25 Reasons a Dog is Panting and Restless: Tips to Help

As devoted pet owners, we always strive to ensure our four-legged companions are happy, healthy, and content. Yet, there are times when our beloved dogs exhibit unusual behaviors that leave us puzzled and concerned. One such behavior that often catches our attention is heavy panting accompanied by restlessness. While it’s natural for dogs to pant to regulate their body temperature, persistent and unexplained panting is not normal behavior. In this blog post, we talk about 25 reasons a dog is panting and restless along with a few tips that dog owners can help to provide their furry friend relief. 

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25 reasons why your dog may be panting and restless

1- Heat and Humidity

Dogs regulate their body temperature through panting, so hot weather can cause them to pant more and feel restless. It’s important to be mindful of heat stroke in dogs and ensure your dog is not outside in very hot conditions to avoid heat exhaustion. 

Tips to help your dog:

  • Provide access to cool, shaded areas and fresh water on a hot day
  • Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest parts of the day or days with high temperatures
  • Be mindful of signs of heatstroke: Rapid or irregular heartbeat, red or pale gums, and/or lack of coordination.

2 – Exercise

Intense physical activity or a long walk can leave dogs panting and restless as they try to cool down and recover.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Gradually increase exercise intensity to improve endurance and reduce exhaustion.
  • Allow for sufficient rest and recovery periods.
  • Be mindful of the amount of exercise your older dogs take on

3 – Anxiety or Stress

Dogs may pant and exhibit restlessness when they are anxious or stressed due to various triggers such as separation anxiety, loud noises, or unfamiliar environments. I watch quite a few dogs through Rover and almost every dog pants the first 30 minutes when they come over from anxiety. New environments cause stress in dogs so it’s important to make them feel as relaxed as possible. 

Tips to help your dog:

  • Create a calm and secure environment
  • If your dog exhibits anxious behaviors in many settings, discuss possible medications with your vet.
  • Click on the Snuggle Puppy below for another great way to reduce your dog’s anxiety

4 – Pain or Discomfort

Underlying pain or discomfort from conditions like arthritis, injury, or gastrointestinal issues can cause panting and restlessness. Wes used to throw his back out all the time as he became older. Too much jumping on and off beds and couches was not good for him but he of course never wanted to use these bed stairs. We knew he required pain meds to handle the joint pain.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Schedule a veterinary visit to identify and treat the underlying cause of pain. As a dog owner, you want to make sure there are no underlying health issues that would cause your dog to be in constant pain
  • Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for pain management. 

5 – Illness or Infection

Certain illnesses, infections, or fevers can elevate a dog’s body temperature, leading to panting and restlessness.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Seek veterinary care for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Find a nearby emergency vet if required.
  • Follow the prescribed medications or treatment protocols

6 – Medication Side Effects

Some medications can cause panting as a side effect, leading to restlessness. Wes had an allergic reaction to the vaccination and was panting quite a bit from it. We were able to get him to the emergency vet in the middle of that night and get him fluids, and allergy meds, and take him home. You can read more about it in this article here.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Consult with your veterinarian to explore alternative medications or adjust the dosage
  • ​Check to see if there is an alternative treatment option that does not involve medications

7 – Respiratory problems

Respiratory issues such as allergies, asthma, or respiratory infections can result in panting and restlessness.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Keep your dog in a clean and dust-free environment. There could be environmental issues that are out of your control so be sure to discuss with your vet if an allergy pill for your dog could help with their respiratory issues. Untreated allergies can definitely lead to heavy breathing. Just think about all the trouble allergies can cause for humans! The same is possible for dogs.
  • The best thing to do is to follow your veterinarian’s advice for managing respiratory issues and treatments options

8 – Heart Condition & Heart Disease

Heart problems like congestive heart failure or heartworm disease can cause difficulty breathing, leading to excessive panting and restlessness.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for medication and lifestyle adjustments.
  • Maintain a low-stress environment and avoid excessive exercise. Seek medical attention immediately if you find your dog unable to control their breathing.
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9 – Obesity

Overweight dogs may struggle with heat regulation, leading to increased panting and restlessness.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Provide a balanced diet and portion control. Be sure to try SundayFoods (Click the image below to try a sample) to see if it’s a good option for your dog to help reduce their weight gain.
  • Incorporate regular exercise into your dog’s routine to ensure their best health.
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10 – Brachycephalic Dogs

Short-nosed breeds, like Bulldogs or Pugs, may pant more due to their anatomical structure, which can cause respiratory difficulties.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Be cautious during hot weather and avoid excessive exercise if you have a breed with a short nose.
  • if your short-nose breed dog is having trouble breathing at any point, be sure to get them calm and rested. Reach out to your vet to ensure there is not an underlying disease or condition that needs to be addressed. Brachycephalic breeds are known to have health issues related to breathing so be sure to keep an eye on your dog, especially in humid weather.
2 bulldogs in harnesses by a lake

11 – Painful Dental Issues

Dental problems, such as tooth decay or gum disease, can cause pain and discomfort, resulting in panting and restlessness. Here in this blog post, you can find signs of tooth pain in your dog.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings for your dog.
  • ​If you have senior dogs, you may notice a loss of appetite. This is a common sign that their teeth may need to be checked. This occurred with my sister-in-law’s dog a while back. As he became older, his teeth began to decay and he wouldn’t eat his food anymore because it was painful. Be sure to discuss different treatment options when it comes to your dog’s teeth having issues.

12 – Poisoning or Toxins

Ingesting toxic substances or certain foods harmful to dogs can cause panting restlessness, and other symptoms. Be mindful of plants that are toxic to your dogs too, like the ones listed in this blog post.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Contact your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline immediately.
  • Follow their instructions for emergency care.

