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You probably already know that all dogs pant as a way to cool themselves down, but, you’re super worried because your Golden Retriever seems to be panting a bit too much.
There are times when panting is completely normal in Golden Retrievers, but there are also times when panting signals an underlying health issue.
How much panting is normal? When should you worry about your Golden Retriever’s panting?
Find out as we reveal everything you need to know about your Golden Retriever’s panting.
Why Does My Golden Retriever Pant So Much?
The most common reason why your Golden Retriever is panting so much is heat. Panting is how your Golden Retriever cools himself down from being overheated due to the weather or from physical activity. Panting while your Golden Retriever is hot, exercising or excited, is considered normal. Excessive, heavy panting that occurs at odd times may be caused by obesity, stress and anxiety, pain, underlying health issues, or a medical emergency.
1. Panting Is A Normal Way For Your Golden Retriever To Cool Down
Panting in both adult Golden Retrievers and puppies is normal behaviour, especially when it is hot outside.
Panting is your dog’s cooling mechanism because your dog can’t sweat to cool off as you can.
Don’t get me wrong, your dog has sweat glands on the bottom of his paws, but the tiny amount of sweat released from his paws is not sufficient at cooling him off.
Instead, your dog uses his mouth to cool off.
When your Golden Retriever pants, his mouth is open and his tongue is usually hanging out of his mouth, and he is breathing rapidly.
During panting, air flows through your dog’s nose and mouth and causes water to evaporate on the tongue.
The water released cools down the tongue and lowers your dog’s core body temperature.
2. Physical Activity & Excitement Cause Normal Panting
You may notice that your Golden Retriever pants heavily after any kind of physical activity, whether it’s running, playing fetch, or playing with other dogs.
This is normal behaviour. Physical activity has raised your dog’s core body temperature, and he is panting in order to regulate his temperature.
Excitement can also cause panting, such as meeting new people, going to new places, playing with a new toy, or getting a treat.
You’ll notice that this type of panting is rapid and shallow, and sometimes your dog will whine out of excitement too.
My Golden Retriever Ellie pants and whines when she sees her favourite people!
3. Your Golden Is Stressed Anxious Or Scared
Panting can also be brought on by stress, anxiety or fear.
You’ll want to watch your Golden Retriever’s body language closely, as panting is also accompanied by other signs that indicate your Golden is scared, anxious, or feeling stressed.
Other signs to watch out for include:
- Tail Tucked In
- Lip Licking
- Pacing Back and Forth
Anxiety, stress and fear can be brought on by a number of things.
Common causes include thunderstorms and other loud noises, going to the vet or groomer, and separation anxiety.
The signs that your dog is stressed or anxious can be subtle, and you’ll want to assess the situation to determine how you can make your dog feel more at ease, and prevent him from becoming more anxious.
4. Pain Can Cause Your Golden Retriever To Pant
Oftentimes the signs that your dog is in pain go unnoticed because dogs are so good at hiding their pain.
But, panting is sometimes the first sign of pain, especially when it happens during odd times or out of the blue.
If your dog is panting but hasn’t been exercising or feeling overheated, it could be because he is in pain.
You’ll want to look for any other indicators such as whining, whimpering, trembling, shaking, or limping.
While panting is normal behaviour for dogs, panting all of a sudden is a signal that something is wrong.
Your vet will be able to determine if your dog’s panting is brought on by pain.
5. Certain Medications Cause Excessive Panting
Certain medications such as prednisone and other steroids, as well as opioids used for pain management, and excess thyroid medication can all cause increased panting.
Panting is a common side effect of these drugs. Always be sure to read the list of side effects, and discuss any concerns with your vet.
6. Underlying Health Issues Cause Excessive Panting
Being overweight can cause your Golden Retriever to pant more than normal.
All of that excess weight puts pressure on your dog’s internal organs, and overweight dogs tend to get heated easier and faster than healthy-weight dogs.
You can find out what a healthy weight is for a Golden Retriever in my previous article.
Cushing’s Disease occurs when your dog’s adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. Heavy, unnatural panting occurs in dogs with this disease.
Other symptoms include increased thirst and hunger, hair loss, and a pot-bellied appearance.
Laryngeal Paralysis also more commonly known as Lar Par, is a condition in which the cartilage flaps that protect your dog’s upper airway fail to open and close.
This causes obstruction of your dog’s airway as he breathes.
Golden Retrievers are among the few breeds that are predisposed to this condition, along with Labs, German Shepherds, Newfoundlands, and Greyhounds.
Middle-aged and older dogs are commonly affected.
An increase in panting or loud breathing is usually the first sign of this condition.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Change in bark sound (sounds like your dog has laryngitis).
- Coughing after exercise.
- Coughing when eating or drinking.
- Exercise intolerance or lethargy.
- Respiratory distress (in severe cases).
