A dog panting and restless at any time of the day is a classic sign of anxiety. If you have a happy-go-lucky dog for most of the time, then the panting and restlessness could be a sign of something more serious such as pain from issues such as congestive heart failure, laryngeal paralysis, Cushing’s disease, and more. However, these issues are rarely the case, so don’t panic just yet. We’re going to take a deep dive into why a dog is panting and restless and what health problems could be the cause.
Dogs Pant and It’s Normal
Dogs pant, and it’s not anything out of the ordinary. Dogs can pant when the weather is too hot when they are really excited or they are in pain. You will see panting dogs left and right when it’s summertime. Dogs don’t sweat like we do, they lack the sweat glands but can sweat a bit through their paws to help regulate their body temperature and prevent heat exhaustion. However, that often isn’t enough to expel heat as quickly, which could result in a dog panting heavily. If the heat is the culprit for panting, know that it’s normal for dogs.
To determine if excessive panting is something to see your veterinarian about, you need to take into account other factors and symptoms that surround the heavy panting. Sometimes there could be multiple reasons for panting, which we will explore in the next section.
Why is My Dog Panting?
If it’s just regular dog panting, there is a lot less to worry about compared to panting and restlessness together. You may also notice your dog pacing frantically, which can also be an indicator that something isn’t right. If there is pacing, then it’s relatively safer to say there is no pain. Usually, when a dog is in pain, he will be more likely to lay still and not move rather than pace around the house.
However, a dog in pain can show restlessness in a stationary position as they are struggling to find a comfortable way to sit, stand or lay.
Panting and restlessness are classic signs of an anxious dog. They can be agitated by noise, the environment, maybe something they smell sets them off, or just plain separation anxiety. Depending on the dog, one that’s panting and restless due to anxiety might also display other symptoms such as trembling, whining, barking, and sometimes even incontinence.
From what we have experienced, an anxious dog will also often turn to its owners for comfort. You may find your dog putting his paws on you while panting and restless and want your protection from whatever is agitating them. Most of these reasons for dog panting and restlessness happens throughout the day, but what happens when it most often occurs during the night?
Dog Panting at Night
If dog panting is happening mostly at night, then it could be an indication of canine cognitive disorder, which we will go into more detail about later. This is more prevalent in older senior dogs, and it messes with your dog’s sleep cycle. They may be getting up and panting in the middle of the night, struggling to fall asleep or even start pacing around the room. These dogs are also hyper-sensitive to any noise or potential disturbances, especially at night when the house is quiet. If this sounds like your dog, then consult your veterinarian for sedatives or calming medications.
A more serious issue that follows excessive panting is heart disease in dogs. When the health problem is cardiovascular, there are often other indicating factors that accompany the panting such as coughing and a lack of energy and stamina, even after a short walk. To put it simply, you will notice a decrease in your dog’s vitality.
What type of heart problems could it be? Unfortunately, there are a wide range of issues that could be the cause of heart disease, dog panting, and restless behavior including valve disorders and arrhythmias.
Canine Cognitive Disorder
Canine Cognitive Disorder or Dysfunction also referred to as CCD, is a major issue that plagues older dogs. It is likened to the symptoms of dementia in your pet, which is what CCD is a part of. As your dog ages, there will be chemical changes in his brain that affect his behavior. Their cognitive, motor, and memory functions will gradually start to fail, and what’s even more saddening is there isn’t a cure for this.
The symptoms of CCD and canine dementia in a pet are very similar to those in humans. Your dog will become confused, anxious, scared, wary, and extra sensitive to triggers. Their sleep cycles will be disrupted and you will end up with a panting and restless dog.
A collapsed trachea, which is prevalent in certain breeds is an example of a respiratory issue that gives your dogs trouble breathing. Most commonly seen in small-breed dogs, a collapsed trachea will result in a dog’s excessive panting and coughing. There are a host of other respiratory diseases such as laryngeal paralysis that can also manifest itself in the form of panting and restlessness. There will usually be other symptoms involved when diagnosing respiratory problems, so check with your veterinarian to be sure.
Another possibility is Cushing’s Disease, which is caused by elevated amounts of cortisol in the bloodstream. There could be a variety of causes for this disease, so the best way to determine what those are for your dog is to ask your trusted veterinarian. When you see your dog is panting, that isn’t enough to diagnose it as Cushing’s. This disease is often accompanied by excessive thirst, which increases the water intake that leads to more urination. Your dog will also exhibit a plump and pot-bellied appearance.
