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Why Is My Dog Panting At Night?

Excessive panting at night in dogs can be a cause for concern, even though panting during a warm day or while playing is normal. This can indicate that something is wrong and can cause sleepless nights for you and your furry friend. In this blog post, our vets in San Mateo discuss the signs, treatments, and when to take your dog to the vet.

To clarify, panting is a natural way for dogs to regulate their body temperature, similar to how humans sweat. However, if a dog is panting excessively at night without an apparent reason, it could indicate something is wrong, and the dog may be distressed.

Why is my dog panting so much?

There are situations when your dog's panting is not a matter of concern, such as after a long walk on a hot day, playing energetically, or being excited. However, if your dog is panting excessively and behaving restlessly, such as pacing in cool weather or at night, it could be a sign of a more serious issue. Some of the possible reasons for excessive panting include:

  • Cushing’s Disease. Cushing's disease in dogs occurs when there is an excessive amount of cortisol in the bloodstream. Along with heavy panting, some other symptoms of this disease are increased thirst, frequent urination, hair loss, increased hunger, and a pot-bellied appearance. This health issue is frequently observed in senior dogs and could be one of the causes of abnormal heavy panting.
  • Respiratory disease. Respiratory issues can affect your dog's breathing, making it difficult for them to get enough oxygen to circulate throughout their body. If your dog has respiratory issues, they may pant heavily or struggle to breathe after even light exercise. If you notice that your dog's tongue is no longer a healthy pink color and instead appears blue, purple, or grey, it's important to take them to the vet immediately for treatment. Your dog may be experiencing oxygen deprivation, which can be a serious health concern.
  • Heart disease. Excessive panting and coughing can be heart disease or failure symptoms, impacting your dog's ability to breathe. In these cases, you may notice your dog panting heavily after walking for a short distance.
  • Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a critical condition for dogs, which can lead to fatal consequences if not treated properly. It is more likely to occur in temperatures over 106°F (41°C) and causes heavy panting, leading to dehydration. Short-nosed breeds like pugs are especially vulnerable to high temperatures. It is essential to never leave a dog of any breed alone in a car during warm weather, as they can overheat or suffer from heatstroke quickly.

Why is my dog panting 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 more difficulty 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 exhibits symptoms of excessive nighttime panting, pacing, or other anxious behaviors, contact your vet to find out whether they should see your dog. 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. The services listed in this post may not be available at this hospital.

Is your dog panting excessively at night? Our veterinarians in San Mateo can provide information and treatment options. Please get in touch with us today for an appointment. 

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At South Hillsdale Animal Hospital, our experienced vets are passionate about the health of San Mateo companion animals. Get in touch today to learn more about our services and becoming a new client with us.

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