Why is My Dog Excessively Panting at Night? How to Stop?

Why is My Dog Excessively Panting at Night? How to Stop?

Last Updated on September, 2022

Panting is a perfectly normal and natural bodily process in dogs. 

But have you ever wondered why your dog is panting heavily in the middle of the night for no reason?

If yes, you have landed in the correct place to find the answers.

In this article, you will learn EVERYTHING about dog panting at night, the causes for excessive panting, and how to stop it.

So, let’s dive right in!

Quick Summary

Panting is a normal and natural bodily process in dogs, and is the key mechanism that regulates dogs’ body heat and cools them down.

Excessive panting at night can signify something serious, and can be caused by various factors including heatstroke, allergic reactions, and respiratory problems.

If you notice your dog excessively panting at night, you should call the vet as soon as possible.

Why Do Dogs Pant?

panting dog lying on the ground

Panting is the key mechanism that regulates dogs’ body heat and cools them down. Therefore, heat exchange is the main reason for dog panting.

Like humans sweat, dogs breathe in the air quickly, creating a cooling effect.

Since dogs do not have sweat glands, they pant to let the heat out of their bodies. During this process, dogs exchange hot air for cool air. 

So, panting is a great way to release body heat.

However, some reasons for panting are not related to cooling down. And some reasons are problematic and dangerous, while some are not.

So first, let’s check out the common causes of dog panting.

What are the Reasons for Dog Panting?

Although some reasons for dog panting are less worrying, they can make your pooch MISERABLE and UNHAPPY. 

Therefore, you have to be more cautious about these causes to ensure your pet is not depressed.

So, let’s look into the non-dangerous reasons for dog panting.

Stress

Just like humans, dogs also experience stress.

Stress is a major reason that makes dogs pant and restless.

In most cases, dogs show signs of stress and fear through panting. And whenever dogs get stressed, panting makes them relieved and relaxed. 

Symptoms of a stressed dog may also include whining and repetitive yawning.

a dog lying on the floor

Moreover, stressful situations such as an unhappy home environment, new environment and life change, or having a new owner can make dogs really STRESSED OUT!

Also, loud noises like thunderstorms and fireworks can induce stress in your furry friend and give them sleepless nights.

Anxiety

Another main reason for your pooch to be panting is anxiety.

When dogs are anxious, they become restless and keep panting throughout the night.

Changes in a dog’s environment can make them anxious. For instance, being separated from their loving owners can give them separation anxiety

Because of this reason, dogs may pant heavily during the night.

I know, it sounds TERRIBLE, right?

Moreover, a dog’s age is an important factor that triggers anxiety. Older dogs are more likely to suffer from anxiety.

As dogs age, they go through a lot of physical and mental changes. This can disturb adult dogs’ sleep cycles and cause anxiety.

Genetics

Did you know that the specific physiology of dogs, like facial structures, can cause them to pant more?

Genetic predisposition in some dog breeds makes them pant more than other dogs. As a result, these dog breeds are more prone to have breathing problems.

They include Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Pekingese, and Boston Terriers. 

Genetics of the dog

So, if your pooch is one of these breeds, panting at night may not be a serious issue sometimes.

The above-mentioned dog breeds have flat faces and short noses. It leads to more panting due to their brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). (1)

Also, their shape of the head, shorter muzzle, throat, and air passage make it more difficult for them to breathe. 

On the other hand, dog breeds like Labradors and Golden Retrievers may suffer from a condition called laryngeal paralysis

This condition does not allow the vocal cords to open wide enough. As a result, the airflow gets affected, creating an abrasive sound.

Well, now you know about the common causes of dog panting.

Next, let’s check out the causes of excessive dog panting at night.

What are the Reasons for Dog Panting Excessively at Night?

Did you know that nighttime panting is different from daytime panting?

It can prevent your pooch from having a good night’s sleep. OH NO!

Excessive panting and restless behavior at night can signify something SERIOUS.