Cushing’s Disease mostly affects older dogs and can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Check with your vet if you suspect your dog is a victim of Cushing’s.
Another more serious issue for a panting and restless dog is anemia. Anemia in dogs is similar to anemia in humans, and it’s when we don’t have enough red blood cells in our bodies. Without enough red blood cells, our organs and bodies won’t get enough oxygen, and the same is true for your dogs. When their brain and organs aren’t getting enough blood, the issue will manifest through panting and restlessness.
A very simple explanation could be acute or general pain your dog is experiencing. Unlike humans who may groan or even howl from pain, a dog shows us his discomfort through panting. If your dog has recently gone through an injury and is recovering from a wound, the dog panting and restless behavior are a normal part of the recuperation process.
There can be a variety of reasons why your dog is in pain, if there are no visible injuries on the surface, the pain could be a clue for an underlying condition. If you see your dog panting and restless for an extended period and don’t know the cause is, then it’s time for a vet check.
Anxiety and Fear
Lastly, and perhaps the most common reason why your dog is panting and restless aside from body temperature factors is anxiety and fear. The basis for your dog’s anxiety and fear is numerous ranging from their natural personality to a traumatic event that they survived. It could also be because they are the clingy type of dog that needs to be in your presence at all times. The fear and anxiety can also be short-lived, stemming from something temporary such as loud noises.
Behavioral problems such as these can be hard to treat and take a ton of patience, but it can be done. However, treatment can’t start unless the root cause has been identified. This is when a veterinarian plus a professional dog trainer or behavioral expert come into the picture.
What to Do if My Dog Is Panting and Restless?
Behavioral issues need to be corrected with the help of a professional, but before you can do so, you will need to visit the vet, consult with a professional dog behavior specialist and/or trainer to create a training routine.
If you notice a change in your dog’s behavior and he is pacing, panting, and more restless than usual yet there are no physical indicators as to why then it’s time to see the vet.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you calm a dog from panting?
You can calm a dog down from panting if you identify the reason. If your dog is panting due to fear and anxiety, you can rectify the problem by comforting them. More often than not, the dog will turn to you for reassurance and you can take the opportunity to calm them with soothing words and by stroking their fur.
Why is my old dog panting and restless at night?
An old dog is panting and restless at night most likely due to CCD, or Canine Cognitive Disorder. This is seen in dogs who have an onset of dementia, which irregulates their brain chemicals and results in forgetfulness, confusion, and hyper-sensitivity among other symptoms. You may see your senior dog suffer from sleep disturbance, get up in the middle of the night, pace around the house, and bark excessively.
Why do dogs pant?
Dogs pant for a variety of reasons, most commonly due to heat, fear, and anxiety. Other reasons for panting may be due to adrenaline release in fight or flight mode, side effects to certain prescription medications, an increased heart rate, a lack of oxygen in the body, and more. If you suspect your dog is panting for a more serious reason, take your dog to the vet right away.
Do dogs pant when in pain?
Yes, dogs pant when in pain. Dogs cannot voice their pain the way we can, and some may whine or maybe even howl to some extent when the pain is severe, but a more common way for dogs to display pain is through panting. More obvious signs of physical trauma could be a limp, excessive licking of an open wound or even aggression.
When should I call my vet if my dog won’t stop panting?
Your vet is there to support you when you are concerned for your dog’s health. Any time you feel the panting and restlessness is abnormal and you cannot see a clear reason for them, then it’s time to consult your vet. It’s better to overreact than to underreact when it comes to your dog’s health.
Not every pant or pace is a cause for concern. The most important step to defining how to help your pooch is to determine the cause first. There are many reasons why a dog can pant and become restless, so the first step to take is to look for any physical indications. If you can’t see any, then make an appointment with your vet just to make sure everything is okay. After all, you want the best for your fur baby and their health is the most important thing.
Did You Know?
A dog can pant from excitement too, so don’t always attribute panting and restlessness to a negative cause. It could just be because your dog is extra excited to see you he can’t handle how ecstatic he is!
For dogs who pant due to excitement and ones that are triggered easily by outside factors, these behaviors can be rectified through a training routine.