Though dogs often pant when out playing on a warm day or while they are playing fetch, excessive panting at night may be happening due to an underlying health issue. Here, our Glendale vets discuss symptoms and treatments. We also offer advice on when to schedule a checkup. 

Just as sweating is normal for humans, panting is a completely normal bodily process for dogs; it is an effective way for them to regulate their body temperature. However, if your dog is panting at night, this is a different matter – especially when there is no obvious reason for your dog to be in distress. 

Why is my dog panting so much?

Many circumstances that may cause your dog to pant aren't anything to be alarmed about. For example, if you've just taken your dog for a walk in humid weather, engaged in boisterous play session, or watched them become excited while playing with a ball or four-legged friend, their breathing should calm soon without incident. 

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

  • Heatstroke – This serious issue can arise quickly and turn fatal if left untreated. Dogs are more at risk for heatstroke once temperatures rise above 106°F (41°C). This condition can cause heavy panting, which leads to dehydration. While high temperatures are especially challenging for short-nosed breeds like pugs, you must never leave a dog of any breed alone in a car on a warm-weather day, as heatstroke can happen within minutes. 
  • Heart Disease – Excessive panting and coughing may be symptoms of heart disease or hear failure, conditions that can have severe negative impacts on 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. 
  • Cushing's Disease – If too much cortisol accumulates in the bloodstream, your dog may develop Cushing's disease. In addition to panting, other symptoms of Cushing's disease include an increased in hunger and thirst, hair loss, frequent urination, and a pot-bellied appearance. This issue is commonly seen in senior 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. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.

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