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Differential Diagnosis: Panting

Julie Allen, BVMS, MS, MRCVS, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVP (Clinical), Durham, North Carolina

Respiratory Medicine

|January 2019|Peer Reviewed

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Following are differential diagnoses, listed in order of likelihood, for patients* presented with panting.

  • Normal (some panting, such as with heat, exertion, or excitement, can be considered “normal”; can also be seen in cats, particularly young cats, although this is less common)
  • Excessive weight/obesity
  • Pain
  • Behavior issue (eg, anxiety)
  • Respiratory disease (eg, laryngeal paralysis, chronic bronchitis [including cats])
  • Cardiac disease (eg, congestive heart failure)**
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Drug effects (eg, from opioids or glucocorticoids)

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  • Endocrine disease, usually in association with other clinical signs:
    • Hyperadrenocorticism
    • Hyperthyroidism
    • Pheochromocytoma
  • Fever
  • Systemic hypertension
  • Acidosis secondary to:
    • Renal failure
    • Diabetic ketoacidosis
    • Ethylene glycol or salicylate toxicity
  • CNS disease:
    • Disease affecting the respiratory center
    • Postictal
*The differential diagnoses included here are seen most commonly in dogs. Those differentials of note in cats are highlighted.
**Cardiovascular disease should be ruled out in young cats presented with panting.


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