Panting is when dogs breathe rapidly with their mouth open and tongue hanging out like a slobbery yo-yo. You know what we’re talking about. So other than as an effective method of drool distribution, why do they do it?
Keeping their cool
Some dogs may occasionally pant when they’re excited or afraid, but the main reason is to help keep themselves from overheating.
In a recent IAMS™ survey,* a majority of dog parents believed that dogs have sweat glands. But dogs don’t sweat like humans do. “We have glands all over our body. Dogs can’t do that,” says
Opens a new windowDr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager, Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute. “They have sweat glands on their paw pads, but that’s the only place.” They rely on panting to let out warm air and bring in cooler air. All that drool and fluid in their mouth helps dissipate the heat as well. It’s like a big soggy air conditioner.
Most mammals, and even many birds, pant to regulate their temperatures. Humans are some of the only creatures who cool down by perspiration. Imagine what dogs think of us losing fluid from all over our bodies, sweating through our clothes and needing to wipe our faces all the time. Fortunately, they love us anyway.
How to help your overheated dog
Panting is normal, but it expends lots of water, so make sure Fido’s bowl is full of clean, cool H2O, especially during warmer months.
Opens a new windowDr. Tammie King, Applied Behavior Technical Leader at Waltham Petcare Science Institute, suggests “seeking out cool shade, giving them water and stopping physical activity.”
And it goes without saying — but we’re going to say it anyway — that you should never leave your dog in your vehicle on hot days. Even if they’re driving. Which you shouldn’t let them do either.
Signs of an overheated dog
Some dogs run a higher risk of overheating. “It’s very easy for dogs to overheat on very hot days,” cautions Dr. Jo Gale. “Any dog with a squashed face — bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese — their nasal passages are not able to cool the air as much.” She added that dogs with heavy coats, overweight dogs, and very old or very young pets also can’t control their body temperature as effectively.
If your pooch seems to be panting more than usual or at unusual times, check to see if they’re having trouble breathing, are shaking, or their gums or tongue have noticeably changed color. If so, make sure they have access to water, get them to a cool place and contact your vet.
*Surveyed U.S. dog owners, age 18+
Sample Size: n=201
Fielded May 8-10, 2020
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Does your mature dog sniff at his bowl and walk away instead of digging in? You may think he’s just being picky, but it’s important to keep an eye on how much he’s eating — especially if he’s a senior. While age-related diminishment of the senses of smell and taste may account for some of his disinterest in food, appetite loss can also indicate a serious medical problem.
“It’s important to give your dog enough calories because weight loss can be debilitating to senior pets,” says Wendy Brooks, D.V.M., who warns that a loss in appetite should be mentioned to your vet. A good rule of thumb: If your pet hasn’t eaten in a day, make a visit to the vet. Here are six ways to entice your canine friend with a nourishing meal.
6 Ways to Encourage Your Senior Dog to Eat More
1. Mix Dry Food with Moist Food
Many animals find canned food more palatable because they like the taste and texture, Brooks says. You can top their favorite dry food with room-temperature wet food.
2. Warm It Up
Dogs like a warm or room-temperature (not hot or cold) meal. Avoid serving him day-old wet food from the refrigerator, and keep his food away from heat. Another reason he might not be eating: It's too hot outside.
3. Try a Change
Dogs prefer consistency when it comes to their food. Don't change every day, but try a new flavor, such as lamb or chicken, and see if he responds (it may trigger his sense of smell). To avoid an upset stomach, introduce a new food by mixing it with his old food in equal increments each day.
4. Stay Close
Common mature-dog health issues, such as arthritis or joint pain, can make it difficult for him to access his bowls. Keep food and water where he spends most of his time. Put a water bowl on all floors of the house, too.
5. Keep the Fresh Water Flowing
Older pets are at a higher risk of dehydration. Provide a clean bowl with fresh water at all times. It will help prevent disease, such as a kidney condition, and aid in digestion.
6. Offer Praise
Dogs are people pleasers. If you see him eating, give him a little verbal reward. He'll know it makes you happy and will repeat the behavior.
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