Why Is My Dog Panting and Restless At Night – Possible Causes

Asking yourself why is my dog panting and restless at night?

basset hound panting

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Most of the time, a dog panting is normal canine behavior, and it is one of the ways your dog controls his/her body temperature.

Something more is going on if abnormal panting without an obvious reason is what you see. Below are possible reasons why your dog might be panting and restless at night.

While you did yard work, your dog played around the yard and took a nap in the shade. He is panting when you get ready for bed.

Is he fired up? Is it hot? Is this Thirsty? The house is peaceful and quiet. The temperature reads seventy degrees. His bowl is full of water. You help him get ready for the night.

He is pacing the floors when the lights are out. He’s restless and he’s panting again. This sound like something you have faced? 

Most senior dog owners find any change in their dog’s normal behavior worrisome. Most of the time your instincts are correct.

It is important to trust your first instincts and dig deeper to find out what is happening with your dog. If an office visit and exam are necessary, it starts with a call to your vet. 

And if your dog is restless, panting, pacing, or just seems out-of-sorts then check out these common reasons to see if any of your dog’s behaviors line up with one of these concerning causes.

Possible Causes Why Your Dog May Be Panting and Restless

Don’t forget, dogs don’t sweat to dissipate excess heat. They pant instead. Panting is the main way they regulate their body temperature.

In this process, evaporative cooling occurs, which cools your dog by releasing water vapor through its mouth, nose, and ears.  

But when a dog is restless, panting, and pacing it may have something else going on that needs to be looked into.

Check out these possible causes. 

Fear and Anxiety:

Many of us may be familiar with the fact that dogs can express their emotions in different ways, but we don’t know how they express it. They can make sounds, show signs or even cry when they are sad or scared. 

Dogs experience fear and anxiety just as you and I do. Dog’s responses to unpleasant sights and sounds can be dramatic.

Many dogs run and look for a safe place to hide because of loud noises. For example, this is normally the issue with dogs and fireworks.

Some dogs show more subtle signs, like panting pacing, or frequent yawning, which can be difficult to treat without knowing what the cause is.

When you figure out what the cause is for your restless dog, the next step is to reduce or eliminate it. If you’ve ever been through a storm or fireworks with a dog who has a fear of them, your vet may recommend the use of prescription anti-anxiety medications. 

They may also recommend you use white noise to help reduce the noise sensitivity your dog is facing.

It could also be separation anxiety if your dog sleeps in a different area than you. If that is what it is, there are a few things you can do like placing an item of your clothing that you have worn in their bed.

You can also try starting out with their bed near yours and then each night start moving it farther away from you. Keep doing this until you have safely worked your anxious dog to the area you want them to sleep in.

Heart Disease:

If there are problems with your dog’s main organ system then excessive panting can be a symptom.

He may be breathing heavily or coughing occasionally after exercise or a walk. Oxygen is delivered to the rest of the body through the heart. If your dog’s heart can’t effectively pump, that means his body can not get enough oxygen that it needs.

Diseases such as valve disorders, heartworms, arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathies can affect the heart’s ability to do its job properly.

One of the reasons regular checkups are so important is your vet can listen to your dog’s chest, and often detect heart murmurs and arrhythmias and treat as needed. 

Chronic or Acute Pain:

Dogs who jump down from a deck or porch, and then start to limp are showing acute pain. Acute pain is normally more obvious as to where the pain is coming from.

A sign of pain that appears gradually includes restlessness, hiding, loss of appetite, and panting. Many dogs suffer from chronic pain, which is why it’s important to evaluate their symptoms.

The best way to evaluate their pain is to assess both their physical and behavioral response to their symptoms.

An increased heart rate and respiratory rate are two of the most important measures two keep an eye on when it comes to looking for pain in dogs.

The one thing that is very important to keep in mind even if you know the cause of the dog’s pain, is to never give your dog pain medications that are for people. Most are not safe for dogs.

Respiratory Disease:

Many older dogs are affected by respiratory disease. These diseases can cause a number of respiratory problems, including a cough that gets worse when your dog is excited.

For small-breed dogs, respiratory disorders normally affect the trachea, which causes it to narrow. You may notice when your dog gets worked up his cough may worsen.

For larger-breed dogs, the respiratory disease normally affects the larynx, which causes it to stiffen. This is called laryngeal paralysis or lar par.

A dog with laryngeal paralysis can have a roaring sound when he breathes. That is because it is hard for him to pant efficiently after even the lightest of exercise. This can result in his body temperatures being dangerously high. 


If your dog is panting, is restless, and is lacking in energy, he may be suffering from something called anemia.

Another sign is if he/she has pale-looking gums.

Anemia is caused by a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body. Many factors can contribute to anemia, including internal or external blood loss, cancer, and nutritional deficiencies just to name a few.

