You’re settling down for a peaceful night’s sleep, and all you can hear is your dog pacing around. Does your pup seem to get night terrors, and is panting and restless at night? There are many reasons why they might be panting and restless, including stress, anxiety, or illness.

Never fear. Zigzag’s here to help you understand why dogs pant, why your dog might be panting and restless at night, what you can do about it and why your dog is displaying this odd behaviour.
While you’re here, remember to download a trial of our Zigzag puppy training app. You’ll get a fully personalised programme tailored to your dog’s breed and their age. We also have a team of professional dog trainers on hand to help you every step of the way, 7 days a week. Just give them a call, or drop them a message. They’ll be happy to help.

black pug lying on bed
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Why do dogs pant?

Most think dogs pant to cool down, it’s not wrong but isn’t the only reason. Panting is a means of communication. Dogs express how they feel through panting. Often dogs pant when they feel stressed, and some breeds pant more than others due to their face shape or body size.

Dogs pant because they’re hot

Dogs don’t sweat the same way humans do; instead, they pant to cool themselves down. Is it hot where you are?

If it’s a hot day, you’ll probably notice your dog panting more, and they’re likely to be drinking more water too.

Dogs pant when they’re stressed or anxious

Dogs will also pant when they are stressed or worried. It could be because of fireworks, a stressful vet visit, or being left alone and experiencing separation anxiety.

Dog panting can be due to excitement

Dogs are emotional creatures and panting often indicates that your dog is extremely happy or aroused; looking at the rest of their body language helps us determine whether they’re excited or feeling another emotion.

Dogs pant during and after exercise

How do you feel after that run or Zumba class? Bit breathless and panty, I bet.. Your dog is just the same and will pant after playing with another dog or just playing fetch in the park.

Dogs pant when in pain or are unwell

Dogs will pant when they are feeling out of sorts. If your dog is in pain, has been vomiting, or is otherwise feeling unwell, they will probably pant and be restless.

Dogs can also become lethargic when panting or stop eating; for more information, read our full guide to why is my dog lethargic.

Certain breeds of dog pant as they struggle to breathe

Breeds such as Pugs, Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs, as well as other brachycephalics (flat faces) struggle to breathe due to their squished faces. This causes them to pant or gasp for air as they try to get more air in.

Fat dogs pant more than slim ones

We’re not judging, but an overweight dog will likely pant more than one that is eating the appropriate amount for their age and breed, because they have a heavier frame to haul around and it’s harder work, so their breathing will become more laboured.

beagle sleeping
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Why is my dog panting and restless at night?

If your dog is panting and restless at night, this can be because they’re worried about outside noises, feeling territorial of their space, worried about being on their own, showing signs of age related dementia, or they could just be bursting for the toilet!

Animals outside waking your dog up

Foxes, badgers or even the neighbourhood cats can worry or equally excite your dog. They can also make your dog feel territorial and that they need to scare the intruder away!

A fear of loud noises or sound phobia

Loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms, washing machines noises, or other sounds at night can frighten your dog, which can make them pant and be restless.

Your dog might have separation anxiety or just be scared of being on their own

If your dog is panting and restless when you’re not there, then this can signify that they’re not happy being on their own. While this may be separation anxiety, it is really common for young puppies not to want to be left alone. They just aren’t quite emotionally equipped for it. Dogs are social creatures, after all, and need to learn to be ok on their own.

Dogs who appear disorientated or restless at night may have cognitive dysfunction

Canine cognitive dysfunction, also known as doggy dementia affects senior dogs and can present as a dog wandering about or restless at night.

Your dog might need the toilet

Uh oh. Sometimes a panting and restless dog at night can signal that they need the toilet. It might be a puppy unable to hold their bladder overnight, or an older dog might have a dodgy stomach and be desperate for a poo!

french bulldog sleeping in person's arms
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What do I do if my dog is panting and restless?

If your dog is panting and restless, it’s important to figure out what’s causing the behaviour. To help your dog, we recommend the following.

Make sure your dog has had all their needs met – dogs need a good amount of physical exercise appropriate for their age and breed. They also need mental stimulation, positive reinforcement training and teaching basic cues to help keep them mentally happy. 

Reduce stress overall – whatever the thing is that’s causing your dog stress or anxiety needs to stop in order for them to feel better. This might be not leaving your puppy for longer than they can handle, or helping your dog cope with fireworks or outside noises by muffling with a white noise machine and covering up windows.

Seek veterinary advice if your dog has other symptoms of being unwell – A fever, drinking excessively, diarrhoea or vomiting, crying, or suddenly developing a cough. 

Make them comfortable – give them some attention and cuddles (if they want them) and try to help them calm down

If your dog is panting and restless, whether during the day or at night, don’t ignore it. They’re trying to tell you something; it could just be that they’re hot, but it could also be that they’re sick or anxious. If your dog is panting, you can help by making them feel secure and safe, cooling the area down if they’re hot, and contacting your vet if it’s come on suddenly and they’re not feeling well.

If your puppy has been vomiting, read our complete guide to puppy vomiting to learn more. 

If you’re looking for more dog training tips and advice or Do you have a new puppy and want to start teaching them the right way from the get-go? Download the Zigzag puppy training app today to start your free trial, you’ll get a personalised puppy training programme that will follow your puppy’s age and emotional development, giving you all the right lessons exactly when you need them. But it doesn’t end there.

We don’t just provide you with a set of lessons, oh no! We also have a team of puppy trainers ready to talk to you 7 days a week! Honestly, they’re actual real live people at the end of the phone or text and are ready and waiting to help. Get in touch and see how they can help you with your dog, today!