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PANTING

If your pet is panting, make sure you can easily determine the cause.

Dogs are known to pant more often than cats, but cats do occasionally huff and puff when hot or after strenuous activity.

Some cats will also pant when they're nervous - during the dubious car ride to the groomer, or if there's a booming thunderstorm outside. But if your pet pants for no obvious reason, you should be concerned.

Causes

Aside from anxiety and high temperatures, many medical conditions, such as heatstroke or fever from infection, can cause heavy panting. Some health problems reduce your pet's ability to take in enough oxygen or deliver it to the tissues, including anemia, heart disease, respiratory disease, and abdominal enlargement. Pets also pant when they're in pain. Common causes include traumatic injury and gastrointestinal disorders - such as obstruction.

Other conditions that may cause panting include:
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney failure
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Poisoning
What You Can Do at Home

A cool place to lie down and a drink of water will help your pet beat the heat. On hot days, keep your pet indoors. Obesity taxes many of your pet's body systems, and pudgy pets may pant more easily. Help your pet maintain a healthy weight by feeding him the right amount of high-quality food and encourage exercise.

If your pet feels feverish, you can take his temperature with a rectal thermometer. Hold your pet tightly against your chest, coat the metal tip with petroleum or other lubricating jelly, and insert it slowly into the rectum about one inch. After two minutes, remove and read the thermometer. A normal temperature falls between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

When to Call the Veterinarian

Make an appointment with the veterinarian if you suspect your pet is in pain or if he exhibits other symptoms, such as fever, appetite loss, lethargy, or vomiting.

Seek immediate medical care if your pet exhibits difficulty breathing or symptoms of heatstroke (weakness, panting, and a temperature above 104 degrees F) or if you suspect poisoning.

If your pet is suffering from heatstroke, try to lower his body temperature by covering him with wet towels. Place him in his carrier and take him to your nearest veterinary hospital.