13 Reasons Your Dog Is Panting and Restless

Pet parents are understandably frustrated when their beloved fur baby is panting and restless. Since she can’t tell her pet parents what hurts, panting and pacing is all she can do. Pet parents might not think anything of it, but these are symptoms of a health problem they should know about.

Dogs’ systems aren’t like other animals or humans. Panting, as most pet parents know, gives them relief from the heat (like sweating does for humans) as well as stress relief. What pet parents need to know is some of the reasons dogs pant and are restless.

1. Liver Activity

Short-coated black dog showing his tongue

Food and liquids are processed through the liver, where toxic things are removed from said food and water. The toxicity then passes in waste product. A dog’s liver does its thing between one and three in the morning.

Dogs tend toward weak or diseased livers. Toxic environmental issues (like chewing grass sprayed with pesticides,) and not enough attention or exercise with her family can and does manifest as liver disease.

If she pants excessively and paces the floor or gets up and down too much in the early morning, get her to a vet pronto. She’s telling you her liver is in trouble.

2. Pain

Just like humans breathe shallow and quick when they’re in pain, dogs pant the same way. Her breath could be shallow if she feels pain. If she hasn’t been exercising, she will begin panting well before she begins crying, whining, limping, or moving slowly.

Your dog can’t be comfortable if something hurts her. She’ll have her tail tucked between her legs, she won’t play, or snuggle with her people, and she might not even bark. Pacing the floor is the only way she knows to let you know there’s a problem.

3. Anxiety

Your dog could suffer anxiety for lots of reasons: she can have an aversion to riding in cars, loud noises like backfiring or revving deep, throaty engines, crowds, or unwellness. Some breeds are simply nervous, no matter what the provocation. Some rescue dogs have anxiety from suffering abuse from former owners.

Anxiety presents in one of three ways. It manifests in a dog hiding under something, biting whatever or whomever she fears, or panting heavily and pacing restlessly.

Restlessness occurs in many ways such as sleeplessness, pacing, getting up and down or can’t get comfortable. Get her to a vet, because the base issue could be serious.

4. Poison

A puppy with the USA flag

In an ideal world, our dogs wouldn’t eat rat or mouse poison, lap up motor oil or antifreeze, or chew grass or plants sprayed with insecticides. Nor would they suffer when someone slipped them chocolate, raisins, or anything with garlic on it.

The signs of poisoning show up within the first couple hours of ingestion. Panting and restlessness will be one of the first signs the dog shows that something is wrong. If you suspect poison, like seeing candy wrappers or a neighbor working in the yard with a sprayer, then get the dog to a vet immediately.

5. Heat Exhaustion

The more a dog runs, exercises, and plays in summer, the closer she is to getting heat stroke. If you notice her drinking excessively, if her eyes are glazed and her body temperature above normal, in addition to panting and restlessness, then it’s a sure bet she has heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion works within 15 minutes. She will pant heavily and quickly (the more heat, the heavier the panting,) dehydration will cause kidney damage, and the brain will swell, causing seizures. Restlessness won’t have time to enter the picture.

You only have a very small window of time to get her to a doctor before fun in the sun costs her her life.

6. Heart Disease Or Attack

A brown and white Siberian husky standing near the river

It’s the same for humans as well as animals: oxygen makes its way throughout the body in the bloodstream. Organs and muscles need it to function properly. It can only be introduced into the bloodstream through the lungs, which means breathing.

Oxygen comes into the lungs and goes to the heart through an artery. It goes through the heart and out into the bloodstream through another artery. Then the body can begin using it.

In time, the dog’s heart will slow down and be unable to pump as much blood as it used to, thus being unable to process the oxygen it’s getting. The body will begin to suffer from the lack of oxygen, eventually shutting down altogether. The only alternative to this is to suck in more oxygen, or pant like crazy.

As with heat exhaustion, restlessness isn’t even an issue. If you have an older dog, or you suspect your dog may be having heart troubles, get her to the vet immediately, if not sooner.

7. Anemia

Anemia is severely low red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body in the bloodstream. If the body is starved of oxygen, it begins to shut down.

The gums will look pale pink or white, the dog will act confused, won’t eat, can’t or won’t exercise, she’ll lie around in a weakened state, and she’ll pant. As with heart disease or heart attack, she won’t be able to get oxygen into her body unless she pants hard and fast, so the pacing the floor of restlessness might not be a problem. Get her to a vet as soon as possible if you notice these symptoms.

8. Obesity

A dog fawn pug with a long tongue

Pet parents love their dogs and plan endless treats and special things for them. The snag to that is manifesting all that love means an obese dog. She’ll end up with diabetes, heart conditions, and arthritis, to name just a few medical concerns.

