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Why is my dog panting at night?

Does your dog seem to be restless through the night? Are you concerned that they are panting excessively when they should be sleeping? In this blog, our Clinton Township vets discuss heavy breathing and talk about why your dog pants so much at night.

My Dog Pants at Night

When you feel as though your dog is breathing heavily or excessively at night, it can be helpful to know what is considered excessive, what is normal and the steps to take if you are concerned. On average a healthy dog will take between 15 to 35 breaths per minute when they are resting. (By nature your dog will breathe more heavily and pant when exercising). Therefore, anything more than 40 breaths a minute when your dog is at rest is considered to be abnormal and should be investigated.

However, it's essential to know that panting doesn't always point to an issue and that it's your furry friend's way of cooling themselves down, regulating their body temperature, and letting heat and water evaporate from their mouth tongue, and upper respiratory tract.

Unlike humans, dogs are unable to sweat when they get too warm. Instead, they turn to panting or breathing fast to help cool themselves down. In these situations, you can rest easy knowing that the panting isn't dangerous.

Signs of Panting in Dogs

To figure out whether your dog is panting you will first need to determine their regular breathing rate while resting. (You might also want to do this when you aren't worried, about determining your dog's normal respiratory rate). Anything under 30 breaths per minute is considered normal, anything above 35 may be a cause for concern and is worth contacting your vet over. Your vet will have a good understanding of your dog's normal respiratory rate from previous examinations.

Why is my dog panting and restless so much at night?

Brachycephalic dog breeds, breeds with short noses or squished faces, such as Boston terriers, boxers, and pugs, face a higher risk of developing breathing issues and should always be closely monitored by pet owners for signs of increased respiratory effort.

Even so, dogs with smooshed-in faces aren't the only ones that can face breathing issues. No matter which breed your dog is, heavy panting or fast breathing could be a sign that your pooch is suffering from an illness or injury that requires urgent veterinary care. A few potential causes of fast or heavy breathing in dogs include:

  • Exercise
  • Smoke Inhalation
  • Asthma
  • Kennel Cough
  • Stiffening of Airways
  • Fungal Respiratory Infection
  • Bacterial Respiratory Infection
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Medication
  • Heat Stroke
  • Parasites
  • Pneumonia
  • Collapsing Windpipe

What is considered dangerous panting for dogs?

Excessive breathing or panting while a dog is resting can often be a sign that they are experiencing respiratory distress. If you see your pooch exhibiting any of the following signs the first thing you should do is contact your vet immediately, they will inform you of the steps you should take until you reach the animal hospital.

  • Heavy, fast breathing that’s louder or different sounding than normal panting
  • Their panting starts suddenly
  • Open-mouthed breathing while at rest
  • Reluctance to drink, eat or move
  • Pale, blue-tinged, or brick-red gums
  • Out-of-character drooling
  • Noticeably labored breathing (engaging stomach muscles to help breathe)

How will my vet diagnose my dog's nighttime panting?

Your vet will conduct a complete physical examination of your dog to determine the cause of your dog's excessive panting such as a problem in the heart, circulatory system, lungs, airway, neck, head, or another area. The condition of your pup's overall health could also be causing the problem.

Your vet will need to know about any previous medical issues that your pooch has experienced and may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to check the heart, lungs and abdomen for issues such as lung tumors or broken ribs.

Your vet may also take the time to observe for any signs of psychological issues that can cause altered breathing patterns, like anxiety or stress.

How will my dog be treated for excessive panting at night?

When it comes to heavy panting or breathing in dogs, the treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Your vet might prescribe pain relief, intravenous fluids, or other medications to help restore your dog to good health. If your pup's heavy breathing is the result of anxiety or stress, your vet may recommend special training with a certified dog behaviorist.

Rest and oxygen therapy will likely be needed to start your dog along the road to healing. While most dogs will be well enough to be treated at home, in some severe cases hospitalization may be required to monitor the dog's breathing, and to treat the underlying health condition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you found yourself asking why is my dog restless and panting at night? Contact our vets in Clinton Township immediately for urgent care.

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Snider Veterinary Service is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Clinton Township companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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