As with all dogs, panting is a very normal thing with golden retrievers. Usually, it is to cool off or regulate their body temperatures after a walk under the sun, a run or any form of exercise.
As a golden retriever owner, you may have noticed that they pant more often than other dog breeds. You tend to be worried when you notice that their panting is quite out of the ordinary. Some health reasons may account for your retriever’s excessive panting.
The question then is why is your golden retriever panting so much? We will look at some of the reasons in this article.
What Is Panting?
Heavy breathing with short, quick breaths, usually with open mouths is what we term panting. Everyone pants: humans and animals alike and it is mostly after engaging in extreme physical activity such as running. When dogs pant, they usually have their tongues out in a protruded manner.
Is Panting A Natural Behaviour For My Golden Retriever?
Yes! No need to be distressed if your golden retriever seems to be panting more than usual. Although, as we have mentioned, there could be some health implications why they are panting so much, it is really very natural for golden retrievers to pant more than other breeds.
As humans, we sweat through the pores of our skin to cool off. Dogs do not do that, rather they pant to surfeit body heat through their mouth.
It is even normal for a golden retriever to have his whole tongue out, drooling all over the place.
Why do they do that?
Why Is My Golden Retriever Panting So Much?
1. As mentioned early on, the most common reason your golden retriever will pant is to cool off. This is how they get rid of excess heat, taking in oxygen into their lungs and bloodstream. Excess heat accumulates in your retriever’s dense double coat and extra-long fur and can cause a heatstroke which can be very fatal for him.
Aside from outside hot temperatures, indoor warm temperatures or even a blow dryer used on him after a bath can be too warm for your retriever.
This can cause excessive panting. You will need to take your retriever to a cooler room and provide him with water to aid in quick cooling.
2. Your lovely golden retriever can also pant excessively when they experience stress, anxiety or fear, usually caused by loud noises like fireworks, thunderstorms, sirens and parties. Also, when excitability, which is normal for golden retrievers turns into extreme anxiety, they tend to pant to express that anxiety and a retriever owner, should look out for this.
Some dogs will be pacing, licking or chewing incessantly and these are also some signs of anxiety in your retriever.
Sometimes during a car ride or waiting at the vet’s office, you may experience this type of excessive panting in your retriever.
Golden retrievers also tend to show what we call fight or flight behaviour when something scars them. For instance, a huge sound of thunder or fireworks results in so much panting. This is a normal response to fearful stimuli.
According to an article on flight or fight response in dogs by renowned dog trainer Adrienne Farricelli, some physiological reactions of dogs to anxiety and fear include an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow to muscles, blood sugars, clotting and muscle tension – all useful in ensuring that muscles are readied to either fight or sprint away as fast as possible.
Whichever outcome your dog chooses will ultimately lead to an increase in breathing and panting as their bodies require higher oxygen to cool down.
It is thus clear that your golden retriever’s body temperature is increased by stress, anxiety and fear amidst a host of other reactions that increase the demand for more oxygen in the muscles and heart.
Now, in the same way, humans sweat and breathe heavily to calm down when experiencing anxiety and fear, your golden retriever will pant heavily to cool down by increasing oxygen flow to the muscles and heart.
3. Another reason your golden retriever will pant is after exercising or playing, they will want to knock off some heat and as such heavy panting after this should not be surprising to owners. In fact, golden retrievers love to engage in physical activities; exercising, training and playing. Yes, they love to burn energy!
They are athletic and very active in nature and as such are prone to excessive panting as a natural response. Of course, training, exercising and playing require that more oxygen gets to the muscles and heart. Panting does the trick for your golden retriever.
When your golden retriever is panting, what is happening is that he is getting rid of the excess heat through water evaporation from its lung, mouth and nasal passages. This regulates his body temperature, which is a positive thing for him.
4. As aforementioned in this article, there may be some health implications if your golden retriever is panting more than usual.
One of them is ageing in dogs. Age is another cause of excessive panting in your golden retriever. As you may have already noticed, your golden retriever is panting more often than before, now that he is older.
This is because as opposed to young puppies who are energetic and tend to move around freely, elderly retrievers often experience some difficulties moving around due to arthritis, and joint issues common in aged dogs.
Your aged retriever may find it difficult to exercise or run up and down your home, like he used to before and tends to pant much heavily now when he tries to do even half of what he used to do.
