Dogs tend to sleep all night and are active during the daytime. Some dogs are more active at night because their owners work the night shift.
However, if a dog that normally sleeps through the night is panting, restless, or pacing, this means that the dog needs to go see a veterinarian.
This could be a sign of pain or, if the dog is older, can be one of the first signs of canine cognitive dysfunction, also known as dog dementia.
This can also be signs of anxiety.
Why is My Dog Panting and Restless at Night?
Any sudden change in your dog’s behavior warrants a trip to the vet. Panting is often a sign of pain. Major reasons your dog is panting and restless at night are due to pain, canine cognitive dysfunction, or a pregnant dog going into labor. Panting and restlessness is also a sign of anxiety, often due to a big change in the dog’s life.
Panting and Restlessness at Night as Signs of Pain
When you are in pain, what happens to you? You often breathe shallowly and may even start to pant.
It’s hard to get comfortable, even lying down in bed, so you shift around constantly in a futile effort to get relief.
The same sort of thing happens to dogs. Pain makes them pant.
They also cannot get comfortable and may start pacing or getting up and lying down and getting back up again in an endless cycle for hours.
Dogs may do this in the daytime, but owners notice this more often at night since they are busy and may be away from the dog most of the day.
Owners that let their dogs sleep in their beds or in their bedrooms are often most aware since the dog’s restlessness and panting keep the owners awake.
If your dog suddenly becomes restless at night and pants, check the dog for any other symptoms such as a rock-hard belly, whimpering, or refusing to eat even the most tempting of treats.
Keep in mind that dogs in pain may snap, so be careful. They cannot help growling or snapping. They hurt when they are touched.
When you take your dog to the vet, be sure to note when the symptoms began, and if there are any others other than just restlessness and panting.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Also called dog dementia or dog Alzheimer’s, it is a leading reason why a senior dog may pant and become restless at night.
According to the acclaimed dog magazine, The Bark, older dogs become confused at what time of day it is.
They may think it’s daytime and become upset when no one else does the usual daytime routines.
Other signs of canine cognitive dysfunction include:
- Suddenly soiling in the house after a long time without accidents.
- Circling aimlessly or pacing.
- Loss of interest in just about anything.
- Becomes unable to get out of anyone’s way, becoming a tripping hazard.
- Getting stuck in corners or behind furniture. The dog does not remember how to get out of this predicament and will just stand there, staring at the wall.
- May become far more vocal than usual.
- May forget familiar people or pets, even those the dog lives with.
- May suddenly become aggressive.
The early stages of canine cognitive dysfunction are treatable through exposure to sunlight to help make them sleepy at night, dietary changes, and medication.
Panting and Restlessness as Signs of Anxiety
Sudden changes in a dog’s life can cause anxiety. They often want to get outdoors.
Unfortunately, a lot of things can cause a dog anxiety.
Has a beloved master suddenly gone on vacation? The dog may be anxious because the master is missing.
Another common reason for anxiousness happens in dogs that are entire or those that have not been neutered or spayed.
Their sex drive compels them to try and go outdoors to find their mate.
If the dog is also barking, he or she may be alerting you to an intruder inside the house or just outside of the house.
The intruder could be a thief, a raccoon, or another dog. No matter what it is, the dog is upset or excited and wants everyone in the house to face this intruder.
Sudden loud noises that happen at unpredictable times often make a dog anxious and can cause restlessness and panting.
These noises include fireworks, thunderstorms, and construction work. Usually, when the cause of the noises goes, so does the anxiety.
Some canine breeds are more prone to having anxiety than the rest.
These include cocker spaniels, Bassett hounds, German shepherds, Siberian huskies, Dalmatians, standard poodles, and Bernese Mountain dogs.
A recent study shows that dog breeds most made anxious by noises are Lagotto Romagnolos, Wheaten terriers and mixed breeds.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Is My Dog Panting and Restless at Night
Should My Dog Go to the Vet?
Usually, it’s best for a dog that is panting and restless at night to go see the vet. These symptoms are often the signs of pain or canine cognitive dysfunction. Check for other symptoms like a reluctance to be touched, loss of appetite, or a turgid belly.
Is My Pregnant Dog Panting and Restless at Night About to Give Birth?
Dogs can give birth either in day or night time. Two of the earliest signs of labor are panting and restlessness. Other signs of labor are shaking, vomiting, and attempting to dig a hole in the floor or her bed. Get the dog right away to where you want her to give birth if she is not there already.
My New Dog is Panting and Restless at Night. Is This Normal?
This is normal behavior. Your new dog has just undergone a lot of change. He or she needs to get used to a new home and family. The dog may be missing previous caretakers or doggy friends at a shelter. This behavior should pass with time.
The Least You Need to Know
You are the best person to know what’s normal for your dog.
If your dog is panting and restless at night and has never done that before, it’s time to go visit the vet.
Your dog could be in pain or could be suffering from a medical condition like canine cognitive dysfunction.
Pregnant dogs that pant and are restless at night or in the day are going into labor. Sometimes, the problem is anxiety over some big change in the dog’s life.