- Collapse (in severe cases).
- Heatstroke (in severe cases).
If you suspect that your Golden Retriever has Lar Par, it is best to visit your veterinarian to get a diagnosis.
Bloat is a serious medical emergency that causes your dog’s stomach to distend and twist, cutting off the blood supply, and filling it with air.
Bloat is extremely painful for your dog, and can cause death in a matter of hours if left untreated.
Signs to watch out for include:
- Swollen, hard belly.
- Painful abdomen when touched.
- Heaving, but unable to vomit.
Any dog can suffer from bloat, but it is more common in deep-chested breeds such as Labradors, German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Saint Bernards.
Older dogs and dogs that are overweight are at a greater risk of bloat as well.
The cause of bloat is not really known, but, eating too fast, especially only one meal a day is considered a risk factor.
You can prevent bloat in your dog by:
- Spreading meals throughout the day.
- Use a slow feeder bowl.
- Avoid strenuous exercise after meals.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid high-fat food.
Heart Disease & Heart Conditions
Heart disease and heart conditions cause your Golden Retriever to pant more than normal.
The heart is the most essential organ in your dog’s body. It pumps blood that contains oxygen and nutrients throughout the rest of your dog’s body.
When your Golden Retriever has a heart condition, the blood doesn’t pump effectively, and oxygen is unable to circulate through the body.
This causes your Golden Retriever to pant as he is trying to get more oxygen into his body.
As heart disease progresses, fluid builds up in the abdomen and lungs.
Panting becomes heavier and your Golden will have shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
Older dogs and overweight dogs are more at risk for developing heart disease. Heartworm can also cause heart disease.
The warning signs of cancer often go unnoticed as they are so subtle. But, cancer can affect your dog’s breathing, causing him to pant more.
Lung cancer especially will cause coughing and difficulty breathing.
However, other types of cancers can spread to the lungs which will cause your Golden to pant more and have trouble breathing.
Certain cancers can cause fluid buildup in or around the lungs as well, which will cause an increase in your dog’s respiratory rate.
Heavy panting is also a result of the pain and discomfort that cancer causes, especially pain in the abdomen.
Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers have one of the highest rates of cancer. Catching this disease early on will improve your dog’s outcome.
7. Older Golden Retrievers Pant More
As your Golden Retriever gets older you may notice that he is panting more than usual.
Old age brings about many ailments, as well as a decrease in stamina.
Senior Goldens tend to get overheated a lot faster, which means they will pant more in order to regulate their body temperature.
Sore joints and arthritis make it difficult for your Golden Retriever to move around, causing your Golden Retriever to pant more because of pain and discomfort.
Older Golden Retrievers also tend to suffer from vision loss, and hearing loss, which may cause fear and anxiety, causing them to pant more than normal.
If your Golden Retriever pants more at night, it could be due to his loss of senses (vision & hearing), and an increase in anxiety.
This short video discusses the reasons why your senior dog is panting more at night:
While an increase in panting is normal as your Golden Retriever ages, it is important to pay close attention to any heavy panting.
Older Goldens are more at risk for the health issues that we discussed above, and panting is typically the first sign of discomfort.
8. Your Golden Retriever Ingested Something Toxic
Abnormal panting in your Golden Retriever could be due to him ingesting something toxic or having an allergic reaction.
Along with panting you may notice drooling, vomiting, or lethargy.
You may also notice your dog’s gums turning pale white or blue. This is a sign that your dog is not getting enough oxygen.
Any signs of your dog having trouble breathing should be treated as an emergency and you should seek veterinary care immediately.
9. Females Pant More During Pregnancy
If your female Golden Retriever is in heat you may notice more panting.
High estrogen levels during a heat cycle cause your female to become overheated easier, resulting in more panting.
Females who are pregnant also pant more for several reasons. They could be warm, anxious, in pain, or have eclampsia (low blood calcium), or other underlying health conditions such as heart or lung disease.
Heavy panting can also indicate that your female is about to give birth, or there are problems with the pregnancy.
If you notice any signs of distress or the panting is excessive, seek veterinary care immediately.
Heatstroke occurs when your dog’s body temperature gets too high, and they can’t effectively cool themselves down.
Fast, heavy breathing or panting is the most recognizable sign that your dog is suffering from heatstroke, especially during hot summer temperatures.
Other signs to watch out for include:
- Bright red gums
- Dry or sticky gums
- Excessive drooling
- Lethargic or disoriented
Golden Retrievers are at a greater risk for heatstroke because of their large size and their thick long fur.
If you suspect heatstroke in your dog, you need to act quickly to cool them down and seek veterinary attention immediately.
Heatstroke can be fatal!
How Do You Tell The Difference Between Normal And Abnormal Panting?
Normal panting occurs when your Golden Retriever is hot, after exercise, or when he is excited.
