Differential Diagnosis: Panting

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

ArticleLast Updated December 20181 min readPeer 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)

  • 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.