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What's That Clicking Noise When a Dog is Panting?

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A clicking noise when a dog is panting may surely make dog owners wonder what may be going on with their best friend. Where is that noise coming from, and most of all, what is causing it? Sometimes, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the sound, although in most cases it sounds like it's coming from the dog's mouth or somewhere along the airway. The affected dog may therefore require closer investigation and sometimes a thorough battery of tests to rule out certain medical conditions. Following are some possible causes of a clicking noise when a dog is panting.

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A Matter of Tracheal Collapse

A clicking sound when panting may sometimes stem from a collapsed trachea. The dog's trachea is composed of several cartilage rings which in a normal, healthy dog, are perfect in shape and meant to keep the dog's trachea nice and rigid.

Problems start though, when, degenerative changes take place causing the cartilage rings to start to soften and eventually become flattened and collapsed.

This is likely to occur the most when the dog is excited and panting, causing respiratory noises and even coughing. Tracheal collapse is most commonly seen in smaller breed dogs.

A Case of Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is a condition that can affect any dog breed although it is more commonly seen in Labrador retrievers. The clicking sound may at times derive from flap on the larynx that closes when the dog swallows. Typically, affected dogs develop panting, noisy breathing and voice changes among various signs of laryngeal paralysis in dogs.

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An Elongated Soft Palate

Dogs featuring short noses and flat faces are dogs that are categorized as brachycephalic. Examples of brachycephalic dog breeds include boxers, bulldogs, pugs and Boston terriers. The facial features of these dogs often result in a soft palate that is too long (elongated) and narrowed, almost slit/like nostrils and voice box abnormalities known to cause unusual breathing sounds, which can take place during sleep or when the dog is awake.

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In most cases, such dogs sound as if they are snoring when awake, but in some cases, you may also sometimes stumble on odd noises such as rattling sounds and clicking as these dogs take deep breaths.

Although these sounds may be rather normal for brachycephalic breeds, some cases may benefit from treatments ranging from medications to help the dog breathe better to surgery to widen the nasal passages.

Other Possible Problems

There are several other things that may be wrong in the case of a clicking noise when the dog is panting. For instance, there may be a problem with the palate at the top of the dog's mouth or perhaps there may be something stuck in the dog's throat or some localized swelling.

Just a Normal Sound

Finally, if the clicking sound is heard when the dog is panting occurs only at certain times, it may just be something as simple as the mucous membranes of the mouth or throat being dry. Generally, as the dog salivates or drinks some water, the noise should reduce or stop.

What's really happening though upon noticing a clicking sound when a dog is panting may be just speculation. Perhaps, it's the tongue's movement as the dog pants to create the sound or perhaps it's the sound of saliva stuck in between the dog's cheeks. Maybe as the dog is panting, the dog's tongue keeps hitting the top of the mouth.

If you notice a clicking sound when your dog pants, it may therefore be best to consult with your vet. If it only happens at certain times, your best bet is to record it when your dog does it and then show the recording to your vet.

What did your dog's clicking noise when panting turned out to be? Please share your experience in the comments section.

For Further Reading:

Dog clicking noises from the jaws

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