Is panting in dogs normal after surgery?

April 13, 2012

Mouth open and tongue lolling, the dog takes rapid short and loud sounding breaths. The dog’s shallow breathing is known as panting. Panting is a completely natural behavior of dogs. The frantic breathing is the dog’s way of cooling itself. Unlike humans that can take off the jacket when the temperature gets warm dogs will be forever wearing their fur coats. Dogs have to find a way to adjust their body temperature especially because man’s best friends have a rather poor cooling system. Contrary to the common belief that dogs don’t sweat, these animals actually do sweat. But as dogs sweat mainly on the base of their feet, sweating as an effort to cool the body would not be very effective especially if the dog is running on hot pavement.

Aside from the effort of adjusting the body temperature, a dog’s can be due to other reasons. A dog would pant when it is excited. A strenuous exercise would make the dog pant as well. Dogs are pampered pets. The animals that were once the denizens of the wild, of barns or outdoor doggie houses are now accommodated in temperature controlled homes. A perfectly normal dog would have no reason to pant if it is simply lounging in air conditioned rooms. Aside from beating the heat, a dog would pant if it is stressed, nervous or in pain. Panting that occurs because of these reasons must never be ignored.

A dog owner would take care of the pet as if it were a baby. Aside from providing the pet with prime quality and nutrient-rich food, dog owners ensure that the pet would have regular veterinary checkups. Unfortunately, the healthy diet, the vaccinations and regular checkups, the hygienic environment cannot totally prevent illnesses. Dogs are very energetic animals thus short of keeping the pet under lock and key, it would be impossible to prevent accidents. For various reasons, a dog may need to be taken to a veterinary facility for a surgical procedure.

A dog may not be able to tell the pet parent that it is ailing. A dog certainly cannot tell the owner that it is in pain. It is the responsibility of a dog owner to discern any unusual behavior of the pet. As mentioned, panting is natural behavior of dogs. However, if the panting dog is not hot and has not done a strenuous activity, it is highly probable that the pet is in pain especially if the dog has undergone a surgical procedure. Similar to humans, surgery would be a stressful experience for a dog. The stress would cause the dog’s system to release adrenalin causing abnormal body functions. Heart and lung activities will increase. Adrenalin will cause the elevation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels. After the anesthesia wears off, the dog is expected to be in pain. These conditions will cause the dog to shake and to pant. This is why after surgery, dogs are given pain medications. Panting can be the dog’s way of ridding the body of residual anesthesia. After the surgical procedure the stressed dog’s panting is expected to be more than normal.

Excessive panting, on the other hand, can be an indication of severe pain or too much stress. Normal panting is characterized by limply hanging tongue. A dog owner should take note of the tongue of the dog. A tongue that is somewhat cupped is a sign that the panting is associated with stress, pain or anxiety. The dog would need immediate veterinary attention as excessive panting is an indication that the dog cannot regulate body temperature. After surgery, a dog may be unable to have a bowel movement. This condition can be caused by anesthesia that slows down the dog’s system. The inability to defecate is another reason why the dog pants.

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