We love to know as much about our four legged pals as possible and one of the questions we often get is 'why do dogs pant?'. After all, when we get hot and bothered yes, we might sweat and breath heavier but we don't roll our tongues out and pant away. So just exactly why do dogs pant?
Unlike horses, dogs do not sweat through the skin; they sweat through the tongue and nose, so that when a dog is panting, he is not necessarily thirsty. He is just sweating. Naturally if exertion makes a dog pant for long, he loses fluid, which he will have to replace by drinking water. Panting does not necessarily mean thirst, but a thirsty dog will often pant.
Panting: An Early Warning Sign of Something More Serious?
Excessive panting may indicate distress, and dogs should be taken into a shady or cool place or they may get a heatstroke. It is not unknown for dogs to die at shows in hot weather from heatstroke.
If a stroke is threatened, immediately put cold compresses to the dog's head or, if the temperature is extremely high, immerse the dog in cold water until the temperature is reduced to about 103°, which is fairly safe for a dog. Of course the animal must be dried off, or chill may result.
If the animal has not lost consciousness, cool drinks are invaluable. Shutting dogs in cars with the windows closed is one cause of heatstroke. Only thoughtless owners would do such a thing.
So there you have it, dogs pant because they don't sweat in the same way we do. Panting is the dog's own unique cooling system, it allows them to cool their body by sweating via their tongues.