Although panting is a natural way for Belgian Malinois ( same as for other dog breeds) to cool down, heavy panting might be a sign of some kind of discomfort or pain. How to know if your Mal pants too much and what can be the trigger for that?
Belgian Malinois are panting when they are hot, excited, afraid, or nervous. Mals are large dogs so, therefore it is normal for them to pant more than smaller breeds. Heavy panting in Malinois may occur if the dog suffers from respiratory issues, heart disease, allergies, metabolic problems, and dehydration. Pay attention if your Mal pants with a closed or partially open mouth, if this is the case, consult the vet. If panting lasts for more than 10 min consider taking Malinois to the vet.
How To Identify Excessive Panting in Belgian Malinois?
In order to discover if your Belgian Malinois has a panting problem, you need to know what is considered a normal breathing rate for dogs. The non-panting breathing rate, at rest, is about 25-30 inhalations and exhalations per minute.
A Mal that pants excessively can take up to 10 times that many breaths per minute.
It’s important to distinguish between normal and abnormal/heavy panting because both of them can be scary for a novice dog owner.
Normal panting in Mals occurs when they are hot, excited, or physically active. Belgian Malinois is panting with an open mouth and his/her breathing should back to normal in a couple of minutes.
Heavy/abnormal panting though can be the sign that your Mal is dangerously overheated, struggling with some health problem, or faced some serious trauma. Pay special attention if your dog breaths fast with a closed or partially open mouth. If he does that, it could be a sign of some serious health issue. Plus if he is coughing along with heavy breathing most probably he has a respiratory problem. In any case, do consult the vet. Also if he is panting for 10 minutes or more, consider this panting as abnormal and seek the vet’s help.
Follow these steps to find out if your Belgian Malinois panting is normal or excessive :
- Take note when the panting is happening. Normal panting is characteristic for dogs after physical activity or some kind of excitement and high temepratures, of course. A healthy dog has no reason to pant in the absence of these factors.
- Look at the postion of his/her mouth, is it open, partially open or closed? During normal panting it should be open.
- Does your Mal has any other symptoms along with panting? Do you find him lethargic or he refuses his meals. Can he walk around? What is the color of his gums ( pale, bright red or pink) Does he has any signs of illness like vomiting or coughing? If he does, go to the vet, since excessive panting could be the sign of some underlying health problem.
- Pay attention to the sound of your Mal’s panting. Has it changed lately? There is the condition called Laryngeal paralisys which is not preciselly characteristic for Belgian Malinois but any breed can suffer from it, and it makes panting sound of the dog more pronaunced. If you find your Mal’s panting sound different then it used to be, you should definately consult the vet, eventough your pet doesn’t have any other symptom.
Why Is My Belgian Malinois Panting?
Panting is normal activity for every healthy and happy pooch. It’s a perfect cooling mechanism since dogs, including Malinois as well, don’t have sweat glands. So they pant to regulate the body temperature.
Both small and large breeds pant but bear in mind that overweight dogs pant more than dogs with normal weight. Also larger breeds like Belgian Malinois pants more than smaller dogs.
The most common reasons for normal panting in Belgian Malinois:
- After physical activity, energetic playtime, exercise
- When the weather is hot/ high temperatures
- During car ride ( some dogs are afraid of car ride, some of them feel uncofortable or too hot inside of vehicle, while some others may pant more due to motion sickness )
- Malinois may pant when they meet new people or new dogs. Either they are excited or afraid of meeting someone new, it can result in fast and shalow breathing
- Sudden loud sounds, thunderstorms, firework, anything that can cause them stress or fear will lead to panting in Mals (along with panting, stressed dog will yawn, drool, will have increased heart beat, will pace and make wide cricling movement repeatedly)
- Some medication, especially steriod based ones can cause panting in Malinois. Also the heart medications like Prednisone or some drugs that treat female incontinence are likely to cause panting in Mals
- Senior Mals may pant more then younger ones. The main reason is that with ageing dogs become more prone to different diseases and health issues which can cause excessive panting.
Why Abnormal Panting Occurs In Belgian Malinois?
Abnormal panting is usually pain or some other health issue-related. But also can be associated with a wide range of behavioral problems like anxiety, stress, phobias, fears…
Malinois has a good tolerance for heat. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should leave your Mal outside when the air temperature is 90-100F because even a healthy adult Mal will feel uncomfortable in temperatures above 85-90F ( 29-32c ). Higher temperatures can cause overheating and heavy breathing in Belgian Malinois.
Although in rare cases, Belgian Malinois may pant excessively due to several health issues such as :
- Cushing’s disease ( other symptoms are increased thirst, urination and appetite, reduced activity and hair loss)
- Heart disease ( other symptoms are weakness, coughing, abodminal swelling)
- Respiratory distress ( other symptoms ocassional coughing, blue discoloration of the skin, blue gums, nasal congestion)
- Chornic pain ( other symptoms are sensitivity to touch, grumpines/moodiness, depression, lack of appetite, limping)
- Metabolic disoreders ( other symptoms are lethargy, poor appetite, vomiting, abodminal pain, weight loss)
- Allergies ( other symptoms are itichness, vomiting, red, inflamed skin, sneezing, swelling of the ears, eyes, eyelids, lips)
If Mal is dehydrated for some reason, apart from excessive panting, he will also show the following symptoms: loss of appetite and skin elasticity, lack of energy, dry-looking eyes, dry nose, dry and deep red, sticky gums.
How Do You Calm A Belgian Malinois From Panting?
To calm your Mal from panting, you need to know the reason for heavy breathing. If it’s normal panting, don’t worry about it too much.
Bear in mind that Mals are not that sensitive to high temperatures but still keep your dog inside during long, summer days if the air temperatures are above 90F or if there is a high level of humidity. Never leave your Mal in a parked car.
If he is outside make sure he has some shady place if he needs a rest and that has unlimited excess to fresh water whenever he desires.
If your Mal pants excessively try to calm him. You can talk to him in a soft tone and with a reassuring voice.
If you know that firework or thunderstorm freak out your dog so he is panting too much, do keep him away from those sounds, keep him inside, lower the blinds, put some relaxing music on, stay with him…
Bear in mind that Belgian Malinois is an athletic dog with high energy that requires a lot of daily exercise and an active outdoor lifestyle.
If Malinois doesn’t get enough exercise on daily basis, this can lead to many illnesses, obesity, and destructive behavior. Excessive panting is going to be only one of the consequences.
Use a de-shedding brush regularly (once a week, 10-15 min brushing session, or even more often during the shedding season) to remove your Mal’s dead hair. Regular brushing sessions will help your Mal to cool down easier and prevent excessive panting.
Remember if your Mal pants excessively even if it’s not hot or he hasn’t had any physical activity you should see the vet. If your dog follows a certain pattern in panting but is accompanied by other symptoms you should definitely consult the vet.