April 7, 2023

Why Is My Dog Panting and Restless, And What Can I Do?

Why is your dog panting? Learn all about panting in dogs and whether you should be concerned.

Affiliate Disclosure: cutie.dog is reader-supported, which means we may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

Your dog is panting and restless, what do you do?  Every dog pants to cool themselves. Although panting in dogs is often attributed to excessive heat or exercise, it can be due to many other things. Here, we'll cover what potential causes for panting and restless behavior, including the health problems that might cause heavy panting, and how you can help him/her with the problem at hand.

Panting Is A Very Common Dog Behavior

Panting is a very common dog behavior and is the most efficient way for dogs to cool themselves down after exercise or overheating. As they pant, their tongue hangs out of their mouth and saliva evaporates from the dog’s mouth and nose, cooling them down quickly. The sweat glands on their paw pads also play an important role by releasing sweat onto the pads, where it's cooled before being released into the bloodstream.

You can usually treat your dog's panting by giving them water and making sure they're in a cool environment. But in other situations, heavy or excessive dog panting can be the first sign of trouble.  

Common Reasons Why Your Dog Is Panting and Restless and what to do

The following are some of the possible reasons a panting dog may be a concern and ways you might be able to alleviate the behavior.


Panting and restlessness are two signs that your dog is suffering from high temperatures. Panting increases your dog's respiratory rate, which helps to regulate your dog's body temperature. When dogs get too hot, they begin to pant in order to cool down and reduce their heart rate. 

Here are some fun ways to cool down your dog on a hot summer day:

  • Provide plenty of water: Make sure they're drinking lots of water! It goes without saying that you should give your dog lots of water during the summer months, but if you have a new dog or an old dog, you might have to make sure they're drinking it.  Coconut water ice cubes are a tasty way to keep your dog cool this summer.
  • Take your dog to cool places: If you’re inside your house, take the dog to a place with better ventilation or with cool air. If you take your dog for car rides,  make sure to turn on the air conditioner. 
  • Take your dog on a swim: Try cooling the dog by splashing them with water. You can use a hose to make them wet or you can also provide him a pool that he can swim with. 

Please note that overweight dogs with thick fur will experience heat exhaustion more easily than other dogs. Dogs are susceptible to overheating or heat stroke, and it can happen quickly. Here are some signs that your dog is overheated:

  • Panting heavily and fast
  • Increased heart rate
  • Drooling excessively
  • Red gums or tongue (this is a symptom of heatstroke)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (a symptom of heatstroke)
  • Lack of coordination/staggering/trouble walking (a symptom of heatstroke)
  • Lethargy (a symptom of heatstroke)

If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, take him to the veterinarian immediately.

Fear or anxiety

The most common reasons why your dog is panting and restless are anxiety and fear. The basis for your dog’s separation anxiety and fear is numerous ranging from their natural personality to a traumatic event that they survived. It could also be because they are the clingy type of dog that needs to be in your presence at all times. The fear and anxiety can also be short-lived, stemming from something temporary such as loud noises.

Things you can do if your dog is anxious: The best way to deal with anxiety is to figure out what's causing it and try to reduce that as much as possible. Here are some tools/products that may help reducing anxiety in your dog. 

  • Pressure Wrap | Anti-Anxiety Vest: Anxiety wraps are tight-fitting, vest-like garments designed to comfort anxious dogs. They work because the pressure they create against the dog's torso helps to calm him, just as swaddling a crying infant or hugging someone who is distressed does.

  • Calming Behavioral Supplements: For dogs with noise phobias, a supplement containing the amino acid L-Theanine—which has been shown to decrease anxiety in such cases—may relieve their anxiety.

  • Calming Music: Joshua Leeds, a sound researcher, developed a line of CDs called “Through a Dog’s Ear” with music to calm dogs. Many dogs have had positive reactions to the music, and it has produced positive effects on humans as well.

  • Don't let the dog sense your stress: When your dog starts acting restless, you might think that it's because something is wrong with them. But there's a chance your dog is picking up on your stress levels and reacting to them—and if you can keep your cool around your furry friend, they'll feel much more relaxed too.


If you gently press areas of your panting dog's body and he/she moves away from the pressure, it is likely a sign of pain. They may hold a leg or paw up to their body, limp on one side, or lick an area more than usual.  

In cases where the cause isn't immediately obvious and the panting continues for longer than 30 minutes, seek veterinary care as soon as possible so the cause can be identified and treated appropriately.

Here are some things you can do if your dog is in pain.

  • Pain management: You may give your dog pain relief medication to ease mild and temporary pain. Your veterinarian may recommend over-the-counter medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), joint supplements, or natural oils. Here are two highly-rated supplements that provide joint pain relief, decrease inflammation, and improve immune function. 

Hip & Joint Health Soft Chews

Dog Fish Oil Supplements

  • Improve your dog's diet: Make sure your dog is having his/her nutritional needs met. If you want to switch your dog from processed foods to fresh foods, I highly recommend trying The Farmer’s DogThe Farmer’s dog is a unique pet food delivery service that produces balanced, freshly made meals guided by science and driven by love.
@brunoong1005 #ad Get yours 50% off here: discover.thefarmersdog.com/brunofrenchie @thefarmersdog #thefarmersdog #ad #linkinbio #dogfood #freshdogfood ♬ BREATHE - Jérôme Cosniam

  • To avoid back and neck problems, make sure your dog has a bed that is both soft and supportive: When your dog is restless and panting at night, it can be hard to sleep. You just want to make sure your buddy is as comfortable as possible. You can start with high-quality beds that are larger than you think is necessary. Learn more about the best calming beds that may fit your dog’s problem.