This is a normal effect of ageing in dogs. Although panting in ageing dogs is quite normal, you should discuss pain medications with your vet if you have a feeling that your retriever is experiencing some pains in his joints.
Even in puppies, where panting is considered normal, there may be some instances where excessive panting might have to do with some health implications. You should get in touch with your vet immediately if you find your retriever’s panting worrying.
5. If your golden retriever develops cancer, which they are known for usually developing, it spreads to their lungs and causes breathing issues that might affect their panting.
You should let your vet check your retriever’s abdomen if you notice a mass growing down there. This affects other organs in your dog’s body, putting pressure on them and causing your dog pain and making him pant.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are available to help treat their cancer so they don’t pant that much. You should seek assistance from your vet at all times.
6. Respiratory diseases can be deadly causes of excessive panting in your golden retriever. Pneumonia, kennel cough, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung tumours are but a few of the respiratory diseases that affect dogs.
These inhibit proper breathing in dogs and thus prevent adequate oxygen from getting into their muscles and heart. Your golden retriever then tries to pant more in a quest to get more oxygen into his body.
There are other respiratory risks such as cancerous growths in your golden retriever’s chest and lungs. They occur as your retriever gets older. It causes their lungs to fully enlarge, making them pant more.
Seek advice from your vet and have them check your dog via an x-ray to see what’s happening if your dog is having unusual pants.
7. Allergic reactions can also cause your golden retriever to pant more. As naturally venturesome animals, the risk of golden retrievers coming into contact with or even eating something containing allergens is very high.
In instances like this, your retriever can experience swellings, irritations or a change in mood, resulting in an increased panting rate due to discomfort. See your vet immediately if you suspect that your golden retriever is having allergic reactions.
8. Cushing’s disease in golden retrievers is another cause of increased panting. This usually affects their adrenal gland causing them to produce too much cortisol. The urge to produce too much cortisol makes your retriever pants more.
Alert your vet to check your dog to see if the problem has to do with Cushing’s disease. The right medication can help your dog regain his normal panting rate.
How Do I Know My Retriever’s Panting Is Abnormal?
Your golden retriever’s panting may have become intemperate and you’re certain this isn’t a result of warm temperatures or any physical activity. It could be a health issue like respiratory disease or Cushing’s disease or even exercise intolerance.
What you should look out for is intense and constant panting or breathing difficulties. If your dog’s panting is still extreme even after long hours of cooling down or he is experiencing laboured panting, you should call your vet to have your dog checked as this may be indicative of a rather genuine health concern.
How Can I Manage My Golden Retriever’s Panting?
At this point, you should be able to identify whether or not your retriever’s panting is normal or unusual.
If everything points to the fact that your lovely golden retriever’s panting is normal and not indicative of any health complications, here are some ways you can prevent your dog from having excessive panting and making him feel comfortable;
- Given their double-coated nature, you can assist your dog to cool down, especially in hot weather conditions, by giving him a cool bath. This way, your dog will not need to pant more than usual, trying to cool down. This will also prevent your dog from experiencing deadly heatstroke, especially after a walk or exercise under extreme warm weather conditions.
- We have noted anxiety as one of the reasons your retriever might pant excessively. One way you can avoid this is to comfort your dog when you notice a feeling of anxiety in them. It helps to calm them down so they don’t have to pant so much. Dogs naturally love comfort and attention. Give them that!
- Also, it is essential to provide your golden retriever with fresh, cold water at all times and especially after walks, exercises and training sessions. This helps them regulate and maintain normal body temperatures so they don’t pant so much trying to do that.
- Walking your dog at night, especially during hot summer weather conditions can be an ideal way of preventing excessive panting since your retriever’s body will not absorb so much heat. This way, it will only take your retriever the normal panting rate to cool down, thereby preventing excessive panting.
- Further, on really sunny days, you should provide a good outdoor shade for your retriever when he is playing or exercising, again, to prevent his body from absorbing excessive heat.
- Lastly, goldens love some cool breeze. If you have observed that your retriever pants at night most of the time, turn on a fan for them to get rid of any excess heat in their bodies.
Naturally, golden retrievers pant more than other breeds. This is normal as they need to do more to cool down after engaging in any physical activity than other breeds need to. As breeders and owners, you should be aware of your retriever’s panting rate so you don’t fret unnecessarily.
You should nonetheless look out for other signs when you notice excessive panting in your golden. Contact your vet if you’re not sure of anything. Do not hesitate as it might put your golden at risk.
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