If you have been with your shih tzu for a quite a while, you may already have noticed that your dog likes to pant a lot. Maybe you are wondering why they do that. Is it normal? Is it safe? For your information, panting is a normal activity for dogs. It is their coping mechanism against too much heat. With this in mind, it is normal for your dog to pant after a heavy workout or when it is extremely hot outside.
But when does normal become abnormal? Panting becomes abnormal when it is done because of different reasons other than heat. You will know that the panting of your dog is abnormal when it features the following characteristics: excessive panting as compared to the normal panting pattern of the dog, occurs even when it is perfectly cold outside, has a louder, raspier and harsher sound, when your dog appears to exert more effort with every pant.
Why does my dog have abnormal panting, you may ask. Well, here are some answers:
Stress and anxiety
One of the most common reasons why your dog is panting heavily is because he is stressed out or anxious. You will know that the panting is brought about by stress and anxiety is when it is accompanied by tucked tail, crying or whining, trembling, flattened ears, pacing and the worst thing of all—loss of bladder and bowel control. If that is the case, you have to provide comfort to your dog because he needs it the most at that time.
When you dog is experiencing too much pain, he tries to cope up with it through excessive breathing. In fact, this is one of the first signs that your dog will show off when he is in pain. Additionally, pregnant dogs who are delivering babies also show heavy panting.
It is one of the most serious reasons why your dog is panting heavily. You will know that your dog is suffering from heart failure when it is associated with coughing and reduced tolerance for exercise. If this is the reason of heavy panting, then it is recommended that you bring your dog to the vet immediately.
Like humans, animals may suffer from anemia too. This condition is defined as the decrease in your dog’s red blood cells count. Since it is the red blood cells that are responsible for transporting the oxygen to the different tissues of the body, anemia may result to oxygen deprivation in the body.
There are some medications that may lead to heavy abnormal panting in dogs. Some of these medications include steroids like prednisone and prednisolone. With this in mind, it is recommended that you observe your dog’s breathing after giving him such medicines.
Sometimes, it can be quite difficult to determine whether the panting of your dog is normal or not. That is why it is recommended that you always keep a close eye on how your dog breathes so you can act on it when medical care is needed.