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Why is My Dog Panting at Night?

Table of Contents

large black dog panting

From time to time, pretty much every dog pants. In cartoons it's the sign of a hungry dog, waiting for a comically sized piece of meat. In real life though, dogs pant for a variety of reasons. Most often, it's just to cool down. Although for a dog panting at night, anxiety might be the issue.


Why Do Dogs Pant?

There are a wide variety of reasons why a dog pants. In manysituations, a dog panting is absolutely nothing to worry about. However, there some situations where a panting dog can be a sign of stress, anguish, or even an underlying medical condition. These are some of the common causes for a dog sticking their tongue out and panting.

Heat Exchange

The main reason for a dog to pant is just to cool down. Nothing sinister or worrying, just a practical way of cooling.

Dogs have a very limited number of sweat glands, located only on their pawss. Therefore, they have to rely on different methods of cooling down. Panting is their best way of actually letting heat out of their bodies. This allows them to cool down by exchanging heated air for cool air.

If the weather is particularly hot, this might be why your dog is panting.

Stress

Stress can manifest itself in many ways, both in humans and in dogs. One of the ways that our pets can calm down while stressed is through panting. Dogs might end up gasping for breath if they’re feeling particularly stressed about something.

Other symptoms of stress are shedding, hiding or attempting to escape, and avoiding people or situations. If your dog is demonstrating these symptoms and panting, stress might be the cause.

Anxiety

If you’re wondering why your dog is panting at night, anxiety might be the answer. An anxious dog will often seem stressed and nervous. This includes pacing, repositioning themselves, and panting. 


Why is My Dog Panting at Night?

Black curly-haired dog in a dark room watching TV

Panting all through the night is a bit different from a dog panting in the day. If nighttime panting and pacing are disturbing your dog's sleep, it can feel like there is something wrong with them. This can be a real worry for dog owners, since sleepless nights are a pretty big indicator of something wrong.

If your dog is pacing and panting at night, there are a few different things that could be the underlying reason.

Stress

If your dog is panting at night, anxiety and stress are likely to be to blame. A stressed-out pet is going to struggle to get to sleep, and their anxiety about what is happening around them is likely to manifest itself in disruptive behavior overnight. If your veterinarian has ruled out medical issues, CBD can be one way to deal with a dog with stress. Either through oil or treat, CBD can help calm a dog's stress in most environments.

These are some things that could be influencing your dog's stress levels:

New Environment or Life Change

Dogs are a lot like humans when it comes to what brings them stress. A major change in their environment or life is bound to be upsetting for a pet. With most people, a new environment of a big change in their lives comes about through choice. A dog, largely, has any major changes to their lives forced on them. They also don’t get any warning, since they can hardly understand. A restless dog at night might still be adjusting to a major change in their environment.

Unhappy Home Environment

A dog doesn’t have to be living in an awful, abusive home to be stressed out about their unhappy environment. Like people, a dog can be stressed out by human dynamics, such as yelling or arguing. An unhappy home life can have a real effect on your dog’s stress levels.

New Owner

Adopting an adult dog can give them a second chance, but it can also cause stress. Major changes like a new owner might be beneficial for your pet, but it will still be stressful. Having someone new around every day, living somewhere different, and generally having a radically different life, can be a lot for a dog to cope with.

Allergies

While stress can be the reason for a dog panting at night, it can be other things. Another possible reason could just be allergies.

Allergic to New Food or Something in the Environment

Allergic reactions can trigger a variety of symptoms. One symptom is panting. If your dog is panting at night, anxiety isn’t always the cause. It could be that where they sleep is putting them in contact with something they’re allergic to. Salmon oil is a good supplement to your dog's diet for many reasons, but it has the added benefit of lowering their allergies.

Anxiety

One major reason for dogs to be restless and panting at night is anxiety. If you think your dog might be restless at night because if they're anxious, there are a few major causes for their anxiety that could be to blame.

Separation Anxiety

A dog suffering from separation anxiety is very likely to pace and pant at night. Separation anxiety at night can be particularly common if a dog has to sleep on their own. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, then panting at night will be common.

More likely in Older Dogs

Anxiety is quite common in an older dog. Panting as a symptom of anxiety is quite a bit more common as a dog's age. A dog's physical and mental health changes and develops as a dog ages. When combined with changes to sleep cycles, this can make a dog quite anxious throughout the night.

New People and Party Situations

Some dogs are very social, and others not so much. However, even the most outgoing of pets can become stressed out in situations with a lot of new people. A party-like situation can leave them overstimulated and worried at night.

Things That Are Low-Stress For You Might Make Your Dog Anxious

Your dog isn’t going to be anxious about the same things that you are. Some situations that don’t seem like a big deal to you are going to cause your dog quite a bit of anxiety. Meeting new people, a change in situation, or even some noises heard in the night can cause dogs anxiety.


What to Do with a Restless, Panting, Anxious Dog

Brown dog running through a stream

All of this information might have helped explain why a dog is anxious, restless, panting, and generally unhappy throughout the night. However, it doesn’t exactly help them to feel better. There is plenty you can do to help a dog suffering from anxiety. These solutions should help no matter the cause of the anxiety:

Make an Effort to Create a Calming Environment for Your Dog

One way to help your dog through the night is to ensure they’re in a calm environment. This can do a lot for reducing their stress and anxiety, letting them get a better night’s sleep.

When they feel stressed or anxious, they can retreat to a safe space. This should give them a nice calming environment when they’re too anxious.

Make Sure They Get Plenty of Exercise

A lack of exercise and stimulation can be a big factor in a dog's anxiety, they need an outlet for their energy. Getting some good exercise and stimulation can allow your dog to blow off some steam.

Consider Supplements

Supplements can be a great option for a dog panting at night from anxiety. CBD Oil is an effective tool that can help ease anxiety in both humans and dogs.

This can be a good treatment to help your dog through the nights, while you work at reducing their sources of stress and anxiety in everyday life.

Check with a Veterinarian to See if Your Aging Dog is Going Through Physical Changes That Might Cause Anxiety

It is common for a dog to pant and pace more at night as they age. In some cases, this is caused by physical changes and increased anxiety. In other cases, however, panting and pacing may indicate an underlying medical condition, such as arthritis, Cushing's disease, or hypothyroidism.

A trip to the vet can help you get to the bottom of your dog's panting. A physical examination and bloodwork can be used to look for some of the medical conditions that are commonly associated with panting, and radiographs (x-rays) may be recommended to rule out arthritis and other signs of pain. If no underlying medical condition is found, your veterinarian can provide you with some reassurance and help you select the best treatment for getting your anxious dog a good night's sleep free from panting.


A dog panting at night because of anxiety can be really worrying. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to help them out. Between cutting down their sources of anxiety and supplements to keep them comfortable overnight, your dog should be able to return to getting a proper night’s sleep.


Meet the Author

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Catherine Barnette DVM

Veterinarian

Catherine is a veterinarian and freelance writer based in Florida. After 14 years as a small animal general practitioner, Dr. Barnette now focuses on creating educational content for veterinary teams and their clients. She shares her home with her husband, daughter, one dog, two cats, and a rescued white dove.



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