If you have noticed that your Australian Shepherd pants often, you may be concerned. Or, you may simply be curious about why this is. Well, regardless, here is your explanation for why your pooch is panting so much as well as what you can do about it.
What is Considered Abnormal Breathing with Australian Shepherds?
First things first, what is considered panting for Australian Shepherds?
You have to remember that, on average, your Australian Shepherd may breathe faster than you. Most humans will take between 12 to 16 breaths a minute. Your dog, on the other hand, may breathe at a rate of around 15 to 30 breaths per minute.
So, your pooch will only pant if they are breathing faster than what is normal.
In many instances, your dog’s panting may be accompanied by a hanging tongue.
Reasons for Your Australian Shepherd’s Panting
Now, let’s take a look at the top reasons for Australian Shepherd panting:
Your Aussie Is Overheated
Yes, one of the top reasons your pup may be panting is because they are trying to cool down.
You may have realized that dogs don’t sweat. As a result, their body has to find another way to regulate their temperature and this is through panting.
When your dog is overheated, the blood vessels in their skin and tongue will dilate. This brings hot blood to the surface.
Simultaneously, your dog begins to breathe more rapidly. This causes air outside of his body to pass through wet tissue such as the nose and pick up moisture.
As this moisture makes its way through the body, it picks up the heat that has been generated. This hot air is then exhaled through the mouth.
The hotter a dog is, the more rapidly it will begin to pant.
Strenuous Physical Activity
The hallmark of an Australian Shepherd is an active dog who runs and plays. So, it is most common to find your dog panting after significant physical activity.
To a certain degree, the panting is triggered by overheating. The more your pooch exercises, the hotter he gets.
However, your dog will also pant to replenish the oxygen supply in his body.
As with humans, dogs use up their oxygen reserves more quickly when they are physically active. The harder they play, the more their body requires.
When they finally settle down, their body has to make up for this and the increased breathing rate – panting – helps them to get more oxygen quickly.
The panting should cease once your dog has cooled down and they have built up their oxygen stores again.
Your Aussie is Reacting with Excitement
Yes, Australian Shepherds may pant when they are excited as well.
This will often be in direct response to something. Maybe you have used one of their favorite words, they are happy to see you, or something enjoyable is taking place.
Here, the panting may be rapid and shallow. It may also be accompanied by whining or other behaviors such as leaping.
Your Australian Shepherd Might Be Experiencing Anxiety
In other instances, your dog may begin to pant if they are stressed out about something.
So, they will begin to pant to stimuli or an environment that they are scared of. This could be anything from a vacuum cleaner and thunderstorm to a trip to the vet’s office.
With this type of panting, your pooch may exhibit other stress symptoms. This could be pacing, hiding, and shivering.
Your Aussie Is in Pain
It is possible that your dog is in pain and the panting is a symptom. Dogs may also do this if they are feeling nauseous.
Watch your dog closely to see if they are gagging, coughing up saliva, or acting as if they are about to throw up.
You should also determine if your dog is limping or moving in an odd way. In some cases, your dog may react with aggression if they irritate an injury or if you accidentally cause them more discomfort.
Side Effects of Medication
There are some medications such as steroids that can cause excessive panting.
If your pup is on any kind of medication, it is a good idea to check the side effects that may accompany them. Even though this may be normal, it is a good idea to speak to your vet about what can be done.
Your vet may want to lower the dosage or try a different medication. So, you shouldn’t ignore this issue.
What You Can Do About Your Aussie Panting
Here is what you can do in relation to the panting:
Help Your Australian Shepherd to Cool Down
If your dog is panting on a hot day or because they have just been running around, there are a few things you can do to help them cool down.
Firstly, move your dog into the shade if you are aren’t close to home. If you are home, take them inside and turn on a fan, with the wind directed at them.
When your dog pants, they lose moisture. This means that they are going to need to replenish. Leave a bowl of cool water near your dog but don’t force them to drink.
At first, your dog may need to focus on panting to cool themselves down. Once they have managed this, they can drink water and rehydrate.
If the panting continues, you can hose your dog down with lukewarm water – don’t make it cold or too hot as this can cause them to take even longer to cool down.
You can speed up the effort by keeping them in a room with a fan.
Reduce Physical Activity Of Your Aussie
It doesn’t matter if your dog is hot or tired, when they are panting, don’t make them move around at all.
