Panting in Golden Retrievers: What Is Normal And What Isn’t

by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

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Why is my Golden Retriever panting?

Is your Golden Retriever panting more than they usually do?  They may have just come in from outside where it was hot.  Now that they are in the air conditioning, they are panting and trying to cool off.  Panting is a normal thing for your Golden Retriever to do to help them cool off. There may be other health reasons that your Golden Retriever would be panting. 

If your Golden Retriever is panting and has not been outside, there may be an underlying medical reason that your Golden Retriever would be panting.  If you suddenly notice your Golden Retriever is panting a lot more than they normally do, it would be best to call your vet and have your Golden Retriever examined.

Why is my Golden Retriever Panting?

  • They are cooling off
  • They have anxiety
  • They have developed Bloat
  • They have a heart disease
  • They are obese
  • They have Cushing’s Disease
  • They are in pain
  • They have a respiratory Issue
  • They have Cancer

Many of these issues can quickly be treated, while other issues may need your vet to help treat your dog.  Once you have figured out the cause of panting in your Golden Retriever, you can start helping your Golden Retriever stop panting

Why is my Golden Retriever panting?

There are a few different reasons that your Golden Retriever may be panting. It is common for Golden Retrievers to pant when they are very excited or gotten very hot.  These are normal reasons that your Golden Retriever may be panting a lot, but there could be an underlying medical issue causing your dog to pant. These are the most common reasons that your pet may be panting.


Cooling mechanism

Panting is a cooling mechanism for your Golden Retriever.  Dogs do not sweat like people.  This is how your Golden Retriever gets rid of any unneeded heat.  When your Golden Retriever is panting, they take oxygen into their lungs and bloodstream. 

This is used to cool your Golden Retriever off.  If your Golden Retriever does not have a way to cool themselves, this excessive heat can lead to heatstroke.  If your Golden Retriever is panting because they are overheating, make sure to get them cooled off very quickly, as heatstroke can be deadly. 

Anxiety

Some Golden Retrievers will pant when they are suffering from anxiety.  Golden Retrievers will have anxiety from loud noises like sirens, parties, thunderstorms, or fireworks.  Sometimes anxiety can also be caused by separation anxiety when not around their favorite people. 

Signs of anxiety are discomfort couple with pacing, licking, and chewing.  If your dog is suffering from anxiety, there are many things that you can do to help them.  Give them a safe, quiet place to stay during these loud times.  Also, you can help calm your dog with CBD products.  These come in treats, oil tinctures, or capsules.  Many dogs love the tasty CBD treats and will greatly reduce their anxiety.

Bloat

Bloat is a medical condition seen in deep-chested dogs that are also known as gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV).  This is a life-threatening disease that causes your Golden Retriever’s abdomen to become distention.  This disease can be associated with vomiting, salivating, biting at their sides, and pacing. 

This can be caused by your dog eating too fast or exercising right after they are eating.  This disease requires you to take your dog to their vet immediately for intervention.  Your vet will usually have to do surgery to decrease your dog’s bloated stomach and untwist its stomach.  Without surgery, your Golden Retriever may not survive.

Heart disease

Heart disease can cause your Golden Retriever to pant.  Their heart is needed to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. When your Golden Retriever’s heart is not functioning properly, they will not get enough oxygen to the rest of their body.  If this happens, your dog will pant because they are trying to get more oxygen into their body. 

As heart diseases progress, fluid can build up in your Golden Retriever’s abdomen and lungs.  This will also make it harder for your Golden Retriever to breathe and get oxygen throughout their body.  You will also notice that they are panting more as a sign that their heart disease has gotten worse.  If you notice issues with your Golden Retriever, it is best to see your veterinarian immediately, as sometimes these issues can become life-threatening. 

Obesity

If your Golden Retriever is overweight or obese, they will also pant more.  If your dog is overweight, they will have extra layers of fat that act as a layer of insulation and will keep them warm.  During the summer months, you may notice that overweight dogs will pant even more. 

Also, this extra weight that your Golden Retriever has is more painful on their joints.  When your Golden Retriever is painful, they will also pant more often. To help your overweight Golden Retriever lose weight, start by decreasing the amount of food that you are feeding them by about 25 percent. 