Medical Conditions that need immediate veterinary care

If you suspect your dog might have the following conditions, visit your local vet immediately.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is a condition that occurs when the nerves controlling the larynx are damaged. Because of this, dogs with laryngeal paralysis can't control their breath, causing them to pant much more frequently than normal. Laryngeal paralysis can also cause a dog's tongue and lips to swell because their breathing becomes so labored. Here are the laryngeal paralysis signs in dogs:

  • Increased panting
  • Harsh-sounding breathing, particularly when panting
  • Abnormal-sounding bark, which often sounds as though the pet has laryngitis
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing or gagging when eating or drinking
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Dark red or purple-colored tongue
  • Collapse


Anemia can make your dogs tired and restless. Anemia is similar to anemia in humans, and it happens when we don't have enough red blood cells. Without enough blood, your dog's brain and organs won't get enough oxygen, so the issue will make them pant and be restless.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure in dogs occurs when the dog’s heart is unable to pump an adequate amount of blood to the body, thus causing an increase in pressure and fluid that eventually leaks into the lungs and, less frequently, other major organs. No matter what the cause, dog heart disease is a serious condition and you should definitely keep an eye on your dog's symptoms. Panting, especially when paired with restlessness, is one of many symptoms that can point to heart disease. Also, check for these other symptoms:

  • Dog pacing before bedtime and difficulty settling down
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Crackling sound when listening to the lungs
  • Increased heart rate
  • Inability to exercise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Swollen belly (due to fluid buildup)

Cushing's Disease

Cushing's disease is a benign tumor on the dog’s adrenal glands that can cause much cortisol, resulting in a host of symptoms including frequent panting and restlessness. This is common causes of high levels of hormones that stimulate metabolism in the body. The symptoms include increased thirst, appetite, and urination, extra weight gain, pot-belly appearance, hair loss, and panting for no reason. The disease occurs in dogs more often than in cats so it's very common for a senior dog to be panting at night time.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Also known as Canine Cognitive Disorder. In the same best way that humans can develop Alzheimer's or other types of dementia, dogs can develop cognitive dysfunction. It's very common in older dogs. There are a number of possible causes for this condition. It can be caused by infection, tumors, liver disease, kidney disease, and rat poison.

Respiratory Disorders

Any change in your dog's breathing can be a sign of respiratory disease. These changes can result from a variety of health conditions, including asthma, allergies, infections, cancer, heart disease, and more. 

Labored breathing in dogs (dyspnea), rapid breathing (tachypnea), and abnormal panting are common types of heavy breathing abnormalities that affect dogs.

Neurological Conditions

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a common condition in dogs. It's most often seen in small and large breed dogs, but any dog can get it. IVDD is caused when the discs between the vertebrae of the spine are damaged. Your dog's discs act as cushions for his spine, but when they're damaged, his spine is unprotected and he can feel pain at any time.

Symptoms of IVDD include mild to severe chronic or acute back pain, difficulty laying down, excessive panting, hiding from you or other people/pets (possibly under furniture or in a closet), yowling or yelping randomly.

Joint Pain

Osteoarthritis is a very common disease in dogs over the age of seven. A dog suffering from arthritic pain may often experience stiffness, limping, and decreased activity. It is common for arthritic dogs to pant a lot in the middle of the night.

It can be difficult to tell exactly where the soreness is coming from in some dogs. They may seem restless when, in fact, they are just too sore to settle down for very long.

Digestive Disorder

Chronic Gastrointestinal Distress in dogs has a wide range of symptoms. It's unpleasant to feel nauseated. Dogs with abdominal pain, pancreatitis or medicine-induced nausea can become distressed. Pacing, abnormal panting and restlessness are some of the ways in which dogs try to deal with being nauseated. Other symptoms of nausea include vomiting, eating grass, licking themselves, licking objects, drooling, increased drinking and decreased appetite.

Other signs of Gastrointestinal distress include:

  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Incontinence
  • Vomiting

Urinary Tract Diseases

It is not unusual for senior pets and certain dog breeds to experience bladder infections and urinary tract stones. Signs of infection include increased frequency of urination, puddling in the house, straining to urinate, foul urine odor, and blood in the urine. 

Many pets with bladder problems have a hard time holding their urine until they find a good place to go. If you notice your pet trying to go more often than usual, it could indicate an issue with their urinary tract.

If you suspect your dog might have the conditions described above, contact your veterinarian immediately because the first few hours can be the most critical.

Some Dog Breeds Are More Prone To Panting And Restlessness Than Others

If you have a dog that falls into the group of brachycephalic breeds that are prone to restlessness, you should look out for signs of panting and overheating on a hot day. If your dog starts panting excessively and seems uncomfortable, you should probably bring them inside to cool off or at least provide some shade. Some breeds known as brachycephalic dogs (such as Boston Terriers, Boxers, Pugs, English bulldog, French bulldog, etc.) have short snouts and wide heads that severely limit their ability to pant. These dogs will show signs of pain long before other dogs will, so it's important to keep an eye on them in high-temperature conditions. 

Key Takeaway

Dog panting isn't always a sign of something serious, but it can sometimes be. As a dog owner, you should learn the signs of other conditions combined with panting and seek medical attention as early as possible.

If you are an anxious pet parent, like I am, who worries about each little symptom your dog exhibits and doesn't know whether to seek medical care, consider getting a subscription to vester.com. Vester.com is a 24/7 digital pet clinic. You can get answers to your pet-health questions from a vet in minutes.