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Is Your Dog Panting at Night? How to Help Calm Him

I enjoy writing about issues related to the health and wellness of animals and providing guidance to pet owners on effective home remedies.

When a dog pants at night without being warm or exercised, it likely indicates stress.

When a dog pants at night without being warm or exercised, it likely indicates stress.

Why Is My Dog Panting at Night?

Dogs frequently pant, especially when they're hot, extremely happy, or active. If you discover your dog panting at night however, it may be more concerning because he is in a state of rest. This should alert you that your pet may be experiencing some difficulties.

Panting at night is often an indication of stress or anxiety since stressed or anxious dogs have trouble settling down. Your dog may experience nighttime anxiety as a result of other underlying medical issues like pain, illness, or abnormal brain activity, especially if he exhibits noisy breathing at night.

Some other reasons to explain your dog panting at night might be overheating, dealing with a chronic health issue, or if he has undergone a traumatic event that poses a serious risk to his life.

Signs and Symptoms of Dogs Panting at Night

By recognizing the symptoms, learning how to care for your dog, and knowing when to consult a veterinarian, you can greatly contribute to your pet's health and well-being. Here are some common things to look out for:

Does Your Dog Feel Hot?

The most frequent cause of a dog's panting is overheating, which is a dog's method of cooling off. Panting is needed to cool down because dogs lack an efficient system of sweat glands like people. Instead, dogs cool their bodies by exchanging hot air from their lungs for cooler outside air and evaporating moisture from their mouth and tongue.

The fact that your dog is not recovering from recent exercise, however, makes nighttime panting more concerning. As a pet owner, you might consider whether the room's temperature is too high or whether your dog's body feels warm to the touch.

Offer him some assurance and a drink of water, and watch to see if the panting stops. If your dog cools down and the panting subsides, you don't have to worry about it at night unless your dog exhibits signs of distress or other symptoms.

Is Your Dog Drinking Too Much Water?

If your dog is panting during the night and drinking a lot more water than usual, it could be a warning sign of Cushing’s disease. It would be wise to call your vet right away if you notice these symptoms in your dog. Due to their overactive adrenal glands, dogs with Cushing's disease are more likely to experience kidney damage, blood clots, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

If your veterinarian confirms Cushing's disease as the cause of your dog's panting and excessive thirst, surgery or adrenal-suppressing medications may be used as treatment. Pet owners should pay particular attention to nighttime panting and excessive thirst in senior dogs because these symptoms could indicate disease or a more serious medical condition. You might need to see a veterinarian for a checkup if there is no obvious cause for your dog's increased thirst.

Is Your Dog Restless?

A dog who paces around in the middle of the night is probably trying to communicate with you. Your dog is probably panting and acting restless due to underlying stress, fear, or anxiety if discomfort or pain is not the cause.

Anxiety is the most frequent reason for panting and restlessness in dogs with no other clinical symptoms. There are several potential causes for your dog's nighttime upset.

For instance, dogs may experience severe anxiety during thunderstorms or fireworks displays. As these frequently happen during the night, check to see if this is a plausible explanation for their panting and restlessness. In that case, the most helpful thing you can do for your dog is to let him go to a safe place like a bathtub or closet during thunderstorms, as they feel familiar and safe there.

Do not punish them for any negative behavior during thunderstorms as their actions are caused by stress and anxiety; remember that they are not acting this way on purpose.

A change in familiar surroundings may also be the cause of your dog's panting or agitation. A newborn baby or pet in the home is a clear illustration of this because babies and puppies disturb sleep at night. It makes sense that dogs would pick up on odd occurrences outside of normal household routines. His physical behavior and body language may help to let you know that he is feeling awkward or left out. He may just need some affection and assurance to calm down.

A dog's panting or agitation may be brought on by a change in surroundings

A dog's panting or agitation may be brought on by a change in surroundings

Is Your Dog a Senior?

An older dog panting at night may have arthritis pain or back issues that are negatively affecting his quality of life. Distress may also be brought on by heart disease and breathing issues like bronchitis, a collapsing trachea, or laryngeal paralysis. Panting in older dogs may also occur at night due to glandular conditions like Cushing's disease.

Dogs around 9 years of age and older commonly start suffering from the dog equivalent of Alzheimer's disease, also known as CDS (or "cognitive dysfunction syndrome"). Anxiety and stress brought on by this condition can make a dog pant excessively at night. A dog with CDS experiences progressive brain degeneration, which results in abnormal and senile behaviors that are indicative of deteriorating cognitive function.

