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By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Unlike humans who are able to sweat, dogs need to pant occasionally as a way of cooling themselves down. Dogs pant on a temporary basis whenever exerting extra energy or after exercise or strenuous activity.

But be aware that dogs can also pant as a symptom for something more serious as well. They may excessively pant when under various forms of stress. They can also do so as a symptom of a medical illness, an injury or from heat stroke. Panting can also be symptomatic of fever, congestive heart failure, respiratory disease, infections, anemia, or even heartworms.

It can even mean an obstruction in the throat. Check the gums. If they are pale or bluish in color, it means lack of oxygen.

Excessive panting can also indicate poisoning; other symptoms may include vomiting, lethargic behavior, drooling and/or convulsions. Panting accompanied with shaking can indicate severe stress, especially with a change in routine or environment.

Overall, panting as a way of cooling down is natural and temporary. But if your dog is excessively panting without having exercised; if providing water hasn’t helped and if the panting progresses at a rapid rate, you need to seek out the reason why.

Don’t panic as your dog can panic more and react to your nervous energy. Instead, speak in a calm soothing voice but call your vet immediately.

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