This is especially important to remember if you are out and about or going on a hike. When you notice that your dog is panting, move them to a cool and shaded area and have them sit or lie down.
If your dog is inclined to follow you around, you should sit beside them and encourage them to stay still until they have cooled down and regrouped their energy.
Preventing Your Dog from Overheating
During the warm months, it is important to prevent your pooch from overheating.
Always check on them to make sure that they are in a well-ventilated area. It is a good idea to keep them in the same room as you so that you have a better idea of how warm the room actually is.
When the temperature gets too high, you may want to move your dog into an air-conditioned room or let them lie near or under a fan.
Make sure that they have constant access to fresh, cool water. You can even give them some iced cubes or frozen dog treats.
If your pooch is especially susceptible to the heat, get them a pet cooling pad to sleep on. This can prevent them from feeling overheated.
As for exercise, only take them outside during the coolest times of the day – early morning or evening. Make sure they are inside when the sun is at its highest.
Reduce Stressful Stimuli Of Your Aussie
As mentioned, panting can be a response to stress as well.
If you notice this, it is important to remove the stimuli as soon as possible. For instance, if your dog hates the vacuum cleaner, let them outside while you are cleaning the house.
If the problem is fireworks, see if they will wear noise canceling headphones or find another way to minimize the noise.
In most instances, your pooch should calm down shortly after the stimuli is removed. Make sure to stay with them and offer cuddles and affection until they are back to feeling normal.
When Should You Be Worried About Your Aussie Panting?
In most cases, your Australian Shepherd’s panting is normal and will cease once they have either cooled down, rested up, or are in a place where they feel safe.
Even so, it is important to realize when things may not be well. Below, you can find the instances where panting may not be considered normal.
In such instances, it is important to visit the vet quickly. They should be able to deduce what is wrong and offer the appropriate treatment. Remember, the longer you wait, the worse things can get.
When in doubt, call up your vet. It is far better to experience a false alarm than a missed symptom.
When There Isn’t a Reason for Panting
If your dog is panting because of the hot weather, or exercise, you shouldn’t worry too much. This is because there are various solutions you can try.
However, if your pup appears to be panting without a cause, then you should be concerned. This could be due to a health condition. If your dog appears to constantly pant even when they are cool or calm, then this warrants a visit to the vet.
When the Panting Continues
Panting is only temporary behavior. If your dog’s panting continues for an extended period of time, it means that the root cause wasn’t attended to.
This can be especially dangerous in the case of overheating. If your dog’s temperature gets too high for too long, it can lead to organ damage and other health issues.
However, it isn’t always possible to cool down your dog at home. This may be the case in very hot conditions or if your pup has had too much exercise.
In such a situation, your vet may have to resort to other tactics to cool them down and preventing their health from being affected.
You Can’t Pinpoint the Stressful Stimuli
In some cases, it is easy to figure out what is scaring your dog. Then, you can remove the stimuli or your dog from that environment and help them to calm down.
If you aren’t entirely sure what the stimuli is, you may not be able to help your dog.
As you are aware, a dog’s sense of smell and hearing i superior to that of humans. As a result, they could potentially be reacting to something that you can’t see, hear, or smell.
It is also not unusual for some dogs to develop certain types of anxiety disorders. In this case, completely random stimuli may make your dog uncomfortable.
If this is the case, your vet will have to start treating them with anti-anxiety medication to help them deal with their environment or fears better.
There are Other Symptoms or Behaviors
If you are worried about your dog’s panting, take a look to see if they are exhibiting any other behaviors or symptoms.
Do they appear to be fatigued, having trouble standing up, or drooling excessively? Are they making odd noises, moving around erratically, being aggressive, or hiding?
Anything that can be considered out of the ordinary behavior is a clue that something is wrong and that a medical condition or some other issue may be causing the panting.
What To Do If Australian Shpeherd Panting Sounds Odd
It is a good idea to listen to your dog’s panting. Now, you know what regular panting sounds like. If this noise doesn’t change, then your dog may be fine.
However, if there is an abrasive quality to the panting, it could be due to a breathing issue and is abnormal.
If the panting is interspersed by snorting sounds, this could indicate a respiratory problem as well.
In general, though, if the panting sounds off or odd in any way, it is a good idea to get medical assistance for your pup.
These are all the reasons that your Australian Shepherd may be panting more than normal. If you follow the solutions given here and the panting ceases, that’s good news. If not, make sure to get medical assistance as soon as possible as your pup may need it.