Heavy and excessive panting is different and considered abnormal, and you will recognize abnormal panting as follows:
- It happens at odd times, even when your Golden Retriever is resting or cool.
- Panting sounds loud, abrasive or harsher than normal.
- Panting is excessive.
- Your dog shows other symptoms.
- Your dog is lethargic or unresponsive.
- Your dog’s gums are pale white, blue or purple.
Abnormal panting in your Golden Retriever should never be ignored, as it could indicate a health issue or medical emergency.
Always consult your vet when you suspect your Golden is panting more than normal.
How To Help Your Golden Retriever Stop Panting So Much?
There are various ways that you can help your Golden Retriever stop panting so much, such as:
Don’t Exercise Your Dog When It’s Hot Outside
If the temperature is too hot outside, it is best to avoid exercising your Golden. Remember, your dog wears a fur coat, and easily gets overheated.
It is best to stay indoors, or walk early in the morning or late at night when it’s cooler out than risk your dog getting heatstroke.
Never Leave Your Dog In A Hot Car!
I would hope this is common sense, but every year there are numerous horror stories of owners leaving their dogs in vehicles when it’s hot outside!
It takes just a few minutes for the temperature of your car to reach dangerous levels, and threaten your dog’s life, even in mild weather!
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), it takes just 10 minutes for the inside of your car to climb 20 degrees Fahrenheit. That means in just one hour, the inside of your vehicle is 40 degrees hotter than outside!
Keep Your Golden Retriever Cool & Hydrated
Golden Retrievers prefer cooler temperatures, which is why many of them love winter!
When it gets hot outside or too hot inside, they become uncomfortable, which leads to excessive panting!
Keep them cool by always having fresh cool water to drink, and keep them indoors in the air conditioning, or near a fan during hot days.
Calm Your Golden Retriever
If panting in your Golden Retriever is caused by stress or anxiety, you’ll need to determine the cause.
There are certain supplements, as well as natural solutions to help ease your dog’s anxiety.
Oftentimes, just talking calmly and petting your dog is a great help.
In some cases, your vet may be able to prescribe anxiety medication.
Help Your Golden Retriever Lose Weight
Being overweight causes your Golden Retriever to pant more. You can help reduce your Golden’s panting by helping them shed a few pounds.
Always consult your vet on the best approach to your dog’s diet.
Losing weight should be done gradually, by reducing the amount of food given, and increasing your dog’s exercise.
Schedule A Vet Visit
If your Golden Retriever won’t stop panting, it is best to consult your vet.
Your vet will be able to determine whether your Golden’s panting is caused by an underlying health issue.
If you suspect any abnormal panting, never hesitate to see your vet. The quicker you act, the better the outcome for your dog.
While it may seem like your Golden Retriever is panting a lot while he is hot, after exercising, or from excitement, this type of panting is short-term and completely normal.
However, if you notice your Golden Retriever is panting a lot even when he is resting or it’s not hot outside, it is a cause for concern.
You should never ignore your dog’s panting behaviour, as it could indicate an underlying health issue.
Does your Golden Retriever pant a lot?
Share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you!
I am the proud owner of a Golden Retriever named Ellie. She keeps me busy, and when she is resting, you can find me working on my blog. She is always close by though. I live in Stirling, ON Canada with my husband, and we both enjoy the never a dull moment life with our Ellie.
4 thoughts on “Why Does My Golden Retriever Pant So Much? [10 Reasons Revealed!]”
I have found that Golden Retrievers love to romp and play as part of their daily routine. If they aren’t wanting to romp as much and are quickly out of breath and panting, that should be a sign that there may be something wrong. If you live in warmer climates, as I do, then it is a good idea to have a wading pool filled with water to help them cool down after exerting themselves.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Having a wading pool or a kiddie pool for them to cool off in is a great idea, and these dogs certainly love the water!
I have an 11-month Golden. He is very active and hyper. He pants all the time but I’m not sure if it’s from excitement, him being hyper, or anxiety. I’m just worried that it’s something related to his trachea or anything like that. He will sometimes drink water and choke or cough.
Panting in your Golden Retriever can be due to many things, as you mentioned, it could be from excitement, hyperactivity – playing hard, or it could be anxiety. I’m not sure where you live, but when the weather gets warm outside, it causes Golden Retrievers to pant way more than normal. Keep in mind that most, if not all Golden Retrievers prefer cooler climates, so when the temperature gets warm, they start to become uncomfortable.
You mentioned that your pup also drinks water and coughs or chokes afterward. This could be due to drinking too much water too fast, again it could come from excitement. You could try using a slow-feeder bowl as a water dish for your pup to try to slow down his drinking. I would also recommend that you consult with your vet, just to rule out any medical issues, and your vet might have more suggestions for you.
I hope you get it sorted out. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment, and I wish you and your pup all the best!