Why Do Dogs Pant?
Dogs pant to cool off when they are feeling hot. When our body temperature gets too high, we sweat. Evaporation of sweat from the skin takes up a lot of heat, and helps cool the body. But dogs are almost completely covered with hair, and have very few sweat glands. They can’t keep cool by sweating.
Instead, a dog pants. It sticks out its tongue and breathes rapidly. By panting, a dog moves air back and forth over the moist tissues of its mouth and tongue. As the moisture evaporates, body heat is carried away, and the dog feels cooler.
Once their body temperature rises, dogs can’t sweat through their skin like we do to cool off. Dogs do sweat through their paw pads, but it’s by panting that dogs circulate the necessary air through their bodies to cool down. Panting is a sign that your dog is excited, hot, or both.
But panting is also a warning sign. If your dog is taking a break from exercise and continues to pant heavily, this could be a sign of heatstroke – a medical emergency. Move your dog to a cool spot or indoors immediately. When playing with your dog outside in hot weather, it’s vital to bring along water for drinking too.