The good news is that most cases are treatable and the symptoms are very noticeable. If you suspect your dog has anemia you need to take him to the vet right away.

The veterinarian will do blood work, and may also suggest more specialized tests to confirm or rule out other possible causes for the panting.

In some cases, treatment will consist simply of prescribing antibiotics to treat an existing infection, or an immunosuppressant medication to treat immune-mediated anemia.

If the anemia is from an injury or hemorrhage, it may mean surgery.

It is important to know your dog well and take note when things are off. If his respiration rate stays too high for too long, he can suffer a shock to his system which can be fatal.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction:

Senior moments, such as getting lost in your home or forgetting why you came in the house are common signs of canine cognitive dysfunction also called canine cognitive disorder. These are the same symptoms you see in older humans in their senior years as well as senior dogs. 

If you notice your old dog pacing more than usual during the night, it could be Sundowner Syndrome is also known as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).

Symptoms include confusion, memory lapses, depression, and fatigue. There is no cure for sundowner syndrome, but there are treatments including prescription medications, nutritional supplementation, and strategies for behavior modification. 

If your dog has CCD, he may not always recognize you when you call his name, or he may run away from you or hide under furniture when he hears your voice.

As a result, he may be frightened of you. This can lead to a vicious cycle of fear and anxiety that makes things worse.

Over time, this can cause your dog to completely lose trust in you which can lead to aggression.

If this happens, it is very important that you seek professional help. There are many qualified veterinarians who specialize in treating pets with cognitive dysfunction.

They will be able to help your dog live a happier, healthier life.  

Cushing’s Disease:

When a person or dog has Cushing’s disease also known as Cushing’s syndrome, there is normally an overgrowth of cells (tumor) on the pituitary gland that causes the gland to constantly secrete excessive amounts of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). But there can be other causes as well.

As a result, the adrenals produce excessive amounts of cortisol. Too much cortisol affects many functions in the body, especially metabolism.

There are several reasons why your dog may be panting and restless. One of them is that he may have Cushing’s disease as heavy panting is one of the symptoms.

A few of the clinical signs include;

  • Excessive Panting
  • Increased Urination
  • Increased Thirst
  • Increased Appetite
  • Enlarged Abdomen

This is a treatable condition if caught early. It is very important that you have your dog checked on a regular basis.

Symptoms alone are not enough to detect Cushing’s disease, and a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (LDDST) or an ACTH stimulation test may be necessary to make a proper diagnosis.

If your dog is showing any of the signs of Cushing’s Disease, your vet will perform blood tests to determine whether your dog has the disease or not.

If your dog does have Cushing’s, your vet will design a treatment plan for you that may include medications, surgery or a combination of both. 


Dog heatstroke is very common during the summer months and it can be deadly. Heatstroke in dogs is basically a condition that happens when your dog’s body temperature rises too high and they suffer from severe dehydration.

What are the Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs?

There are a few symptoms that you can see in your dog, including excessive panting, a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, weakness, disorientation, unconsciousness, and muscle cramps.

If the condition is not treated right away, then it will lead to seizures, convulsions, and death.

If your dog is having a heat stroke, then you need to take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

You can also offer him fresh water. Another way to help cool your dog is to pour cool water (not ice cold) over your dog to help to start that temperature coming down as you are on the way to the vet.

How to Keep Your Dog Cool:

There are several ways that you can keep your dog nice and cool during those summer hot days. The most important thing to remember is to make sure that they are getting enough water and to make sure that they are drinking enough. It is also necessary to provide them with shade to help avoid those high temperatures.

During the summer, you should also make sure that your dog has access to fresh air. You can place a fan or window fan in their room to help them feel more comfortable.


Is your dog taking any type of medication for any health problems? If your dog takes any medication for any medical conditions you may want to ask the vet if that prescription has side effects.

Some medications have known side effects such as restlessness and heavy panting and mat account for your dog’s behavior. 


In conclusion, there may be no need to worry if your dog is panting or restless. However, it is outside the normal behavior of your dog then there are several main common causes why your dog may be restless and panting at night.

These include fear and anxiety, Cushing’s disease, canine cognitive dysfunction, anemia, respiratory disease, pain, and heart disease, heatstroke, and medications are the ones we talked about.

Once you discover the reason behind his nighttime panting and restlessness, you can take the appropriate action to find the right treatment options to help your dog.

The main takeaway is to know your dog’s body language well. Just as people parents have to know their kid’s pet parents need to know their pets. They are able to tell us that they may have an underlying problem if we just take the time to listen.

That way when you see the first signs something is wrong you can take the steps needed.

If your dog is suffering from night-time panting or restlessness, please don’t hesitate to contact your vet today.

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