It can be a little worrying if you notice your cocker spaniel panting to no end. I’ve had to deal with this many times before and have spoken with numerous vets about it. I’ll explain when panting is normal and when it isn’t, what to do, and how to help.
Cocker Spaniels & Panting
Your cocker spaniel will pant primarily to cool themselves down. However, panting can be caused by other things such as excitement, stress, anxiety, and in response to unfamiliar events or situations.
In most cases, panting is a completely normal and natural response to being too hot. Panting is the primary way all dogs cool themselves down.
However, there are a few more reasons that can cause dogs to pant. These are still to be considered safe and perfectly normal.
Normal reasons why your cocker spaniel might pant:
- After exercise or playing
- After sunbathing
- Laying in a warm room (over 20c/68f)
- When travelling in the car
- When meeting new dogs or people
- After getting excited for any reason (ayfter returning home for example)
- In response to unfamiliar noises (thunourder, sirens, building works)
As you can see, there are many situations that could cause your cocker spaniel to pant. So before worrying it helps to consider the lead-up to the panting episode. Has your cocker spaniel done any of the above? Remember, panting is always caused by exercise.
Trending article: How to know if your Cocker Spaniel really loves you
When Panting Might Indicate Something Is Wrong
In some situations, however, panting could indicate that something isn’t quite right.
To gauge whether this is the case, we have to use common sense, and consider what has recently happened. Does your spaniel have a good reason to be panting? If she doesn’t then it could indicate one of the following.
For example, if your spaniel is calmly resting, it isn’t too hot, and she hasn’t recently exercised or done anything upbeat, then she shouldn’t really be panting.
1. Stress or anxiety
Stress and anxiety are both caused by a large variety of things, and symptoms can vary from physical or mental. Excessive panting is a fairly common symptom of excess stress and anxiety.
It’s admittedly hard to diagnose stress or anxiety, so it helps to consider your cocker spaniel’s daily routine. Is she being exercised enough? Does she receive mental stimulation? Is she being left alone all day? What’s her diet like?…
Her routine and day-to-day should contain a lot of activity, fun, mental stimulation, physical exercise, and your attention… When it comes to dogs, stress is mostly caused by an inadequate daily routine.
2. Health issues or allergies
Certain health issues in dogs like heart disease, Cushing’s disease or pulmonary disease can cause dogs to pant excessively with no explanation.
The same goes for various allergies. This is most likely allergies triggered by air pollutants like dust, mold, pollen, and perfumes, but it could be caused by certain ingredients in foods.
As I will explain below, it’s important to contact your veterinarian about unwarranted panting, as we at home cannot diagnose or identify serious issues like this.
3. Dehydration or heatstroke
Panting issues happen mostly when dogs are hot, and that’s perfectly normal, as it’s their primary way to cool down.
The problem with hot weather is that it can get too much, too quickly for our dogs, and before they know it, they’re severely dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke.
If it’s a hot day and your spaniel is panting a lot, check their tongue and mouth. If their tongue and gums are bright red, and their saliva is very thick and sticky, it’s an indication of dehydration. If this is accompanied by vomiting, nausea, dizziness, or difficulty walking then it’s absolutely indicative of dehydration and heatstroke.
If panting is coupled with any of these symptoms it’s recommended to call your vet for advice over the phone.
These problems can be avoided by keeping your spaniel in the shade and placing multiple water bowls around the house to encourage them to drink more.
4. Consuming something toxic
It’s normal for dogs to get up to no good when we aren’t watching. And spaniels in particular with their incredible sense of smell, can sniff out things in the yard we have no idea is there…
If your spaniel has gobbled something down from the kitchen worktop, trash can, yard, or public dog park, it could be causing a bad reaction.
There are many substances that dogs shouldn’t eat (many of which are in our foods!). Panting is definitely a symptom of having consumed something toxic or disagreeable.
Related article: Why isn’t my cocker spaniel eating? (and what to do)
How To Identify Excessive Panting vs Normal Panting
Okay, so you’ve read everything above, but are still confused between the difference of excessive panting vs normal panting… It’s understandable and it’s a good question.
As technical as I love to be, there is not a certain number of pants per minute you can go by to tell you what’s too much or okay.
The only way to identify what’s excessive vs normal is to consider the situation, as we explained above.
If you’re in the middle of winter, and your cocker spaniel hasn’t exercised, played, or done anything in the last one or two hours, she should not be panting. If she is, then that would already be considered excessive (and that something is potentially wrong).
How Can You Help In The Moment?
If you spot your cocker spaniel panting excessively and it can’t be explained, then it’s best to call your veterinarian for further advice. By giving them a call, they will ask you specific questions to your situation, and they will give you professional advice in the moment.
In the meantime, help your spaniel feel calm and relaxed by talking to her in a reassuring voice, ensuring she has access to water, and preventing anything else from further unsettling her.
Interesting read: Cocker Spaniel Sleep Guide: All Questions Answered
Is It Normal For Puppies To Pant Quickly
Puppies are a little different from adults, and it’s actually completely normal for them to breath and pant rather quickly.
If you see your cocker spaniel puppy panting quickly, try not to worry, as it’s perfectly normal in most cases. Unless of course you have reason to believe otherwise.
Puppies breath quicker than adult dogs because they have not yet learned to efficiently regulate body temperature. This is why puppies can get very cold and very hot quickly with only slight temperature changes. Panting is their way to regulate body temperature the best they can.
For the most part, panting is completely normal and will explained by either exercise, excitement, overheating, or in response to unfamiliar events or situations.
To identify when panting indicates something is wrong, it’s important to focus on the lead-up to that moment and your situation in general. Does the panting fit the situation and can it be explained? If it can’t then it’s best to give your vet a precautionary call.