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Uncovering the Mystery: Why Is My Dog Panting at Night?

  • 8 min read

Panting is normal dog behavior. They may pant after a walk, on a hot day, or sometimes even when they're relaxed. But if excessive panting is disrupting your sleep or theirs, it might cause concern.

Now there are many reasons why dogs pant at night, and we’ll explore each one of them in this article. We’ll also help you understand what you can do to help your dog if you notice excessive panting.

So let’s dive in!

Why Do Dogs Pant?

Usually, dogs pant to help regulate their body temperature. Unlike humans, our dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies. It’s because their entire body is covered in fur, which wouldn’t allow their sweat to evaporate if the sweat glands were located on their bodies. Hence, their sweat glands are located in a much more efficient location, i.e., their paw pads.

But unfortunately, sweating through paw pads alone is not enough to cool down their body and release heat. Therefore, they pant to allow moisture to evaporate from their tongue, mouth, and respiratory tract. This helps to prevent overheating and maintain a healthy body temperature.

Interestingly, dogs can also use panting as a way to calm themselves when they feel excited, scared, or even anxious. However, excessive panting can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Why is Your Dog Panting at Night & What Should You Do?

Below we have outlined the various reasons that can lead to excessive panting at night. We have also included some tips on what you should do to help your dog find relief in such situations.

1. Overheating or Heatstroke

Overheating or heatstroke is one of the most common reasons for excessive panting. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including environmental conditions that are hot and humid, excessive physical activity, and underlying health conditions such as obesity.

Additionally, some dog breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, find it difficult to breathe and pant because of the structure of their faces, making them more susceptible to heatstroke.

If your dog is having a heatstroke, you might also notice other signs like:

  • Dehydration
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Excessive drooling
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures or muscle tremors
  • Lack of coordination

What should you do?

It’s important to act fast in such situations as a heat stroke can have severe consequences, including organ damage and even death. So if you suspect your dog is having a heatstroke, follow these steps:

1. Move them into an air-conditioned room or a room with a fan.

2. If they’re sleeping with you on your bed, move them to a tiled or concrete floor, as your bedding might be the reason they’re feeling hot.

3. Offer them cool water to drink.

4. Put cool, wet towels on your dog's head, neck, and chest to bring down their body temperature.

5. You can also pour cool water on their body to help lower their body temperature. But make sure the water is cool and not icy cold.

If, even after doing all this, your dog is still panting excessively and their body temperature continues to rise, you should seek medical treatment from a veterinarian to prevent any potential complications.

How to avoid this situation?

No pet parent wants to handle this kind of situation, thus we’d recommend you follow these tips to prevent heatstroke in your dogs:

  • Avoid excessive exercise during hot weather
  • Make sure they always have access to fresh drinking water
  • Keep the temperature of your home cool and comfortable with air conditioning or fans
  • If you live in a place that has hot and humid weather, you should consider investing in a cooling vest
2. Anxiety or Stress

Just like humans, dogs can also feel anxious and stressed, which can lead to excessive panting. It can happen in response to various factors, such as changes in their environment or routine, loud noises, fear of separation, or some kind of past trauma or abuse. Sometimes, they might even feel anxious after a bad dream.

In addition to excessive panting, when a dog is experiencing stress or anxiety, you may notice other signs, like:

  • Trembling
  • Pacing
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Excessive barking, whining, licking, or chewing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Aggression
  • Digging or hiding

What should you do?

In such situations, you might be able to provide relief to your dog by identifying and eliminating the root cause of their anxiety. For example, if they’re getting scared of loud noises, you can either eliminate the source of the noise or bring them into a separate room away from that noise.

Similarly, if they’re anxious due to a bad dream, you can bring them to your bed to cuddle and make them feel safe and secure.

But if there is a bigger underlying cause of your dog’s anxiety, you should provide them with appropriate care and support. This could involve positive reinforcement techniques, anxiety relief vests, therapies, supplements, behavioral training, and proper veterinary care.

How to avoid this situation?

Anxiety and stress are very common in dogs, and in some cases, it’s recommended to seek professional help. However, you can also make small changes to help prevent anxiety and stress in your dog:

  • Allow your dog to socialize with other dogs, people, and new environments to make them feel more confident
  • Avoid punishment-based training that includes yelling or hitting, even when done lightly
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques that include offering treats and praises
  • Set a consistent daily routine that revolves around regular feeding times, playtime, and sleeping

You should also consider consulting your veterinarian to better understand and address your dog’s anxiety and stress situation. It’ll help you provide them with a happy and healthy life.

