Panting is normal behaviour that is expected of all dogs, but have you ever stopped to wonder why it happens. Or perhaps you’re wondering why your Alaskan Malamute pants so much, even when there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason.
In our article, we take a look at the causes of panting in Alaskan Malamutes and outline when panting is normal or when it’s a cause for concern.
WHAT CAUSES PANTING IN ALASKAN MALAMUTES
Before we take an in-depth look at what is considered normal and abnormal for panting in Alaskan Malamutes, let’s look at the reasons that a Malamute might be panting in the first place.
- To cool off – The most common reason that any dog pants is to cool themselves down. Alaskan Malamutes are a breed that can get hot very quickly thanks to their thick coats that are suited to arctic temperatures. As a result, they might pant more often than other dog breeds – especially during warm weather.
- Because they are thirsty – Interestingly, dogs will sometimes pant when they are thirsty. Panting actually dehydrates a dog (very counterintuitive!) so it’s vital that your Alaskan Malamute has access to drinking water at all times.
- They are having a strong emotional response – One of the ways that Alaskan Malamutes express their emotions is by panting. You might see them panting when they are excited, stressed, or fearful.
- There is a health issue – Unfortunately, panting can also indicate a health issue. Excessive panting or panting that doesn’t have a clear cause should not be ignored, take your Alaskan Malamute to a vet as soon as possible.
- They are overweight – Alaskan Malamutes are prone to obesity thanks to their greedy appetites. Becoming overweight can affect their fitness as their body is put under more strain. You might find that they pant heavier than they used to, or that they start panting after very little exercise. Read our guide on obesity in Alaskan Malamutes by clicking here for tips on how to get them back to a healthy weight.
Keep reading for more information on how to determine the cause of your Alaskan Malamute’s panting, and whether it’s normal or not.
TIMES WHEN PANTING IS NORMAL
Sometimes, it’s completely normal for an Alaskan Malamute to pant heavily. In these cases, panting should not be discouraged – they are doing it as a natural response to benefit their health. Once you’ve identified the cause, however, you will usually be able to help your Malamute feel more comfortable, which may decrease or stop their panting.
Take a look at some of the most common, and completely normal reasons your Alaskan Malamute might be panting so much.
Your Malamute is panting after exercise.
Alaskan Malamutes are a breed that loves to exercise. Their working history has given them a reputation for having immense stamina, and you’ll often find that a Malamute will accompany you for miles on long hikes.
Despite having a love for exercise, they still get tired and will usually pant once they are back at home. Panting is a natural response after exercise and allows a Malamute to increase the oxygen they take in, making recovery much easier.
Not only this, but a Malamute is likely to get warm whilst they are exercising and panting allows them to cool off quicker. Keep reading for more information on why this is!
Your Malamute is panting because they are warm.
One of the most likely reasons your Alaskan Malamute is panting so much is because they are too warm. Malamutes have thick double coats that are suited to arctic temperatures. Whilst these coats do help to keep them cool to an extent, Malamutes can still get very warm in temperatures that most other dogs would feel fine in.
Dogs can’t sweat in the same way that humans can and instead rely on panting to help cool them off. If you notice that your Malamute is panting, check whether the temperature of the room they are in (or of the outdoors) is higher than usual.
You can help to cool them down by taking them to a cooler, shaded area and providing them with plenty of water to drink. Click here to read our full guide on how to cool a Malamute down!
You Malamute is panting because they are excited.
Many owners don’t notice until it has been pointed out to them, but Alaskan Malamutes often pant when they are excited.
You’re most likely to see this when your Malamute is anticipating a walk. One of our Malamutes runs to the door and starts panting as soon as they hear us pick up their leash. The excitement causes them to get adrenaline and their heart rates will increase slightly, much like how we react when we feel excited. This increased heart rate will cause a Malamute to pant.
Take note of random times throughout the day when your Malamute is panting and see if they are associated with activities that they enjoy. Common times when we notice panting are when we are preparing their food, when we come home after being away from them, or when we wake up and see them in the morning for the first time.
Your Malamute is panting because they are scared.
This is very similar to the previous point. If your Alaskan Malamute is scared, they may start to pant.
Dogs react very similar to humans when they experience strong emotions. Fear will cause a dog to become stressed, which will cause adrenaline to be released into its system. This adrenaline will have an effect on its body which, in the wild, would have helped it to survive dangerous situations.
One of the effects of adrenaline is an increased heart rate, which will cause a Malamute to pant so that they can take in more oxygen. If your Malamute is panting for no clear reason, check whether there is anything that could be scaring them.
Things that cause some of our Malamutes to become scared include fireworks, thunderstorms, or being in unfamiliar surroundings. Try and see the world from their perspective to determine whether fear could be the cause of their frequent panting.
TIMES WHEN PANTING IS ABNORMAL
So, now we know when panting is normal and can be expected of our Malamutes, let’s take a look at some of the times when panting might be an indication that something is wrong.
Your Malamute is panting and also not acting as normal.
If your Alaskan Malamute is panting and they are also not acting like themselves, this could be a sign of a health issue. Behaviours to look out for include lethargy, lack of interest in exercise, not wanting to eat or drink, and not responding to your voice.
Some cardiac and respiratory health issues can cause excessive panting but they usually have other symptoms that will be present too, such as those mentioned above. You must take your Alaskan Malamute to a vet immediately to find the cause and stabilise their condition.
Your Malamute is panting intensely.
If your Alaskan Malamute pants very intensely, even during ‘normal’ circumstances, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
We often see intense panting in Malamutes who are overweight. Their respiratory and cardiac systems have to work extra hard to sustain them and may cause them to pant heavier than an Alaskan Malamute who is a healthy weight. Malamutes who have asthma may also pant heavier or irregularly.
Even if this heavy panting occurs during situations where panting is expected, it can be much more uncomfortable for your Alaskan Malamute. Signs of discomfort include chesty noises during panting and being unwilling to move until they have calmed down. We recommend taking your Malamute to be examined by a vet to ensure this excessive panting is not caused by an underlying health issue.
Your Malamute is panting with no obvious reason why.
Finally, if your Alaskan Malamute is panting when they aren’t too hot, haven’t been recently active, and aren’t having a strong emotional response, it’s time to take them to get checked out.
Although many health problems do usually cause noticeable symptoms other than panting, this is not always the case. It is better to get your Malamute checked and be sure that they are okay than leaving them and potentially risking a health issue becoming worse.
Panting is to be expected in Alaskan Malamutes but if you’re worried that they are panting for no reason, you should take them to see a vet. If you have any questions about the content in this article, leave a comment below or get in touch through our contact form by clicking here.