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Why Is My Dog Panting At Night?

While panting during a warm day or while playing fetch is normal for dogs, excessive panting at night can be cause for concern. Besides causing sleepless nights for you and your dog, nighttime panting can be an indication that something is amiss. Today, our Mahopac vets will discuss signs, treatments, and when to go to the vet.

Like sweating in humans, panting is a completely normal bodily process for dogs, and it serves as an effective way to regulate their body temperature. Panting at night, however, is a different matter - especially when there is no obvious reason for the dog's distress.

Why is my dog panting so much at night?

It's important to note that there are several situations where your dog panting is normal, such as after a long walk in humid weather, during an energetic play session, or when they're excited. However, if your dog is panting excessively and displaying restless behavior, like pacing in mild or cool weather or during the night, it could indicate a more serious issue. Some potential reasons for excessive panting include:

  • Cushing’s Disease occurs when too much cortisol builds up in the bloodstream. Along with panting, other symptoms of Cushing's Disease in dogs include increased thirst, hunger, frequent urination, hair loss, and a pot-bellied appearance. This issue is commonly seen in senior dogs and is often one of the reasons for abnormal 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 even light exercise. If you notice your canine companion's tongue is no longer a healthy pink but instead blue, purple, or grey, head to the vet immediately for treatment; your dog may be experiencing oxygen deprivation.
  • Heart disease. Excessive panting and coughing can be a symptom of heart disease or failure, which can majorly impact 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 have fatal consequences if left 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 and restless at night?

Below are some other common causes of panting and restlessness in dogs during the night:

  • Stress or anxiety. Upsetting events like loud thunderstorms or fireworks, or issues like separation anxiety can cause this.
  • 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 shows signs of excessive nighttime panting, pacing, or other anxious behaviors, contact your vet to determine if your dog needs to be seen. If you notice any signs of heatstroke in your dog, take them to the vet for urgent care during clinic hours or to a nearby emergency veterinary hospital after hours. Your vet will examine your dog, perform any necessary diagnostic and treatment procedures, and work with you to help your dog feel better both today and tomorrow.

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.

Concerned that your dog is excessively panting at night? Feel free to contact our veterinary team in Mahopac for information and treatment options.

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