Why Is My Shih Tzu Panting? 14 Causes and Remedies

Spread the love

Panting is common in most dogs. It is their way of releasing excess body heat and balancing the body temperature. It involves the body releasing heat from all the moist areas of the body through evaporation. So, it is normal if your Shih Tzu is panting excessively on a very hot day.

Shih Tzus have sweat glands within their ears and under their paws towards the sides. However, these glands do not have cooling abilities and do not help Shih Tzu get rid of most of the heat in their body.

Why Is My Shih Tzu Panting So Much?

If you find your Shih Tzu is panting so much, then it may be fine because the level of panting changes according to your Shih Tzu’s body requirements.

With the change in its environment, it’s panting also changes.

If you are in a cool place, you may notice that your Shih Tzu is panting much less than its normal behavior.

However, if you are in a very warm place or the weather is too hot, you may find your Shih Tzu panting excessively in order to feel better inside.

If these are not your concern points, then there may be something wrong with your Shih Tzu panting, and you need to figure that out as soon as possible.

How Do I Know Shih Tzu Panting Is Abnormal?

How Do I Know Shih Tzu Panting Is Abnormal?

If you notice that your Shih Tzu is not panting because of the heat (can notice things like you are in a cool place or the weather is cold enough they require no panting at all) and is showing different panting behavior, then it may be abnormal panting.

You may notice the following things;

  • The panting behavior is different from its usual pattern
  • Your Shih Tzu is panting at times when it is completely inappropriate, for example, when it is not warm
  • Your Shih Tzu voice may sound louder than usual and harsher than the normal routine
  • It looks more exertional than normal panting behavior

What Are The Causes Of Abnormal Panting In Shih Tzu?

The following are the causes that are making your Shih Tzu do abnormal panting:

  • Anxiety and stress

If your Shih Tzu is not panting to release body heat, it may be going through something else that results in excessive and abnormal panting.

Stress is a common sign, especially when you find your Shih Tzu being fearful of something.

An easier way to judge this is by linking it with other behaviors, such as saying no to food, being overly clingy, flattened ears, tail tucked, pupils dilating, a crouching posture, and is also losing control over bowel movement, etc.

  • Pain

Excessive panting can also be a way to release pain or discomfort.

If your Shih Tzu is uncomfortable, you may see it is panting way more than usual, which is an obvious indicator that it requires help.

You, Shih Tzu, may also start limping or whining along with panting to show how much pain it is dealing with.

  • Heart Failure

Your Shih Tzu may be panting unintentionally and more forcefully by its body’s command.

Your Shih Tzu may be struggling to get more oxygen for its lungs because sometimes, the heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout the body, which requires an increase in respiratory rate to help the body.

If you are unable to help your Shih Tzu at this time, it may result in heart failure. You need to take it to the vet as soon as possible before anything wrong happens.

  • Lung Disease

If your Shih Tzu is struggling and panting excessively more often than this, it may be a sign of lung disease.

Lung disease stops proper oxygen production, which makes your Shih Tzu struggle to get more oxygen, and it can only do that by panting.

  • Anemia

When there is a decrease in red blood cells in the body, your Shih Tzu may develop anemia.

Even if it has a normal level of anemia or high, it will be unable to breath proper because no matter what the level of anemia is, red blood cells are not enough to provide enough oxygen.

It can be confusing to judge because other diseases like lung disease and heart failure also stop your Shih Tzu from breathing easily.

  • Laryngeal Paralysis

The larynx is the trachea which is an opening to the windpipe. This larynx has cartilage flaps that work back and forth, like opening and closing the door when breathing happens.

It opens up when your Shih Tzu is breathing and closes when swallowing something to make it easier.

However, in larynx paralysis, your Shih Tzu is bound to pant more than usual because one of those cartilage flaps stops working properly, leading to airflow restriction and more troubles to the windpipe, etc.

  • Crushing’s Disease

If your Shih Tzu is of middle age or older than that, then it is more likely to develop crushing’s disease.

But this is optional because not every Shih Tzu has it. Shih Tzus develop this disease because of the overproduction of cortisone in their body.

Adrenal glands produce cortisone which is also known as steroids. Panting is its most common and obvious symptom.

Excessive panting and abnormal panting are the symptoms.

The treatment for crushing’s disease also helps with the panting problem.

  • Fever

Fever increases the normal body temperature to an unusual temperature. This increase in body temperature is not something Shih Tzus like. So, they are more likely to start panting when they have a fever. It may also start shivering, vomiting, and coughing and become lethargic.

  • Heartworm

Heartworm is a very serious and deadly disease in Shih Tzus. In this disease, parasite worms start living in the heart or pulmonary artery of the heart in dogs (Shih Tzus).

These worms may inflate in different parts of the heart and result in severe blockages in the heart. It will lead to transforming into further heart and lung diseases.

