People sweat when they are warm. Dogs panting. They do less sweating. You can not take a warm piece of clothing off or take a button off. So panting is more effective for a dog than sweating.
With a quick superficial breathing, no more oxygen comes into the lungs.
So panting has nothing to do with distress.
Panting and overweight
It is estimated that 35% of all dogs and cats in the Netherlands are too fat. Carrying extra kilos costs more energy. In addition, overweight dogs get hot faster because fat isolates. Dogs with obesity thus gasp faster and more often.
To lose weight, a dog must eat less or exercise more.
Panting from unrest / nervousness
If you are nervous, you may experience more sweating. Your dog will pant. If you are concerned about this, your dog will feel this. He thinks you are nervous, becomes nervous of this and goes to panting even more.
Many people and dogs relax with sport. Have your dog checked by the vet and, if your dog is healthy, work with him / her.
Panting and pain / illness
Pain and illness can be accompanied by panting. Your dog can not say anything in pain and illness, but if your dog eats well, drinks normally, likes to run and play and has normal endurance, your dog is (probably) healthy.
If in doubt, go to a veterinarian.
Gasping or stuffy ?
A healthy dog ? breathes (at rest) 10 to 30 times per minute. A dog that is panting may breathe 100 times per minute. Animals that are stuffy usually breathe slightly more than 30 times per minute. They can also breathe differently: when breathing in, the abdomen can be sucked in or the chest expands further than normal.
Dogs with a narrowing of the large airways (nose, throat, vocal cords or trachea) make a different sound when breathing.
A lung photo or bronchoscopy can give more information if there is trouble.