13 – Allergic Reactions

Allergies to certain foods, environmental factors, or insect bites can trigger panting and restlessness.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Identify and avoid allergens when possible.
  • Consult with your veterinarian for appropriate allergy management, including medications or hypoallergenic diets.

14 – Cushing’s Disease

This endocrine disorder can lead to excessive panting, restlessness, and increased water consumption.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan, which may include medication and regular monitoring.
  • Look for a pot-bellied appearance in your dog as this is a common symptom of Cushing’s Disease. 

15 – Hyperthyroidism

Overactive thyroid glands can cause dogs to pant excessively and exhibit restlessness.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Schedule a visit with a veterinarian experienced in treating thyroid disorders to properly diagnose and manage your dog’s hyperthyroidism. They can recommend appropriate medication, dosage adjustments, or other treatment options tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
  • Create a quiet and comfortable space for your dog to relax. Additionally, consider using calming aids, such as pheromone diffusers or calming music, to create a soothing atmosphere.
3 dogs panting

16 – Anemia

Low red blood cell count can lead to an insufficient oxygen supply, causing panting and restlessness.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • Ensure your dog receives a balanced diet with adequate iron.

17 – Heatstroke

In extreme cases, heatstroke can cause severe panting, restlessness, and other life-threatening symptoms.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Immediately move your dog to a cool, shaded area. Even warm weather can cause heat stroke in your dog if they are double coated with their fur. The best way to avoid heat stroke is to keep your dog in cool temperatures or provide breaks in cool temperatures if they enjoy playing outside regardless of the hot temperature. 
  • Apply cool water to their body and contact your veterinarian for further guidance.

18 – Pregnancy

Pregnant dogs may experience increased panting and restlessness as their bodies go through hormonal changes.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Provide a comfortable and quiet space for your pregnant dog.
  • Consult with your veterinarian for proper prenatal care and nutritional guidance.

19 – Age-Related Conditions

Senior dogs may pant more due to age-related ailments like cognitive decline, organ dysfunction, or chronic pain.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Ensure your senior dog receives regular veterinary check-ups.
  • Provide a comfortable and supportive environment, including orthopedic bedding and easy access to food and water.

20 – Excitement or Anticipation

Dogs may pant and become restless when they’re excited or anticipating something, such as mealtime or playtime.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Practice calm and consistent routines to minimize excessive excitement.
  • Engage in appropriate mental and physical stimulation to channel their energy. Check out the great harness from JoyRide by clicking the image below. These are great harnesses to help take your dogs out for a long walk and reduce all that excitement and energy.

21 – Dehydration

Lack of proper hydration can lead to panting and restlessness as dogs try to cool down and replenish fluids.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Provide fresh water at all times. Try a refillable water option to make sure your dog always has water.
  • Monitor your dog’s water intake and encourage drinking.

22 – Lack of Exercise or Mental Stimulation

Insufficient physical activity or mental stimulation can result in restlessness and excess energy, leading to panting.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Increase daily exercise routines to avoid restless behavior that could become destructive.
  • Provide puzzle toys, interactive games, or training sessions to engage your dog mentally.

23 – Noise Phobia

Dogs with noise phobias, such as fear of loud thunderstorms or fireworks, may pant and exhibit restlessness during triggering events. My sister’s dog is terrified of thunderstorms so the 4th of July is never a great time for her and her dog. He becomes an extremely anxious dog and they decided to give him medication during that time of year to try and make him more comfortable. 

Tips to help your dog:

  • Create a safe and quiet space during triggering events.
  • Use noise-masking techniques, such as white noise or calming music.
  • Consider anxiety-reducing products like pheromone diffusers or anxiety wraps.

24 – Hyperactivity or Hyperthyroidism

Some dogs naturally have high energy levels, leading to restlessness and panting.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Engage your dog in daily exercise sessions to help burn off excess energy and promote relaxation. Longer walks or time at a dog park was always helpful for Wes to get all his energy out as a puppy. You can also try doggy daycare. Here is a great blog post on the benefits of doggy daycare.
  • Create a calm and quiet space for your dog to retreat to when they are feeling restless. Provide a comfortable bed and minimize noise and distractions

25 – Respiratory Infections

Infections in the respiratory system, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, can cause panting and restlessness.

Tips to help your dog:

  • Seek prompt veterinary attention to diagnose and treat the respiratory infection. Follow your veterinarian’s prescribed treatment plan, which may include medications such as antibiotics or bronchodilators to alleviate symptoms and help your dog recover.
  • Create a comfortable and clean environment for your dog to rest and recover. Provide a warm and cozy bed, ensure proper ventilation, and keep the area free from irritants such as smoke or strong odors that can worsen respiratory symptoms.

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and if you notice persistent or concerning symptoms in your dog, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Summary

In our blog post titled “25 Reasons a Dog is Panting and Restless: Tips to Help,” we explored a wide range of factors that can contribute to excessive panting and restlessness in our beloved canine companions. From heat and anxiety to pain, illness, and more, we covered the many potential causes behind these behaviors. To assist concerned dog owners, we provided practical tips and approaches for addressing each specific cause. Whether it’s creating a calm environment, seeking veterinary care, implementing exercise routines, or offering mental stimulation, we aim to empower dog owners with actionable strategies to support their furry friends’ well-being. By understanding the reasons behind panting and restlessness and implementing appropriate measures, you can ensure a happier, healthier life for your canine companion.

Comment below if your dog has ever experienced excessive panting.