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5 Reasons Old Dogs Pant So Much: (& What To Do)

As a dog owner, you’re likely familiar with your canine companion’s panting. But when your old dog starts panting excessively, it can be cause for concern.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind your senior dog’s panting and provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about their health.

You’ll learn the common reasons, how to help, and when it’s time to call the vet.

What is panting?

Panting is a natural mechanism for dogs to regulate their body temperature.

Dogs don’t have sweat glands like humans, so they rely on panting to cool themselves down.

Panting can also be a sign of excitement, anxiety, or pain in dogs.

While panting is a normal behavior for dogs, excessive panting can indicate a problem, especially in older dogs.

5 Common reasons for old dogs panting excessively

There are several reasons why your old dog may be panting more than usual. Understanding the potential causes can help you determine whether it’s a normal behavior or a symptom of a more serious issue.

1. Overheating

One of the most common reasons for excessive panting is overheating. Dogs can easily become overheated in hot weather, during physical activity, or in a warm environment.

Senior dogs are more susceptible to overheating, as their bodies are not as efficient in regulating temperature.

Keeping Senior Dogs Cool In Hot Weather

2. Pain or discomfort

Older dogs are more prone to experiencing pain or discomfort due to age-related conditions like arthritis, dental issues, or injuries. If your senior dog is panting excessively, it could be a sign that they’re in pain. Monitor your dog for other signs of pain, such as limping, stiffness, or reluctance to move.

3. Anxiety or stress

Panting can be a sign of anxiety or stress in dogs. Changes in routine, new environments, or loud noises can cause anxiety in senior dogs, leading to excessive panting. It’s essential to be aware of any changes in your dog’s life that could be causing stress or anxiety.

4. Obesity

Obesity is a growing problem in dogs, and it can lead to excessive panting. Overweight dogs have a harder time regulating their body temperature, which can result in increased panting. Additionally, obesity can exacerbate existing health issues, such as joint pain or respiratory problems, further contributing to panting.

5. Medical conditions

Excessive panting can be a symptom of several medical conditions, such as heart failure, respiratory disorders, or hormonal imbalances. Some common medical issues that can cause excessive panting in senior dogs include:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism

If you suspect your old dog’s excessive panting could be due to a medical issue, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Heavy panting in dogs: PetMD extra resource

Identifying Normal vs. Excessive Panting

It’s essential to recognize the difference between normal and excessive panting to determine if your senior dog requires attention.

Here are some guidelines to help you differentiate between the two:

➡️ Normal Panting

  • Occurs during or after exercise, or on hot days, as a natural way to regulate body temperature.
  • Generally lasts for a short period, and the dog’s breathing should return to normal once they’ve cooled down or rested.
  • The panting is not accompanied by other symptoms of distress or discomfort, such as coughing, wheezing, or labored breathing.

➡️ Excessive Panting

  • The panting is persistent, even after the dog has had time to cool down or rest.
  • The intensity of the panting is more pronounced, with more rapid or labored breathing.
  • The panting is accompanied by other unusual symptoms or behaviors, such as coughing, wheezing, restlessness, pacing, or reluctance to move.
  • The panting occurs in situations where it’s not expected, such as when the dog is resting in a cool environment or when there haven’t been any significant changes in temperature or activity level.

If you’re unsure whether your old dog’s panting is normal or excessive, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian. They can assess your dog’s overall health and help determine if any underlying issues need to be addressed.

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What to do if your old dog is panting too much

If you’re concerned about your senior dog’s excessive panting, there are several steps you can take to help them.

✅ Monitor the situation

Take note of when your dog is panting excessively, and try to identify any patterns or triggers. Keep track of the frequency, duration, and intensity of their panting, as well as any other unusual symptoms. This information can be helpful in determining the cause and providing valuable information to your veterinarian.

✅ Keep them cool

If overheating is the primary cause of your old dog’s panting, make sure they have a cool, comfortable environment to rest in. Provide plenty of shade and fresh water, and avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day. You can also use cooling mats or fans to help keep your dog’s temperature regulated.

✅ Visit the vet

If your old dog’s excessive panting is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, or if you’re unable to identify a clear cause, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. They can perform a thorough examination and run diagnostic tests to determine the underlying issue and recommend appropriate treatment.

Prevention and tips for managing excessive panting

To help prevent excessive panting in your senior dog, consider the following tips:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight: Keep your dog on a balanced diet and ensure they get regular exercise to prevent obesity, which can contribute to panting.
  2. Provide a comfortable environment: Ensure your dog’s living space is temperature-controlled, well-ventilated, and free from stressors.
  3. Manage anxiety and stress: Minimize changes in routine, provide a safe space for your dog to retreat to, and consider using calming aids, such as pheromone diffusers or anxiety-reducing supplements.
  4. Regular vet check-ups: Schedule regular veterinary visits for your senior dog to catch and address any potential health issues early on.
  5. Keep up with dental care: Regular teeth cleanings and at-home dental care can help prevent dental issues that could lead to pain and panting.

Last thoughts

To sum it up, excessive panting in old dogs can be caused by various factors, including overheating, pain, anxiety, obesity, and medical conditions.

Monitoring your dog’s panting and taking preventative measures can help ensure their health and comfort.

If you’re concerned about your senior dog’s panting, consult with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.