Is Panting in Dogs Normal After Surgery?

James Glover
by James Glover
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QuestionMy dog has just had surgery to remove a tumor from her abdomen. After bringing her home I noticed she seems to be panting a lot. The temperature is not above 60 so she can not be too hot. What could be wrong? (David Toombs - Massachusetts)


Firstly, as in humans, any kind of surgery is a stressful and painful experience for dogs. Dogs will not normally be able to return to their normal routine immediately after surgery, and will usually require between 3 and 5 days of rest. Stress and anxiety cause the release of adrenaline within the dog's body which elevates blood sugar levels and blood pressure and increases the activity of the heart and lungs - often resulting in panting. It's therefore quite normal for your dog to be panting more than normal for the first few days after surgery.

However, excessive panting may indicate a failure to regulate body temperature or excessive stress, which could be caused by pain. Because stress can slow the healing process, if you think your dog is under severe stress - for example he is suffering from too much pain, you should consult your veterinarian to review your dog's pain management medication. When panting is related to stress, anxiety or pain, often the end of the tongue will be cupped as opposed to being limp.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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Added on March 3rd, 2010
Please consider taking your beloved to the E.R. if this occurs. My otherwise healthy 5 year lab passed away this morning after a similar experience. While I do not know if he could have been saved, I would not have had to wonder.