Why Does My Golden Retriever Pant So Much?

Panting is normal behaviour for Golden Retrievers, one that might be seen more often depending on the cause or situation. One of the most common and widely known reasons for panting is to help them cool down and regulate their body temperature.

There are plenty of other reasons why Golden Retrievers might pant – it could be out of excitement, due to a medical issue, or because of fear. 

Read on to find out more causes for panting, what to do if your Golden Retriever is excessively panting, and more.

Common Causes of Panting in Golden Retrievers

There are a bunch of reasons why your Golden Retriever might be panting. Some of the direct reasons are perfectly normal and you don’t need to do anything about it. However, if the cause is more severe, you might need to make an appointment with the vet.

Golden Retrievers might pant:

  • To regulate their temperature when it’s hot: Their long, double-coat makes them heat up fast when the sun is shining. One of the ways they cool down is by panting. You can also provide a shaded area, put ice cubes in their water, and give them frozen chew toys to help keep your Goldie cool. They only sweat through their paws so it’s difficult for them to regulate their body temperature.
  • After exercise: After physical activity or exercise, a natural response as they catch their breath is to pant. Letting them rest and providing water for hydration can aid them to cool down and breathe normally.
  • Out of excitement: It doesn’t take much to make a Golden Retriever excited. Food, the prospect of a walk, or a visitor can have your Goldie panting in seconds. Excitement increases their heart rate and therefore their need for oxygen. Panting is how they get the extra oxygen that they need.
  • If they’re thirsty: A Golden Retriever who’s dehydrated might pant heavily. If they’re not helped, the dehydration could develop into heatstroke. Always keep their bowls full with cool, clean drinking water.

When Golden Retriever Panting Becomes a Problem

In certain situations, panting can be caused by something more worrying. 

Areas where panting might be caused by a serious issue:

  • Heatstroke: Panting can be a sign that your Goldie has over-heated and is suffering from heatstroke. You’d also see drooling, red gums, vomiting, diarrhoea, and they might also collapse.
  • Allergic reaction: Eating or interacting with an allergen will likely cause an allergic reaction. As well as panting, you might see swelling, vomiting, and changes in their behaviour. If you spot an allergic reaction, take your Goldie to a vet right away. 
  • Fear and anxiety: Panting can be a sign of extreme anxiety. This could be in the car, at the vet, if a firework goes off, or any event that creates fear. Try to identify the source and calm your Golden Retriever if this happens.
  • Illness or injury: Pain caused by being unwell or hurt can cause extreme panting. If it’s accompanied by lethargy, pale eyes, and vomiting then seek vet treatment ASAP. 
  • Side effects from medication: Certain medications have side effects such as panting. If you think something your Goldie takes is causing this, have a chat to the vet to see if you can change the medication.
  • Heart condition: Panting while resting could be a sign of an underlying heart problem. A vet would need to run some tests to officially diagnose this, and then will be able to discuss treatment with you.
  • Separation anxiety: If your Goldie is panting when you’re preparing to leave them home alone, they could be suffering from separation anxiety. You might also notice destructive behaviour or signs of depression.

If your Golden Retriever is panting at unusual times, panting constantly, or seems to be in pain, then it’s always worth making an appointment at the vet to have a check over. 

When Is Panting Considered Abnormal?

If your Golden Retriever is panting for with no clear cause (like if it’s not a hot day or you don’t have visitors or other pets around) then something isn’t quite right. It could be illness, injury, a behavioural problem, or something else entirely.

Your Golden Retriever could have Kennel Cough, Cushing Disease, or an intolerance to something. Remember – when in doubt, ask a professional vet for help.

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then your Goldie’s panting might be abnormal:

  • Are they panting constantly, without stopping?
  • Is their breathing laboured? This would count as an emergency if so.
  • Have you looked around and there’s no obvious trigger for the panting?
  • Are there any other symptoms? Vomiting, limping, lack of energy, and acting out of character are examples of common symptoms.
  • Do your Goldie’s gums and tongue appear blue, purple, or white? This would also count as an emergency.
  • Are they coughing too?

On average, Golden Retrievers should breathe between 15 and 50 times per minute. Anything over 50 would count as out of the ordinary and warrant a trip to the vet.

What to Do if Your Golden Retriever Is Excessively Panting

If you’ve noticed that your Golden Retriever is panting a lot more than normal, there are a few tricks you can try to help them:

  • Try to determine why they’re panting – look for an obvious reason that you can remedy.
  • Make sure they have plenty of cool water. You can even put ice cubes in it if it’s extra hot.
  • Have them lie in a patch of shade. If it’s mid-day, try making a space where they’ll be out of direct sunlight.
  • Give them a cool bath.
  • Try switching their food or taking them to a new environment.
  • Comfort and cuddle your Golden Retriever in case they’re anxious.
  • Try walking them at night-time. In hot weather, it’ll be far cooler in the evening and night-time for you to take your Goldie for a walk.
  • Aim a fan at your Golden Retriever. A little bit of a breeze could help remove some excess heat.
  • Leave a blanket that smells of you or a cuddly toy that might comfort them in your absence.
  • Brush and de-shed your Goldie to get rid of loose, dead fur from their undercoat.

Another thing you can do is to make a vet appointment. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and get a check-up. Worst case, the vet can identify a problem and arrange a solution. Or there might be no clear problem, but at least you have peace of mind.

What Not to Do if Your Golden Retriever Is Excessively Panting

If your Golden Retriever is panting, there are a few things you can do which might actually be more harmful than good.

Don’t try to force your Golden Retriever to stop panting. Using a muzzle or shouting at them will likely just stress them out more. 

Don’t take them for a walk when they’re already panting. Physical exertion (especially during the daytime when it’s warmer) will make them hotter and lead to even more panting.

Don’t be tempted to shave their fur. This will lead to further problems like skin infections, sunburn, and bites. Their skin is sensitive so having the fur is a protective layer that they shouldn’t be forced to do without.

Try to be understanding and act as a source of comfort to your Golden Retriever. They won’t be able to control their panting, so being kind will make them feel at ease and perhaps help them overcome the panting faster. 

Related Questions

Why Does My Golden Retriever Pant More Than Other Dogs?

If your Golden Retriever is around other pets, you might notice that your Goldie is panting considerably more. This is often related to the size of the dog – bigger breeds do typically pant more. And Goldie’s are especially excitable so it could be as simple a reason as that. Another reason could be if they’re anxious around other dogs.

Is There Anything I Can Buy to Help With My Golden Retriever’s Panting in the Summer? 

In the hotter months, you can pick up chew toys that go in the freezer, doggy paddling pools, or a fan to help keep your Golden Retriever cool. However, you can also DIY a remedy at home to keep your Goldie cool. 

Using blankets or furniture, make a shaded spot where your Golden Retriever can cool down. Putting ice cubes in their water can also help with refreshment and hydration.

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