Cushing’s disease in Golden Retrievers

Cushing’s disease is a disease affecting your dog’s adrenal gland causing them to produce too much cortisol.  This overproduction of cortisol causes you’re your Golden Retriever to want to pant more.  If you think that your dog may have Cushing’s disease, there is a quick blood test that your veterinarian can run to see if they do have Cushing’s disease.

If they do have Cushing’s disease, this can easily be treated with medication that you would give your dog every day.  Once they are on the appropriate medication, you can easily fix the weight gain and panting with diet and exercise.

Pain

If your dog is hurting and in pain, they will pant more.  Sometimes this is the first sign that you will see showing that they are painful. Other signs of pain in your Golden Retriever are limping, restlessness and decreased appetite.  Some Golden Retrievers will even hide their pain and will act normal. 

Respiratory issues

Golden Retrievers who have respiratory issues will pant more.  If your dog has any disease, such as pneumonia, they will not breathe as easily.  This will cause them not to get adequate amounts of oxygen to their body.  This will result in your Golden Retriever panting more in order to take in more oxygen for their body.  Pneumonia is a very serious problem in dogs that, if not treated, can cause perinate damage and even death.

Other diseases of your dog’s lungs can cause them to pant.  Thing such as masses in their lungs will cause your dog to pant.  As your Golden Retriever gets older, they can develop cancerous growths. These growths are inside your dog’s chest.  Masses in your Golden Retriever’s lungs will cause problems with their lungs fully expanding, leading your dog to pant more. 

If your Golden Retriever is panting, it is best to have your vet check your dog for any respiratory problems.  Your vet will want to take x-rays to see what is going on in the lungs.  This helps them assess the heart and lungs and helps you figure out why your Golden Retriever is panting.

Cancer

Golden Retrievers are known for developing cancer.  Most cancers will spread to your dog’s lungs, causing them to have issues breathing and possibly even pant.  If your dog has a large mass growing in its abdomen, this can also put pressure on other organs in your dog’s body and cause a little pain.  This will also cause your dog to pant. 

Many masses can be removed, and your Golden Retriever can undergo chemotherapy and radiation to help treat their cancer. This can help them breathe much better and not pant as much. 

How to help my Golden Retriever that is Panting excessively

Once you have figured out what is causing your Golden Retriever to pant, you can easily help get them to stop panting.  These are some things that you can do to help decrease your Golden Retriever with panting.

Cool them off

If your Golden Retriever was just outside playing on a hot summer day, bringing them inside in the air condition and giving them cool water will help cool them off.  Place them in front of a fan, and even spraying them with water will help them quickly cool off. 

If your Golden Retriever does not start to cool off pretty quickly after you bring them inside, they may need to see your vet.  Your vet can give your dog IV fluids to help them cool down.  Without treatment, heatstroke can lead to death in some dogs.

golden retriever panting
Two golden retriever dogs

Put a fan in front of them

Sometimes your dog is just hot even if they have not been outside.  Golden Retrievers that have longer fur may need to be kept in a cooler environment.  If your Golden Retriever is panting a lot, put a fan in front of them to help them cool off. 

Try to calm them down

If your dog is very anxious, try to get them to calm down.  Many times just sitting and petting them can help keep them calm.  If your dog suffers from anxiety, there are many supplements that you can give them to help keep them calm.  

Talk to your vet about natural ways to help with anxiety.  If that does not work, there are medications that your vet can prescribe for your dog to take for anxiety.

Make them lose weight

If your Golden Retriever is overweight, one easy way for them to stop panting is to help them lose weight.  Decreasing the amount that you are feeding them by 10% and increase the time that they spend exercising each day will help them lose weight.

See your vet

If your Golden Retriever continues to pant, it would be best for your vet to see your Golden Retriever. They can make sure that there are not any medical issues causing your Golden Retriever to pant. They can run bloodwork and take x rays to make sure that your Golden Retriever is healthy. 

Final Thoughts

Golden Retrievers who are panting more could just be trying to cool off, but there may be an underlying medical issue that you need to have checked out by your vet.  If your Golden Retriever does not stop panting after you get them to a cool area and get them to calm down, it is best for your vet to see them right away.

Some of these conditions are life-threatening if not treated.  The quicker you start treatment on your Golden Retriever, the better the outcome, and the faster your dog gets back to their normal life.

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