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Why is my Dog Restless and Panting at Night? (12 Possible Causes)



If you've ever found yourself tossing and turning in the early hours of the morning, spurred by the ceaseless panting of your canine

If you’ve ever found yourself tossing and turning in the early hours of the morning, spurred by the ceaseless panting of your canine companion, you’re likely asking – ‘Why is my dog restless and panting at night?’.

Observing unusual behavior in your pet can seem disturbing, leaving you sleepless and concerned. From old age to anxiety, there could be a host of reasons that might rouse our four-legged friends from their slumber and leave them panting through the night. In the quest to alleviate your concerns and to answer your questions, we delve into the following nine possible causes:

  1. Heatstroke: High temperatures don’t bode well for our canine friends.
  2. Anxiety and Stress: Like humans, dogs too can succumb to the pressures of stress and anxiety.
  3. Age related ailments: As pups age, they encounter health issues which may disrupt their sleep.
  4. Breed-specific ailments: Some breeds are more genetically predisposed to certain conditions
  5. Pain: Discomfort from injury or illness often leads to restlessness.
  6. Diet: The food your dog consumes might also be a contributing factor.
  7. Over-exertion: A surplus of energy might keep your dog awake.
  8. Bloat: A serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.
  9. Heart disease: Canines can be susceptible to heart problems that can lead to panting and restlessness.

Fret not, dear reader. As we unwrap each one of these causes, we aim to quell your concerns and offer remedies where possible. We understand how much you love and care for your four-legged family member. After all, a good night’s rest for your companion equates to a peaceful night for you too.

What are the common symptoms of restlessness and panting in dogs at night?

Before diving into the potential causes of this behavior, it’s crucial to identify what to look for. Dogs are creatures of habit, and any deviation from their usual behavior may indicate a health issue or a simple discomfort. The most apparent symptoms of restlessness and panting in dogs at night are as follows:

  • Pacing or inability to settle
  • Unusual amount of panting, especially when it’s not hot
  • Whining or barking at night
  • Frequent changes in position or constant shifting
  • Sudden aversion to their normal sleeping spot

Observation is key to decoding your dog’s behavior. Please keep in mind that excess panting and restlessness may occur due to a variety of reasons. It could be something as simple as a change in room temperature, or it could be indicative of a larger health issue. Let’s delve into the nine possible causes that contribute to your dog’s restlessness and panting at night.

Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds, commonly known as flat-faced dogs, include breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Boxers. These breeds have a distinct anatomy that makes them prone to certain breathing difficulties, primarily because of their shortened airways.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a common condition in these breeds, leading to increased panting and restlessness, particularly at night when they’re trying to cool off. This syndrome can lead to respiratory distress, which may further escalate into restlessness during the night.

Large Breeds and Deep-Chested Dogs

Dogs belonging to larger breeds and those with deep chests like Great Danes, St. Bernard’s, Borzois, and Weimaraners, often suffer from a potentially life-threatening condition called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), also known as bloating.

When a dog suffers from GDV, its stomach fills with gas and can twist, preventing gas from escaping. This can quickly lead to increased discomfort and secondary problems like restlessness and excessive panting at night. Immediate veterinary attention is required in these situations.

Sporting and Working Breeds

Active breeds such as German Shepherds, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, and other sporting or working dogs have high energy levels. When these dogs don’t get enough physical activities or mental stimulation during the day, they may have excess energy to burn off, resulting in symptoms like restlessness and panting at night.

It is also important to note that some of these breeds are prone to health issues such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, or joint diseases. These conditions can cause discomfort or pain, further intensifying restlessness at night.

Are there any environmental factors that can trigger restlessness and panting in dogs at night?

Indeed, there are several environmental factors that may lead to restlessness and panting in dogs during the night. It is essential to understand these as they sometimes point to underlying issues in a dog’s environment that may need urgent attention. So, what might these be?

Temperature Fluctuations

Just like humans, dogs are profoundly affected by sudden changes in temperature, particularly heat. If a dog’s environment becomes too hot, the animal may start panting and become restless as it tries to regulate its body temperature. This occurrence is even more common during summer months when the heat can be unrelenting. It is advisable to keep the dog’s environment cool and provide fresh water to keep it comfortable.

Noise and Light Levels

Dogs have a keen sense of hearing and can be extremely sensitive to noise, especially those that we as humans may hardly even notice. Noise from traffic, loud neighbors, or thunderstorms can quickly distress a dog, causing restlessness and panting. Similarly, excess lighting in the environment can disrupt a dog’s sleep cycle, leading to anxiety and subsequent panting.

Unfamiliarity with Surroundings

If you’ve recently moved, introduced new furniture, or made significant changes to your house, your dog may feel uncomfortable in the new environment. This kind of unfamiliarity can trigger restlessness and panting at night as the dog tries to adapt to its new surroundings. We must remember our pets are creatures of habit, and changes in their environment can be stressful.

Pests and Parastic Infestations

Perhaps one of the most overlooked environmental factors causing nighttime restlessness and panting in dogs are pests or parasitic infestations. Fleas, ticks, and other parasites can make a dog immensely uncomfortable, leading to a sleepless night filled with panting. Regular pest control and parasite treatment can help prevent this.

Absence of Physical Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Dogs are physically active beings, and a lack of sufficiently stimulating activities during the day can lead to excessive energy at night. This pent-up energy can then manifest as restlessness and panting. Therefore, adequate physical exercise and mental stimulation during the day can result in a peaceful, restful night for your dog.

Are there any specific breeds that are more prone to restlessness and panting at night?

breeds do not always influence sleep patterns and behaviors, but certain types of dogs may be more prone to restlessness and panting at night. It’s always important to remember, however, that every dog is unique and individual experiences can largely vary.

Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses and flat faces) such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus, can frequently struggle with breathing issues due to their unique physical structure. It’s no wonder that these adorable breeds might pant more, even at night. This panting can sometimes make them restless and disrupt their sleep.

Large Breeds and Deep-Chested Dogs

The more sizable a dog is, often the more prone they are to heart conditions. Large breeds such as Great Danes, Boxers, or St. Bernards, along with deep-chested dogs like Dobermans and Greyhounds, can be more susceptible to heart-related issues that may result in increased panting and restlessness.

Sporting and Working Breeds

Another group to consider are the sporting and working breeds like Retrievers, Border Collies, German Shepherds, and many others. These are naturally active and agile dogs. If they do not get enough physical activity during the day, they are more likely to be restless and pant during the night.

Regardless of breed, it’s important that if your dog presents with excessive panting and restlessness at night, a vet should be consulted immediately. Even for breeds more prone to those symptoms, it should never be taken lightly or ignored.

Christy Avery has worked as a veterinary technician for more than five years, caring for both domestic and exotic animals. She has received training as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and treat pet anxiety, fear, and stress.