Have you noticed your dog panting or becoming more restless at night lately? You might understandably be feeling some concern. In this post, our Boulder and Westminster vets list dangerous and non-dangerous reasons your dog might be panting at night, as well as causes of panting at night and when to visit your veterinarian. 

Humans sweat to regulate their body temperature, whereas dogs do not have this capability. They pant instead. However, if your pup is panting at night without an obvious reason, it can be concerning.

Dog Panting at Night

Dog panting is often not a cause for alarm. When playing with enthusiasm, going for a lengthy stroll in hot and humid conditions, or feeling a sense of excitement, panting is a way for them to regulate their body temperature. But if your dog continues to pant and show signs of restlessness, such as pacing, even in optimal or mild weather conditions, or after it has cooled down at night, it may indicate a more significant health issue. Excessive panting can be caused by a variety of factors:

  • Heatstroke. Heatstroke in dogs is serious and may even become fatal if left untreated. The condition is more likely to occur in temperatures over 106°F (41°C) . Dogs suffering from heatstroke may pant heavily, which can lead to dehydration. Short-nosed breeds like pugs do especially poorly in the heat, but you must never leave a dog of any breed alone in a car in warm weather, since they can overheat or quickly take a turn for the worse. 
  • Cushing's Disease. Cushing's Disease can develop in dogs when there is an excessive accumulation of cortisol in the bloodstream. Common symptoms of the condition include experiencing a greater sense of hunger and thirst, noticeable hair loss, frequent urination, and a distinct pot-bellied appearance. Senior dogs frequently experience this issue, which is often identified as the underlying reason for their abnormal, heavy panting. Restlessness and panting at night in dogs may have a simple explanation.
  • 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. Your dog may experience difficulty breathing due to respiratory issues, which can hinder their ability to take in the necessary oxygen for their bloodstream to circulate throughout their body. If your dog is experiencing respiratory problems, heavy panting or difficulty breathing may occur even after mild exercise. If you see that your beloved furry companion's tongue has changed color from a healthy pink to blue, grey, or purple, it is crucial to promptly bring them to the vet for immediate treatment. This change in tongue color could indicate that your dog is suffering from oxygen deprivation.

Why is my dog panting so much at night?

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

  • Stress or anxiety. This can be caused by upsetting events like loud thunderstorms or fireworks, or 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 pants or paces excessively at night, or exhibits other anxious behaviors, get in touch with your vet to find out whether your dog should be seen by them. If you spot any signs of heatstroke in your dog, immediately take them for urgent veterinary care during clinic hours, or treatment after hours at a nearby emergency veterinary hospital. Your veterinarian will examine your canine companion, perform any necessary diagnostic and treatment procedures, and work with you to help your dog feel better 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.

Are you concerned that your dog is panting excessively at night? Contact our Boulder and Westminster animal hospital today to book an appointment. We can provide advice, treatment options, and 24-hour emergency services.