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How Does Panting Cool a Dog?

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Dogs pant to lower their body temperature when they are feeling hot. Panting allows excess heat to exit their bodies, allowing cool air to enter. It also allows water to evaporate from their nose and lungs.

Dogs run, walk, exercise, and jump all the time. Working out too much or staying too long under the sun leads to overheating in dogs.

But because dogs don’t have sweat glands like humans, the moisture and heat can’t escape.

Dogs rely on panting to cool their bodies. It is a natural behavior of dogs common to every single breed.

This article explores how panting cools dogs and gives you key points to differentiate between normal and abnormal panting.

How Does Panting Cool a Dog?

Panting allows the exchange of heat via air, lowering a dog’s body temperature. It is the most common method dogs use to cool down their bodies.

Excessive heat can easily raise your dog’s body temperature. Humans sweat to allow heat to escape, but dogs don’t have sweat glands, apart from in their paws.

Instead, dogs have their own way of beating the heat. Panting is the first thing a dog does to cool its body. 

The process of panting involves three basic steps same as breathing normally:

  • Inhaling
  • Humidifying
  • Exhaling

The main heat exchange happens during humidifying. The inhaled air quickens the evaporation of water in your dog’s lungs. Evaporation causes the water molecules to move away from the surface and turn into vapors.

Heat amplifies the process of evaporation, and temperature is lowered due to the conversion of water into vapors.[1]

The heat loss due to panting helps cool down your dog’s body.

Does Panting Cool a Dog

What is the Purpose of Panting?

Panting is a natural behavior of dogs. They use it to cool down their bodies or to communicate with their owners about how they feel.

Panting is a natural behavior. Dogs pant due to a variety of reasons:

  • Lowering body temperature.
  • Anxiety.
  • Fear.
  • Pain.
  • Sickness, especially nausea.[2]

Among these, the most common reason for panting in dogs is overheating. Dogs pant to lower their body temperature on a hot summer day or after an extensive workout.

Maintaining Body Temperature

Dogs must maintain normal body temperature to remain active and healthy. High body temperature leads to hyperthermia which can develop into a heatstroke[3]. If your dog is unable to lower its body temperature, it can suffer organ damage or, in extreme cases, organ failure.

Panting helps get rid of the excess heat via evaporation which lowers the body temperature. It is normal to find your dog panting heavily after a run or on warm days. Excessive panting can be a sign of something more serious which requires urgent veterinary care.

Consult a veterinarian if your dog shows any signs of heatstroke or the panting continues over time.

What is the Purpose of Panting

Providing Adequate Oxygen

Another reason dogs pant is to allow excess oxygen into their bodies. Exercise and running burn a lot of energy. This process causes the release of carbon dioxide into the bloodstream, which is unhealthy for extended periods.

Panting helps remove the carbon dioxide from the blood and replace it with fresh oxygen. This is the body’s way of performing homeostasis[4] and is natural for humans and dogs.

Why Can’t Dogs Sweat to Cool Themselves?

Dogs can’t cool themselves because of a lack of sweat glands. Sweat glands help heat escape via sweat. As dogs only have these in their paws, it’s difficult for them to cool down. Panting is the only viable option for dogs to lower their body temperature.

Why don’t dogs cool themselves via sweating? Because they can’t.

Unlike humans, dogs do not have a high number of sweat glands. Sweat glands produce sweat which helps lower the body temperature. Heat escapes along with the moisture.

Most of the sweat glands in dogs are in their paws. Since they do not sweat, it is difficult for them to cool themselves.

Dogs’ fur makes it even more difficult for the moisture to evaporate. Panting is the only option available to your dog to bring its body temperature down.

Does Panting Cause Evaporation?

Yes, evaporation is the main reason behind excessive panting. Panting helps dogs to lose their body heat and cool themselves.

Evaporation is the process by which water is converted into vapors. Heat accelerates this process resulting in heat loss.

Panting uses the principle of evaporation and helps dogs lose excess heat. A dog’s nose is wet on the inside. When your dog breathes, it takes in moisture and air particles into the lungs. This moisture absorbs the heat and turns it into vapors.

These vapors are then released into the environment when your dog exhales. Constant panting helps lose a lot of heat quickly, making it an effective method to cool down your dog’s body.

Does Panting Cause Evaporation

How to Know if Your Dog is Too Hot

If panting continues for a while or if you notice unusual signs such as shaking or drooling, it is possible your dog is overheating and unable to cool down effectively. Consult a veterinarian to provide proper treatment and care to your pooch.

Hot summer days can be unbearable for dogs. If your dog loves playing outside, especially during extreme heat, it is at risk of developing heatstroke.

There are several signs of heatstroke:

  • Heavy breathing
  • Drooling
  • Shaking
  • Bright red gums
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness

Heatstroke can be fatal if left untreated. If you notice any of these signs, take your dog straight to a veterinarian to avoid any complications.

Conclusion

Dogs pant for a variety of reasons. The most common being overheating. If your dog is feeling hot, it is going to pant heavily to lower its body temperature. Panting in hot weather is normal and is usually not a cause for concern.

If you find your dog panting after a strenuous exercise or during the boiling weather, do not be alarmed. Take the necessary steps to cool your dog if the panting does not slow down.

Excessive panting is a sign of an underlying condition that requires attention. Consult a veterinarian to provide your dog with adequate treatment, especially in the case of heatstroke.

FAQs

What is the Fastest Way to Cool Down a Dog?

Heavy panting is a dog’s way to cool itself down. This is an effective method but not the fastest. The quickest way to cool down a dog is by giving it chilled water. Drinking cold water helps dogs cool their bodies from the inside, lowering your dog’s body temperature.

Why is My Dog Panting So Hard?

Heavy panting can mean several different things. If the environment is hot, your dog is panting to cool itself down. Panting is a natural process dogs use to lower their body temperature. If the weather is fine, there can be some other factors contributing to your dog’s panting. Fear, anxiety, stress, pain, sickness, and even happiness can cause panting in dogs. Consult a veterinarian if the panting becomes obsessive or if your dog’s condition worsens.

How Do I Keep My Dog Cool?

There are several steps you can take to cool down your dog. The most important is giving your dog something cold to drink. This will help cool down your dog quickly and reduce the chances of hyperthermia. Let your dog rest in shaded areas to avoid direct sunlight. Lay wet towels on your dog’s body to cool it via evaporation. Baths and showers are also great options to keep your dog cool. 

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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