel, so ensure that he has a cool space that he can move to if he wishes.

Pain

Pain and discomfort can cause a dog to pant. Often, a puppy panting because it’s uncomfortable will show additional signs, such as lethargy, crying, moaning or drooling. They may also be withdrawn, restless or may just not want to move around.

Stress 

Panting can also indicate a stressed puppy, and here it may also be accompanied by drooling. If your puppy seems otherwise well, and is definitely not overheating, then he may be panting because he finds himself in a stressful, or unusual situation.

This can include situations created between pets of the same household. So be attentive to how your puppy is getting along with other furry members of the family. You might need to take measures to diffuse any tension and avoid triggers of stressful situations for your puppy. For example, around mealtimes or in certain areas of the house. 

Breathing problems 

Whilst it could appear that a puppy is just panting, it may actually have a problem breathing and be in some distress. Similarly, a puppy panting because of a respiratory problem may seem to pant, but, on closer inspection, the way they are breathing is different.

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Often, they will be putting more effort into breathing in or breathing out, sometimes both, and there may be some noise associated with breathing too. Most of the time, because they have an underlying problem, these will not appear to be well puppies. They will generally have other signs like lethargy, coughing, inappetence, fever or nasal discharge. Such puppies need urgent veterinary attention. 

To sum up…

Panting is generally a normal behaviour, seen commonly amongst dogs and puppies. It’s generally nothing to worry about, so try not to panic if you see your puppy panting. In some instances, it reflects that there’s something bothering the puppy.

Make sure to keep an eye on how warm his environment is, and watch how other family members (furry and human) interact with him so see when it happens. If you feel that your puppy is panting too often, or if he seems to be unwell in any other way, then get him booked in with your local vets to make sure that he doesn’t have anything more serious going on. 

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