When mosquitos with heartworm disease blood meal bite another Shih Tzu that is not affected, it causes heartworm in that Shih Tzu too. Keep taking your Shih Tzu to the vet during mosquito season so that you can know whether it has been affected by the parasites or not.

  • High blood pressure

If your Shih Tzu has high blood pressure, then panting will be a usual thing for both of you to see. However, high blood pressure in Shih Tzus can signify that your Shih Tzu has any kidney disease or tumors in its adrenal glands.

Some very common symptoms are;

  • More drinking, along with more urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding inside the eyes
  • Retinal detachment
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism dulls your Shih Tzu, and there is a constant lack of energy seen in Shih Tzus dealing with hypothyroidism. It causes side effects like restlessness, panting, hyperactivity, and weight loss, especially when there is an increase in appetite.

You may notice your Shih Tzu is becoming colder in terms of its attitude, and its tolerance level is also decreasing. Its coat is also thinning.

  • Obesity

Obesity makes it difficult to carry those extra pounds in all living things and even in Shih Tzus. Obesity makes it difficult for the blood to reach all the important places it needs to be, resulting in panting.

  • Poisoning

Sometimes, abnormal panting can be a cause of eating poison. Your Shih Tzu may start vomiting or get seizures after eating poison. You need to call for an emergency or make a call to the vet right away.

Poisoning Shih Tzus or other dogs is always done through human foods like grapes, chocolate, garlic, raisins, and even coffee, etc. everyday household cleaning products may also lead to poisoning your Shih Tzu such as cleaners, mediations, and cosmetics, etc.

  • Allergy

Shih Tzus may have allergies to different things. They can also have bad reactions to medicines, which can cause side effects.

If your Shih Tzu takes anxiety or stress medications or steroids, it will eventually result in unusual panting.

When Should I Start Worrying About My Shih Tzus Panting?

When Should I Start Worrying About My Shih Tzus Panting?

When your Shih Tzu is not panting as it does in its regular routine and it seems like it is trying hard and sounding harsh, you need to worry about its health. Even after your help it is still not getting better, then take it to the vet as soon as possible.

Why Is My Shih Tzu Panting At Night?

Shih Tzu may be panting at night because there is too much overheating in its body, and it is trying to release it. Another reason can be that your Shih Tzu is not feeling okay and is afraid of something or anxious.

You need to be there with your Shih Tzu if it has anxiety or if it is feeling warm, try to help it by turning on the air conditioner. However, if these are not the reasons for its panting, then there can be something serious that your Shih Tzu is dealing with. You need to take your Shih Tzu to the vet right away.

Why Is My Shih Tzu Panting And Shivering?

Suppose your Shih Tzu is shivering along with excessive panting. In that case, this is a very serious condition because shivering and panting together are the indicators of any lung, heart, or nervous system disease. Before things get worse, you must take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Why Is My Shih Tzu Panting While Sleeping?

If your Shih Tzu is panting while sleeping, this indicates a severe condition. You should not wait for your Shih Tzu to wake up and get better. Instead, take them to the veterinarian right away.

Why Is My Pregnant Shih Tzu Panting?

Shih Tzu panting after getting pregnant is different than it was before. Pregnant Shih Tzus have labor breathing, and their owners usually confuse this with panting. This type of breathing sounds like crying and whining, etc.

If this is normal panting, then there is no need to worry. But if this is unusual and severe, you need to take your Shih Tzu to the vet. It is your responsibility that your Shih Tzu will have a healthy and safe pregnancy.

Why Is My Shih Tzu Panting In Car?

It is very common for owners to take their dogs with them while going somewhere. But only some dogs love to be in a car. The same goes for Shih Tzus. Shih Tzus may get anxious if they do not like getting in cars, and this can cause panting. However, if your Shih Tzu loves to stay in a car, panting can also signify excitement.

Another reason behind your Shih Tzus panting in a car is that the car temperature may need to be better.

Ensure you do not put your Shih Tzu in an extremely hot car because this will cause excessive panting and can lead to sudden death.

In order to avoid this situation, your car’s air conditioner needs to be on whenever you get your Shih Tzu in the car.

Make sure they are comfortable and are not feeling anxious or hot.

Avoid leaving them alone in the car, especially during day times when the air conditioner is not on.


Panting in Shih Tzu is common, but if it gets abnormal and unusual, you need to take it seriously.

Providing your Shih Tzu with proper living conditions, comfort, and safety is very important, and you can only do this when you know about Shih Tzus and know their needs and traits, etc.


I am the owner of Shihtzuadvice.com and the proud parent of two black and one gold Shih Tzu's. I belive that the Shih Tzu is the best all-around dog for anyone and want to share with you as much valuable knowledge as possible about this great breed!

Recent Posts