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Why Is My Dog Panting At Night?

It's not uncommon for dogs to pant, but it can be concerning when it happens frequently during the night. There are both non-dangerous and dangerous reasons why your dog might be panting at night. In this blog post, our New York vets will discuss the causes and help you determine when it’s time to visit the vet. 

Why is my dog panting so much?

There are several situations in which your dog panting is normal, such as after a long walk in humid weather, after active play, or when they're excited. However, if your dog is panting excessively and showing restless behavior (like pacing) in mild or cooler weather conditions or at night, it could be a sign of a more serious issue. Some potential reasons for excessive panting include:

Dangerous Reasons for Nighttime Panting

  • 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 can affect 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 that your canine companion's tongue is no longer a healthy pink but instead blue, purple, or grey, head to the vet immediately for treatment, as your dog may be experiencing oxygen deprivation.
  • Heart disease. Excessive panting and coughing can be symptoms of heart disease or failure and may significantly impact your dog's breathing. In these cases, you may notice heavy panting in your dog after walking just a short distance.
  • Heatstroke. Heatstroke in dogs is a serious issue and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Dogs are more likely to experience heatstroke in temperatures over 106°F (41°C), which can lead to heavy panting and dehydration. Short-nosed breeds like pugs are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures. It's crucial to never leave a dog of any breed alone in a car in warm weather, as they can overheat or suffer from heatstroke rapidly.

Non-Dangerous Reasons for Nighttime Panting

  • Temperature Regulation. Dogs pant to regulate their body temperature. If your home is too warm, your dog may pant more at night. Ensure that your dog’s sleeping area is cool and well-ventilated.
  • Anxiety or Stress.  Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety and stress. Changes in their environment, loud noises, or separation anxiety can cause them to be restless and pant at night. Creating a calm and safe sleeping environment can help alleviate this issue.
  • Physical Activity. If your dog has had a particularly active day, they might pant more at night as their body cools down. This is generally not a cause for concern unless it persists.

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 see 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 an emergency veterinary hospital after hours. Your veterinarian will examine your dog, conduct any necessary diagnostic and treatment procedures, and collaborate with you to help your dog feel better today and in the future.

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? Don't hesitate to contact our New York veterinarians for information and treatment options.

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