If your Australian shepherd is panting with no signs of it slowing down, it can be very worrying. While most of the time heavy panting is normal, there are a few important things every owner should know.
This article explains everything owners must know about their Aussie’s breathing habits.
Trying to cool down explains most heavy panting seen in Australian shepherds. Aside from this, heavy panting could be caused by stress, anxiety, playing, unfamiliar events or situations, or health issues.
Australian Shepherds & Heavy Panting
Panting is the normal response when dogs become too hot. Panting is one of the primary ways in which all dogs cool down.
There are also many other “normal” situations that could cause your Australian shepherd to pant. These include:
- After playing or exercising
- Travelling in a car
- Meeting new people
- Interacting with other dogs
- Getting excited
- In response to unfamiliar sounds, events, or getting spooked for any reason
There are many times when panting is normal and nothing to be worried about.
When you see your Aussie panting, try to remember the list above… Have they just been for a ride in the car? met other dogs?
Consider the recent events and you may find a reasonable cause for heavy panting.
When To Be Concerned About Heavy Panting
As there are many situations when panting is normal, how do you know if panting is a sign of something worse?…
Knowing when panting is out of place is all about the situation and recent events building up to it.
- If it’s a cool day with low temperatures and nothing in particular has happened, your Australian shepherd should not be panting excessively.
1. Stress or anxiety
Aussies can become extremely stressed and anxious by a variety of things.
Anything from a change in routine, a lack of exercise, boredom, environmental changes, or even moving houses can cause excess stress.
Considering that many things can bring on stress in our dogs, it’s important to consider recent events and changes to your Aussie’s routine or life.
Panting when there’s no good reason to could be a sign that they’re overly stressed.
2. Dehydration or heatstroke
In the heart of summer it’s easy for your Australian shepherd to become dehydrated or worse, suffer from heatstroke.
In addition to heavy quick panting, you’ll be able to see other signs including:
- Bright red tongue
- Sticky saliva
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Lack of coordination
- Difficult moving
- Head shaking
It’s known that our dogs don’t drink as much as they should so it’s crucial we encourage more drinking.
This can be done by placing more water bowls around the home, and keeping it topped up with fresh water. (yep, dogs will be more inclined to drink from their bowl if it’s full up!)
Dehydration causes less severe symptoms than heatstroke. If you see your Aussie to be disorientated, unable to get up, or seizuring, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Related article: Keeping Australian shepherds cool in summer
3. Allergies or health issues
In the worse case, your Australian shepherd may be panting due to allergies or health issues.
Particular health issues like Cushing’s disease, heart disease, or pulmonary disease cause dogs to pant excessively.
Granted, it’s rare for this to be the case with your Aussie, assuming they are otherwise active, energetic, and healthy.
However, considering the severity of these health issues it’s important to speak to a vet if your Aussie is panting excessively without good reason.
This also highlights the importance of routine checkups! Health check-ups every SIX months is always advised!
When Is Panting Considered Excessive?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as counting their pants. There’s no set number that means panting is either normal or excessive.
The best advice is to always consider the recent events leading up to the excessive panting.
If it can be justified, then panting likely isn’t anything to worry about…
If the panting is completely unwarranted and out of place then it can be considered excessive. In this case, it’s then necessary to speak with your veterinarian.
Always analyze the situation and consider whether the panting can be justified. Be sure to check the list above for all of the “normal” situations where heavy panting may happen.
Reacting To Heavy Panting
If you spot your Aussie panting excessively for no good reason then the very best thing to do is call a veterinarian asap.
They’ll ask you to explain the situation and recent events and give you actionable advice in the moment.
If your Aussie is showing serious symptoms like disorientation, head shaking, seizures or unable to move then the vet will ask you to bring your Aussie to them as soon as possible.
Remember: If it’s a hot summer day, try to keep your Aussie in the shade and always provide them access to a cool air-conditioned room. Always have multiple water bowls topped up with fresh water.
In other moments, always try to reduce the stress that your Aussie is feeling. A stressed Aussie can be calmed down by talking to them, reassuring them, and reducing distractions and noise.
Always avoid situations that will cause your Australian shepherd stress or anxiety.