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Why is My Dog panting and Restless? 9 Reasons Explained

dog panting and restless at night

Most of the time you can figure out why your dog is panting and restless. It could be the weather, exercise, or even excitement. However, if there is no obvious reason for either condition, it is quite natural to become concerned.

There are a lot of things that can cause your dog to develop panting and restlessness. Once the obvious has been ruled out, it’s time to do some sleuthing. The vet could use a few clues to go on if you can find something to report.

Dog Panting and Restless

Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat to release heat. So how do dogs regulate their body temperature? Dogs pant. Panting is how dogs cool themselves down when the temperature is hot. You may have noticed your dog sleeping with his tongue out while panting.

However, not all panting is normal behavior. That’s what we’re going to discuss in this guide. You’ll learn about 9 reasons why your dog might be panting and restless. Without further ado, let’s get started.

1. Anxiety

No matter the cause, dog anxiety can create these symptoms. Clues to this can be found in your day-to-day life. Has there been a sudden change in your household? Have fireworks or other loud noises been happening? Those and other questions can help you figure that one out.

There are several ways to help an anxious pet if that is the problem. Some old clothing of yours could do it, and there is a soothing dog pheromone product that can help. Once the poor pooch is calm, the panting and restlessness should abate.

2. Injury

Even the most sedentary dogs can become injured. They also can’t tell us what hurts or where. There may be some clues, such as the favoring of a leg, but it may be harder to find. If you gently pet your dog, he or she may wince if there is a painful area.

Your veterinarian is going to be your best bet if pain is an issue. Giving a dog-human medication, especially without vet approval, can be deadly. There is also the possibility that the injury is serious enough to require medical help. 

3. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

It may be hard to believe, but humans are not the only animals that can develop symptoms of dementia. Cats and dogs both can do so, and it is just as hard to watch for them as it is for a human relative.

While panting and restlessness are two of the symptoms, there are usually others that will help you and your vet figure out if your pet has this problem. Your dog may have changes in his appetite, behavioral changes and forget to go outside to do his or her doggy duty.

There is a lot you can do for a dog with this problem, although it will take at least as much patience as it does with their suffering human counterparts.

4. Sundowning

One of the chief problems you will face is called “sundowning.” While it is most often prevalent in the later part of the afternoon, it really goes all day.

A sundowning dog may get lost going from one room to another. He or she may wander away from an unfenced yard and be unable to get home again. Like a human with this disorder, they need to be supervised constantly to prevent these problems.

The dog will have trouble sleeping at night and staying awake in the day. To counter this problem, you can see to it that he or she has sufficient exercise.

This includes mental stimulation exercises. Puzzle toys, especially treat balls, will come in very handy here. Keeping the dog engaged during the daytime will help with sleep at night.

Your veterinarian can also help. The vet can tell you how much omega-3 fatty acids to feed your dog and what method is preferable. Medications can also help your dog sleep at night instead of during the day. This will also stop the pacing, panting, and even howling in confusion.

5. Obesity

Dogs can have as much problem with being overweight as humans. In some ways, it’s worse because the dog doesn’t know why eating too much is bad. Keeping the pet from becoming overweight is our responsibility, but there are things that can make that more difficult.

Obesity can cause more than just panting and restlessness. An overweight dog is more likely to have heat-related problems. Not only is he or she wearing a fur coat, but the fat also makes it more like a parka with a fur coat on top. 

This can lead to another problem that causes those symptoms. Overheating and heat stroke are both possible, particularly if you live in an area that gets really hot. This can happen even if the dog isn’t exercising.

Weight loss will help, but it is more than just adjusting the pet’s food. Part of the weight-loss equation for all species is exercise.

Think of calories like money in a bank account. What your dog eats is what is deposited. What he or she does is the withdrawal. To lose weight, your pet will have to withdraw more than he or she consumes.

6. Poison

There are a lot of things that can poison our pets. Some of those things might be a surprise. As an example, a small handful of grapes or raisins are enough to kill a small dog. It wouldn’t take a lot more to kill a larger animal.

Poisons can appear in your yard, vegetable garden, and in your house. They can be plants or they can be chemicals. They may be poisonous to humans or be perfectly safe for us and harmful to our canine friends. 

If you suspect poison is the culprit, make sure to take a sample of the suspected poison with you to the vet. This is especially true if it’s a plant. This will help the vet to know what kind of poison it is, what it does, and how to treat it. 

7. Laryngeal Paralysis

There can be several causes for this problem. Most of the time the cause is unknown, or idiopathic, in the parlance of your vet. Trauma to the neck can cause the larynx to become paralyzed, as can several illnesses. 

If the problem is relatively minor, it can be treated with medications and special care for the animal. Anti-inflammatory medications are often used for this. The dog has to be kept away from high heat and high humidity as well. In more serious cases, surgery must be done to correct it.

Cushing’s disease is one of these and is often listed separately when considering problems that cause a dog to pant or be restless. That is because both the medications and surgery are different. Cushing’s is caused by a tumor on either the pituitary or the adrenal gland.

The former is usually treated only with medication. That’s because the removal surgery is still not commonly done. These tumors are usually benign. However, the adrenal gland tumor must be removed. In about half the cases, they are cancerous and that aggressively so. 

8. Medication

With many of these problems, medication is often suggested. However, some medications (usually for other problems) can also cause panting and restlessness.

Your best bet for this is to discuss it with your vet. There may be an alternative medication without the side effect that can be used.

In all of these cases, be wary of home medicating. Unless you absolutely know what you are doing, you could accidentally poison your pet. Some of the supplements we humans can use without harm are dangerous for pets, and so are many medications we use.

9. Arthritis

Like injuries, arthritis pain can cause both panting and restlessness. The answers to solving the arthritis problem may run along the same lines as for injuries, with a few differences.

As an example, if your pet is allowed on the furniture, getting to that dizzying height may become difficult. In that case, stairs to help him or her get to her favorite resting spot will help.

So will heat, applies as the veterinarian directs. Anti-inflammatory drugs may help relieve the pain. Your vet may also suggest supplements that will provide some relief from the pain.

Conclusion

If your veterinarian doesn’t find an obvious cause to your pet’s panting and restlessness, there may be a training issue that needs to be addressed. Your vet and/or your local pet store can recommend a good trainer who can spot the problems and help you deal with them.

Keep in mind that if it is a training issue, all of the humans in the house also have to be trained. It will confuse the dog if one person demands things be done properly and everyone else lets it slide. This includes children, and to a certain degree, visitors.

Lastly, you may want to consider that this is just the way your dog is. Some dogs, like some humans, are just the restless types. Giving them something to do may improve matters, but may not resolve the entire problem.

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