In most cases, heavy panting at night indicates dangerous health problems. So, dog owners should be attentive to the possible causes of panting at night. 

And if you notice abnormal panting at night, you should CALL THE VET as soon as possible.

So, here are the reasons for excessive dog panting at night.

Related article: How to Stop Puppies From Whining?

Heatstroke

Many puppies and adult dogs find it difficult to deal with high nighttime temperatures.

For instance, temperatures over 106°F (41°C) lead to heavy panting in dogs. As a result, it may cause dehydration.

So, you should be more cautious about your pooch on hot days.

Heatstroke is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. And if it is left untreated, it can even cause death.

a dog taking a bath

You may notice abnormal panting and heavy breathing if your dog suffers heat stroke.

Other symptoms include:

  • High body temperature
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Glazed eyes
  • Dark red tongue and gums
  • Laying flat

Moreover, short-nosed breeds such as bulldogs and pugs are more likely to suffer from heatstroke.

Allergic Reactions

Your dog’s panting at night may occur due to an allergic reaction.

Unfortunately, it is hard to determine the allergen that caused the allergy. Several foods, flowers, grass, insect bites, and even medications can cause allergies in dogs.

For example, medications like prednisone and steroids can cause heavy panting in dogs.

Symptoms of allergic reactions include:

a dog sitting on the floor and scratching the face
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting 
  • Lethargy

Pain

Sadly, dogs are freaking good at hiding their pain. So, it may be difficult for pet parents to discover that their dogs are in pain.

But, dogs experiencing pain may have an increased heart rate, enhanced respiratory rate, and heavy panting at night.

And the factors that may cause pain in dogs include internal illnesses and external problems like hurting a paw.

LISTEN!

Dog owners should be cautious about the signs of pain, such as:

  • Reluctance to move
  • Excessive panting
  • Limping
  • Avoidance when you try to touch an area on dog’s body

So, if you notice that your pooch is in pain, you should consult the vet immediately.

Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s disease is a common reason for dog panting at night. And this disease causes abnormal panting.

The disease occurs when the adrenal glands secrete too much cortisol into the bloodstream. Cortisol is the stress hormone that triggers stress in many animals.

And the causes for Cushing’s disease are:

a dog with Cushing’s Disease on the table
  • A tumor in the pituitary or adrenal gland
  • Long-term use of corticosteroid drugs

Moreover, older dogs are more likely to suffer from Cushing’s disease.

Apart from excessive panting, other symptoms of Cushing’s disease are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Excess weight
  • Pot bellied appearance
  • Skin infections
  • Hair loss
  • Lethargy
  • Increased urination

Respiratory Problems

When a dog has a respiratory disease like pneumonia, it disturbs the dog’s breathing.

As a result, it is difficult for them to receive enough oxygen into their bloodstream. Because of that, dogs may struggle to breathe. And it will lead to abnormal and heavy panting. 

Jeez! That’s horrifying!

If your pooch’s tongue has turned blue, gray, or purple, it may indicate he is not receiving enough oxygen.

veterinarians checking a dog's heart beat

If you notice this sign, contact the vet at once.

Respiratory problems can be LIFE-THREATENING!

And the other symptoms of respiratory issues include:

  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Inflammation
  • Lethargy

Canine Cognitive Disorder (Dog Dementia)

Dogs with cognitive dysfunction exhibit excessive nighttime panting and disturbed sleep-wake cycle.

Adult dogs are more prone to dog dementia. And I am sorry to break it to you. These dogs may forget their surroundings and roam around the house at night.

Moreover, this may make many dogs anxious and stressed too.

Dog dementia affects the brain and memory. Due to that reason, dogs’ may display abnormal behavior.

So, you should be CAUTIOUS about the above-mentioned factors.

Heart Disease

Your dog’s heavy panting at night may occur due to heart failure or heart-related issues.

It becomes tough to catch their breath if dogs suffer from heart disease. As a result, they may exhibit abnormal panting.

Even when they are resting, they may struggle to breathe.