3. Pain

Dogs have a natural instinct to hide pain, which makes it harder for us to detect their distress. But while they can hide pain, they aren’t very good at hiding their symptoms which include excessive panting to reduce discomfort and stress.

Some other common signs that might indicate your dog is in pain include:

  • Limping or difficulty walking
  • Excessive whining
  • Lethargy or reluctance to play
  • Refusing to eat or drink water
  • Aggression or irritability

What should you do?

If there aren’t any noticeable signs of injury, you probably won’t be able to determine the cause of your dog’s pain. They might have some internal injury, dental problems, infections, or digestive issues. The pain can also be a sign of other health problems like arthritis or pancreatitis.

Therefore, the best course of action in such situations is to consult with a veterinarian. They’ll help you identify the root cause of your dog's pain and provide them relief. 

How to avoid this situation?

It won’t be possible to prevent pain in dogs, especially if it’s caused due to another health problem. But it is recommended you take the following precautions to avoid something unexpected:

  • Keep your dog away from toxic substances and sharp objects that can cause poisoning or injury
  • Keep an eye on them when they are running and playing in the park
  • Give them proper nutrition, help them maintain a healthy weight, and practice good dental hygiene 
  • Schedule regular veterinarian check-ups
4. Poisoning

Dogs have a curious nature, and they do tend to put random things in their mouths just to learn about the objects. If you aren’t careful, they might ingest something poisonous, like a toxic food ingredient, certain plants, or human medications. It can lead to poisoning, which can result in excessive panting.

But in almost every case of poisoning, your dog will exhibit other symptoms like:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Lack of appetite
  • Changes in skin or eye color
  • Loss of consciousness

What should you do?

If you suspect your dog has been exposed to something poisonous, you should act promptly. Since you cannot be sure what caused the poisoning, you cannot predict how it will affect your dog. It can either lead to some minor digestive problems or a life-threatening complication.

The first course of action should be to either call your veterinarian or the animal poison control helpline. They’ll guide you on how to proceed depending on your dog’s condition.

How to avoid this situation?

Below are a few things you can do to help prevent your dog from getting exposed to something poisonous or toxic.

  • Keeping your medicines and household cleaning supplies locked safely
  • Keep your dog away from food items that can be harmful to them, such as onions, chocolate, grapes, and raisins
  • Secure the trash cans properly
  • When you’re on a walk, don’t allow your dog to sniff or eat unknown or toxic plants
5. Diseases & Medication

Various medical conditions, including heart disease and respiratory problems, and medications like steroids and painkillers can also cause dogs to pant excessively. If your dog is experiencing this symptom from their medication, you can talk to your veterinarian to adjust their medications to provide them relief.

But if their disease isn’t yet diagnosed, you should get them examined by a veterinarian to find the underlying cause of the excessive panting.

When to Call Your Vet?

Panting is normal for dogs, especially when they’re hot or excited. But if there is excessive panting, it can be a sign of an underlying problem. 

We’d recommend you call your veterinarian if:

  • The panting continues to get more and more intense
  • You notice any visible signs of pain and discomfort
  • There’re any signs of a heatstroke
  • Your dog is refusing to eat or drink water
  • There’re any sudden behavior changes like aggression or irritability 

Summing Up

There can be a number of reasons why your dog is panting at night. It can happen due to something small, like a bad dream, but it can also happen due to heatstroke or an underlying medical condition. You should be attentive and look out for additional symptoms that might indicate a bigger problem.

Furthermore, we recommend you consult with your veterinarian to understand what’s happening. This will not only help you prevent any unforeseen situations but also provide the fastest relief to your little pup.


Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about why dogs pant at night:

1. Why is my dog panting at night?

Panting is normal for dogs, but excessive panting at night can be a cause of concern. It can happen due to a variety of reasons, including overheating, excitement, anxiety, stress, pain, or a medical condition. You should consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of your dog’s excessive panting.

2. Should I take my dog to a veterinarian if they’re panting at night?

Excessive panting can be due to a number of reasons, including anxiety and stress. You can try to calm your dog by providing them some water and taking them to a more comfortable place in your home. But if their panting continues, you should take them to a veterinarian.

Additionally, if your dog is showing other symptoms like fever, refusing to eat or drink, lethargy, or even aggression, you should call your veterinarian immediately.

3. How to calm a dog panting at night?

How you approach the situation will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your dog. If they’re panting without any other symptoms, they might be anxious or stressed about something, and you should make them feel safe and secure.

Whereas if they’re panting with visible signs of discomfort and pain, you should take them to a veterinarian to seek proper treatment.

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