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Due to a disruption in their sleep-wake cycle, dogs with canine cognitive disorders frequently have trouble falling asleep and walk restlessly around the house at night. The dog may lose awareness of its surroundings, causing anxiety as well as panting and restlessness.

If your veterinarian has determined that canine dementia is to blame for his nighttime panting, your dog may benefit from your love and patience. Maintaining your dog's calm and happiness is essential because many symptoms of dementia are exacerbated when he or she is stressed, anxious, or confused.

Did Your Dog Just Have Surgery?

Following surgery, panting or noisy breathing while sleeping is fairly typical and shouldn't raise too many warning signs. It may be brought on by the anxiety and stress of the procedure itself; your dog may simply need some time to calm down and relax. The panting may be more noticeable as he drifts off to sleep at night, but it should subside eventually.

However, it is crucial to monitor your pet for signs of any pain after their surgery, as this can trigger heavy breathing and pant during the night. You might notice behavioral changes in your dog if the painkillers used during anesthesia are wearing off. To help manage this, discuss your dog's pain-management strategy with your veterinarian.

Maintaining your dog's calm and happiness is essential

Maintaining your dog's calm and happiness is essential

Dog Panting at Night Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  1. What could you do if your dog is panting at night and feels hot?
    • Offer him some assurance and a drink of water
    • Put him outside where it's cold
  2. What are some symptoms of Cushing's Disease in dogs?
    • Unusual chewing or drooling from the mouth
    • Increased thirst and excessive panting
  3. Why should nighttime panting be more worrisome in older dogs?
    • Senior dogs may become distressed due to arthritis pain or back issues
    • Senior dogs have too much energy and can be hyperactive at night
  4. During the night, what could a panting and restless dog be trying to tell you?
    • He really needs to go outside to the bathroom.
    • He is maybe stressed, in pain, or is afraid of something.
  5. Following surgery, is it normal for a dog to pant during the night?
    • Yes, it may be brought on by the anxiety and stress of the procedure
    • Yes, because the painkillers could be wearing off
    • Yes, but it's important to follow up with your veterinarian
    • All of the above are correct

Scoring

Use the scoring guide below to add up your total points based on your answers.

  1. What could you do if your dog is panting at night and feels hot?
    • Offer him some assurance and a drink of water: +2 points
    • Put him outside where it's cold: -2 points
  2. What are some symptoms of Cushing's Disease in dogs?
    • Unusual chewing or drooling from the mouth: -2 points
    • Increased thirst and excessive panting: +2 points
  3. Why should nighttime panting be more worrisome in older dogs?
    • Senior dogs may become distressed due to arthritis pain or back issues: +2 points
    • Senior dogs have too much energy and can be hyperactive at night: +0 points
  4. During the night, what could a panting and restless dog be trying to tell you?
    • He really needs to go outside to the bathroom.: +1 point
    • He is maybe stressed, in pain, or is afraid of something.: +3 points
  5. Following surgery, is it normal for a dog to pant during the night?
    • Yes, it may be brought on by the anxiety and stress of the procedure: +2 points
    • Yes, because the painkillers could be wearing off: +2 points
    • Yes, but it's important to follow up with your veterinarian: +2 points
    • All of the above are correct: +4 points

Interpreting Your Score

A score between -1 and 3 means: ?

A score between 4 and 7 means: ?

A score between 8 and 10 means: ?

A score of 11 means: ?

A score between 12 and 13 means: ?

Summary

Dogs panting at night could be an indication of stress, anxiety, or a more concerning medical condition. Knowing the symptoms, how to treat your dog, and when to consult a veterinarian are crucial for your pet's health and wellbeing.

A dog that paces during the night is probably attempting to get your attention, while an older dog who pants at night may be experiencing back pain or arthritis that is lowering his quality of life. If your dog pants at night and drinks a lot more water, it may be a sign of Cushing's disease. Panting or noisy breathing during sleep after surgery may result from the stress and anxiety of the procedure itself.

If discomfort or pain is not the issue, your dog's behavior is likely a sign of underlying stress, fear, or anxiety. His physical actions and body language should be a sign of how uncomfortable he feels. Perhaps all he needs to calm down is a bit of love and assurance. However, always keep an eye out for warning signs and seek advice from a veterinarian.

Sources and Further Reading

  • Dog Communication - Wikipedia
    If the dog pants rapidly even though it is not exposed to warm conditions or intense physical activity, then this signals excitement due to stress.
  • Heavy Panting in Dogs
    WebMD explains why your dog might be panting heavily - and when to call the vet.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Louise Fiolek

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