While it is normal for dogs to pant after exercising heavily or being outside on a hot day, if your pup is excessively panting at night, it could be a sign of an underlying issue. In this post, our Redmond vets talk about nighttime panting in dogs and when you should bring your furry friend to the vet.
While humans sweat to cool down, it's normal for dogs to pant to regulate their body temperature. However, nighttime panting is a different matter - especially when there is no obvious reason for the dog's distress.
Why Is My Dog Panting Excessively?
There are various situations where it is normal for dogs to pant, such as after a long walk in humid weather, an energetic play session, or excitement. Panting and restless behavior (e.g. pacing) in mild or ideal weather conditions or during the night when it is cooler may be a sign of a more serious issue. Some of the potential reasons for excessive panting could include:
- Cushing’s Disease. This is when the bloodstream has a buildup of too much cortisol. In addition to panting, other symptoms of Cushing's Disease in dogs include an increase in thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, hair loss, and a pot-bellied appearance. This condition is fairly common in senior dogs and is often a reason for abnormally heavy panting.
- Respiratory disease. Respiratory issues impact your dog's ability to breathe, making it hard for them to receive the oxygen their bloodstream needs to carry throughout their body. A dog with respiratory issues might pant heavily or struggle to breathe after only participating in light exercise. If you notice your canine companion's tongue is no longer a healthy pink but instead blue, purple, or grey, bring them to the vet straight away for treatment; your dog could be experiencing oxygen deprivation.
- Heart disease. Excessive panting and coughing can be a symptom of heart disease or failure, which can have a major impact on your dog's ability to breathe. In these cases, you may notice your dog panting heavily after walking for a short distance.
- Heatstroke. Heatstroke in dogs is a serious issue and can be fatal if it goes untreated. Heatstroke in dogs is more likely in temperatures over 106°F (41°C) and causes heavy panting, which leads to dehydration. High temperatures are especially hard on short-nosed breeds like pugs, but you must never leave a dog of any breed alone in a car in warm weather, as they can overheat or suffer from heatstroke quickly.
Why Is My Dog Panting So Much At Night?
Here are some other common causes of panting and restlessness in dogs at night:
- Stress or anxiety. This can be caused by upsetting events like loud thunderstorms or fireworks, or issues such as separation anxiety.
- 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 I Bring My Dog To The Vet For Panting?
If your pup displays any symptoms of excessive nighttime panting, pacing, or other anxious behaviors contact your vet to find out if your pup should be brought in for an examination. If you notice your pet exhibiting any signs of heatstroke, take them to the vet or an after-hours emergency veterinary hospital as quickly as possible for urgent care. Your veterinarian will examine your pup, conduct any necessary diagnostic and treatment procedures, and work with you to help your dog feel as well as possible.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.