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Why is my dog panting and restless at night?

Dogs will often pant while engaging in physical activity on a warm day or while playing fetch. However, excessive panting at night may be occurring due to an underlying health issue. Today, our Leighton vets discuss symptoms and treatment options. We also offer advice on when to book an exam. 

Just as humans sweat to regulate their body temperature, panting allows dogs to do the same thing. However, if your dog is panting at night, this is a different matter – especially if there does not appear to be an obvious reason for your dog to be in distress. 

Why is my dog panting so much?

Many circumstances that may trigger panting in a dog aren't anything to worry about. For example, if you've just taken your dog on a walk in humid weather, engaged in an energetic play session, or watched as they've become excited while playing with a four-legged friend or chasing after a ball, their breathing should soon calm without incident. 

That said, panting and restless behavior (e.g. pacing) in mild or ideal weather conditions, or on cooler evenings, may indicate a serious health issue. Some potential reasons for excessive panting may include:

  • Heart Disease – Excessive panting and coughing can be symptoms of heart disease or heart failure. These conditions can severely negatively impact your dog's ability to breathe. If this is the case for your dog, you may notice your pup panting heavily after walking only a short distance. 
  • Heatstroke  – This serious issue can happen quickly and become fatal if not treated. Dogs are at higher risk for heatstroke once temperatures rise above 106°F (41°C). This condition can cause heavy panting, leading to dehydration. While high temperatures are especially challenging for short-nosed breeds like pugs, you should never leave a dog of any breed alone in a car on a warm-weather day, as heatstroke can occur within minutes. 
  • Cushing's Disease – If too much corisol builds up in the bloodstream, your dog may develop Cushing's disease. Along with panting, other symptoms of Cushing's disease include an increase in hunger and thirst, frequent urination, hair loss, and a pot-bellied appearance. This issue is commonly diagnosed in older dogs and is often a reason for abnormally heavy panting. 

Why is my dog restless and panting at night?

Here are some other common causes of panting and restlessness in dogs during the evening hours:

  • Anxiety or Stress – This can be caused by events that may be upsetting for your dog, such as loud noises, including fireworks or thunderstorms. Issues such as separation anxiety can also cause your dog to breathe rapidly. 
  • Environmental issues. Puppies and senior dogs have a harder time coping with high nighttime temperatures, and dogs with untreated allergies often have disrupted sleep.
  • Pain or Discomfort. Dogs experiencing pain from an injury or a condition such as arthritis may exhibit nighttime panting and/or pacing behaviors. (e.g. injury, arthritis, allergies)
  • Canine Cognitive Disorder (dog dementia). Dogs affected by this disorder often have disturbed sleep-wake cycles and may exhibit excessive panting and restlessness.

When should my dog see a vet?

If your dog exhibits symptoms of excessive nighttime panting, pacing, or other anxious behaviors, it may be time to schedule an exam with your vet. If you spot any signs of heatstroke in your dog, immediately take them for emergency veterinary care during clinic hours, or treatment after hours at a nearby emergency veterinary hospital. Your veterinarian will examine your canine companion, perform any necessary diagnostic and treatment procedures, and work with you to help your dog feel better today and tomorrow.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Worried that your dog pants excessively at night? Contact our Leighton vets today to schedule an exam. We can diagnose any health issues and prescribe treatment options.

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Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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