Now that is TERRIFYING!

a human pressing a dog's chest

Moreover, other signs of heart disease include rapid breathing, coughing, excessive tiredness, and weakness.

Related Article: Heart Murmur in Dogs

Obesity

Another reason why your dog pants excessively may be due to obesity. 

You should pay special ATTENTION if your dog is overweight. Just like humans, being overweight leads to more serious illnesses like arthritis, heart problems, and joint issues.

Moreover, obesity can even reduce a dog’s lifespan.

Obesity causes dogs to pant heavily. This is because overweight dogs need more effort to do everyday activities. 

Accordingly, they will have increased heart rate, making them pant more.

So, a dog’s diet plays an important role in this case. You should feed your pooch a well-balanced diet and exercise them daily.

If you are not sure if your dog’s weight is healthy or not, you can check with your vet. Then, the vet will give a proper diet plan to maintain your dog’s weight.

Anemia

Did you know that anemia is another reason for your dog to start panting at night?

Anemia develops when red blood cells are insufficient to carry oxygen to the organs of the dog’s body.

When the organs lack oxygen, they will not function properly.

Moreover, the causes of anemia are as follows:

a dog lying on the bed
  • Blood lose
  • Parasites
  • Poisoning
  • Illnesses

Aside from excessive panting, anemic dogs look tired and have light-colored gums.

How to Identify Excessive Dog Panting?

Checking your dog’s breathing rate is the best way to notice excessive panting.

To do that, you should be aware of the average breathing rate of a dog. When resting, the average breathing rate is between 10 to 40 breaths per minute.

However, seek medical advice if you are doubtful about your pooch’s panting.

How to Stop Dog Panting at Night?

ways to stop dog's panting at night

You can do various things to reduce and stop dog panting at night. But, it depends on the reason why your dog pants. 

First, you have to identify what’s causing your pet’s excessive panting. If you can identify the specific reason, you can take the necessary actions.

Are you ready to learn them? Let’s go!

So, here are some important tips to control your pooch’s abnormal panting.

If your dog pants heavily due to hot weather, you can:

  • Give your pup some water.
  • Keep the dog inside a cool room with better ventilation. If possible, turn on the air conditioner.
  • Use a wet cloth to cool down your dog.
  • If it is severe, call the vet quickly.

You can try the following things if your dog suffers from stress or anxiety:

  • Create a happy, safe, calm, and friendly environment.
  • Say kind and gentle words.
  • Give your dog a massage.
  • Spend more time with your dog.
  • Feed your pet delicious food.
  • Let them play with their favorite mentally stimulating toys. Allow them to get some good exercise and stimulation.
  • Consider giving them supplements such as CBD oil.

When to See the Vet?

a dog with veterinarian

You should NEVER FORGET that excessive panting can be a sign of something serious.

In case you notice that your dog is in pain, has a fever, or anything risky, please DO NOT LEAVE your pet untreated. 

Make sure to visit the vet as soon as possible, if:

  • Panting becomes excessive.
  • There are warning signs of heatstroke.
  • You suspect your pet’s panting is related to something serious like respiratory problems, heart disease, anemia, or cognitive disorder.
  • There is an injury causing the panting.
  • Your dog’s tongue has turned blue, gray, or purple.
  • Panting without reason.

FAQs

If your dog is panting fast while resting, it may be a sign of:

  • Pain or injury
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Obesity
  • Anemia

A panting dog may take 300 to 400 breaths per minute. And this is ten times more than the average breathing rate.

But if you suspect abnormal panting in your dog, contact your vet straight away.

It may be due to a sinus infection or illness of the lungs, bronchial tubes, larynx, or trachea.

Conclusion

Panting is a natural process of dogs. But excessive panting, especially at night, can be related to something dangerous.

Heavy panting at night requires immediate attention and treatment. And pet parents can do several things to control their dog’s panting.

However, visiting the vet is always the best decision when a dog exhibits abnormal panting. 

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Author
Thomas
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

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