Why Do Dogs Pant?

We love to know as much about our four legged pals as possible and one of the questions we often get is 'why do dogs pant?'. After all, when we get hot and bothered yes, we might sweat and breath heavier but we don't roll our tongues out and pant away. So just exactly why do dogs pant?


Unlike horses, dogs do not sweat through the skin; they sweat through the tongue and nose, so that when a dog is panting, he is not necessarily thirsty. He is just sweating. Naturally if exertion makes a dog pant for long, he loses fluid, which he will have to replace by drinking water. Panting does not necessarily mean thirst, but a thirsty dog will often pant.

Panting: An Early Warning Sign of Something More Serious?

Excessive panting may indicate distress, and dogs should be taken into a shady or cool place or they may get a heatstroke. It is not unknown for dogs to die at shows in hot weather from heatstroke.

If a stroke is threatened, immediately put cold compresses to the dog's head or, if the temperature is extremely high, immerse the dog in cold water until the temperature is reduced to about 103°, which is fairly safe for a dog. Of course the animal must be dried off, or chill may result.

If the animal has not lost consciousness, cool drinks are invaluable. Shutting dogs in cars with the windows closed is one cause of heatstroke. Only thoughtless owners would do such a thing.

So there you have it, dogs pant because they don't sweat in the same way we do. Panting is the dog's own unique cooling system, it allows them to cool their body by sweating via their tongues.

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Jasmine Kleine

Jasmine Kleine

Jasmine Kleine is the the online editor at MyDogMagazine.com. She is an experienced dog owner and professional writer who lives with her two beloved dogs, Mabel and Charlie.


  1. Hi! With regard to the ‘why do dogs pant’ article, I would like to point out one comment that you may need to look into. I attended a dog first aid course recently which was taught by a vet and a professional dog therapist. It was explained that if a dog overheats, one thing you shouldn’t do is submerge it in water as this effectively ‘cooks’ the dog from the inside. The blood vessels open to cool a dog down, but cold constricts them so the heat cannot escape fully and the dog’s core doesn’t cool. We were advised that if you need to cool a dog down quickly only submerge up to their belly, or cover up their legs and stomachs with cold towels etc. When I thought about it this made sense to me especially as when my border collie becomes hot on a walk, she will go into shallow water or a puddle and lie down on her belly in it for a short time. (She doesn’t worry about the muddiness either!)

    I’m not a vet or professional dog expert but I was given this information in good faith and thought you may like to consider or look into it

    Thank you.

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