Have you been observing your dog panting or being more restless at night recently? It's natural to feel worried in such a situation. In this post, our vets in Seattle have compiled a list of dangerous and non-dangerous causes of your dog's panting at night.

Humans regulate their body temperature by sweating, while dogs pant to cool down. It can be concerning if your dog is panting at night without an obvious reason.

Dog Panting at Night

It's normal for dogs to pant when they're playing, walking in hot and humid weather, or feeling excited. Panting helps them regulate their body temperature. However, if your dog keeps panting and seems restless, even when the weather is mild or after they have cooled down at night, it could mean they have a health problem. There are various reasons why dogs may pant excessively:

  • Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a severe condition in dogs that can even become fatal if not treated promptly. Dogs are more likely to suffer heatstroke when temperatures are over 106°F (41°C). Heatstroke can cause a dog to pant heavily, which can lead to dehydration. Breeds with short noses, such as pugs, are particularly susceptible to heatstroke. It is important to never leave a dog of any breed alone in a car during warm weather since they can overheat quickly, which may result in dire consequences.
  • Cushing's Disease. Cushing's Disease is a medical condition that can affect dogs when there is an excessive accumulation of cortisol in their bloodstream. Some common symptoms of this condition include increased appetite and thirst, noticeable hair loss, frequent urination, and a distinct pot-bellied appearance. Senior dogs are more prone to develop this issue, which can be the underlying reason for their abnormal and heavy panting. Restlessness and panting at night in dogs may be caused by this condition as well.
  • Heart disease. Heart failure or disease may cause excessive panting and coughing and can have a major impact on your dog's ability to breathe. In these cases, you might see your dog panting heavily after walking just a short distance. 
  • Respiratory disease. Dogs can go through respiratory issues that can make it hard for them to breathe properly, which in turn can affect the flow of oxygen in their bloodstream. If your dog struggles with respiratory problems, they may pant heavily or find breathing difficult even after mild exercise. If you notice that your dog's tongue has turned blue, grey, or purple instead of its normal pink color, it is crucial to take them to the vet immediately. This change in tongue color can indicate that your dog is not getting enough oxygen, which needs immediate attention from a vet.

Why is my dog panting so much at night?

Here are some common reasons why dogs pant and become restless at night:

  • Stress or anxiety.  Causes of this behavior can include upsetting events such as loud thunderstorms or fireworks, as well as issues like 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 my dog see a vet?

If your dog is panting or pacing excessively at night or displaying other anxious behaviors, it is advisable to consult your veterinarian to determine if a visit is necessary. If you notice any signs of heatstroke in your dog, it is essential to take them for urgent veterinary care during clinic hours or seek treatment after hours at a nearby emergency veterinary hospital. Your veterinarian will examine your dog, perform necessary diagnostic and treatment procedures, and collaborate with you to help your dog feel better today and in the future. and in the future.

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.

Are you concerned that your dog is panting excessively at night? Contact our Seattle animal hospital today to book for a consultation.