One of the causes of obesity in dogs is not enough exercise. Dogs know what’s good for them, and they know that walking around the house will help get them back in shape. In this case, it’s not so much restlessness, as getting some small amount of exercise.

Panting is when an obese dog simply can’t waddle around the yard without passing out. She pants heavily in order to get oxygen into her chest, so that it can be processed throughout her body. Get her to the vet, put her on a diet, and show her you love her with a new teddy bear or a run in the dog park instead of a new chewy treat.

9. Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s Disease is when the dog’s adrenal glands produce more of the hormone cortisol. This is the “fight or flight” hormone and is released in small amounts into a dog’s system for the relief of stress. When too much is released, toxicity enters your dog’s body along with glucose from the liver.

This sounds like a good thing, but the other effects of this release isn’t: blood sugar rises, causing thinning of the skin and hair. Blood pressure rises, causing loss of muscle and bone mass. Burning the glucose means the dog is hungry.

If you notice your dog with an unnatural thirst which will lead to unnatural urination, weight gain, and excessive panting and restlessness, then have her checked out by the vet. Cushing’s Disease is often missed by doctors, because the symptoms look like a dozen other medical problems.

10. Respiratory Conditions

Laryngeal paralysis and pneumonia are part of the reasons respiratory diseases could plague your dog. If she’s a pug, Boston terrier, or bulldog, then she’ll have another reason to pant excessively and be restless. It will be because that’s what her breed does.

Their noses are generally mashed into their faces, which means their air passages aren’t as long or big as their larger-nosed brethren. This means trouble breathing, which means a whole lot of panting.

There’s not a lot pet parents can do about it except to watch for increased or harder panting and perhaps restlessness. They could be signs of heat exhaustion or heart problems. Get her to a vet as soon as possible.

11. Boredom

A white and black Bernese mountain dog

Have you ever noticed that when you get bored, you either pick up the car keys to go find some action, or you start cleaning something? Dogs are the same as we in that they will pant or pace the floor for want of something to do. They might even do them simultaneously.

If you’ve ruled out serious illnesses, then take the dog for a walk. Dog parks will give her society of the furry type. Taking her along as you run, jog, or walk will give her something to do, and it will be even better, because she’s running, jogging, or walking with you.

12. Sundowning

In humans, it’s called Alzheimer’s Disease. The patient is confused, forgetful, and restless. The only difference between humans and dogs is that humans don’t pant.

Your elderly dog could manifest the signs of cognitive dysfunction. In addition to the confusion and forgetfulness, there will be anxiety. She knows something is wrong, but she doesn’t understand what it is, what she did wrong, or why it’s happening to her.

She will pant and wander around restlessly. This gives her an outlet for all that anxiety and confusion. Be gentle and kind to her, and try to understand what she feels.

13. Sudden Changes In Diet

Changes in your dog’s diet affect her in different ways. She could be getting lots of filler and very little in the way of real nutrition. She could be getting the wrong combination of meats and vegetables for her breed or body type.

These types of food changes can leave her gassy or lethargic. Panting and restless pacing will tell you something is wrong. Talk to your vet about the changes and ask him to recommend a good brand of food for her.

Why Is My Dog Panting So Much? (Video)

10 thoughts on “13 Reasons Your Dog Is Panting and Restless”

  1. My dog (a collie X) lies in the hall and pants and claws at carpets without getting up she does have arthritis and in on anti inflammatory drug occasionally, have already spoken to the vet but didn’t get much response. She actually clawed a hole in bedroom carpet. I already give her glaucosamine for her joints but don’t know what else to do

      • My dog was up all night panting and pacing. Calmed down for a while and sleep. He seems to be going up and down the stairs slow where he usually runs up and down. Not much of an appetite lately. But he did eat some boiled chicken and rice today. Now he is just sleeping. Any answers

    • Wondering if you got an answer. Sounds like your fur baby is uncomfortable. Guessing she is older since she has arthritis. I had to take my dog off of grains and any food with chicken and she started doing better since the specialist I took her to in Dallas said grains and chicken are inflammatory. My dog was about 2 years old then and now she is 16 years old and she’s a big dog. I do believe their diet can have a lot to do with problems that arise. She was also on prednisone intermittently for about a year which did also seem to help. She would have what I called crisis scratching episodes. Was pretty pathetic. Also put her on fish oil supplements. I cut the gel cap and squeezed it onto food. It’s not an immediate fix but over time it did help. Sorry this reply is late. I was looking for answers for a different dog with skin issues and saw your post.

  2. My dog did this, then started getting up during the night and getting lost & crying… dementia!!! Put on meds that use to be used for human and he cane good!

  3. All of a sudden my dog is up and walking around going everywhere seems very uncomfortable she acts like she’s looking for a place to poop only she’s already pooped outside. Have not given her anything unusual but she did have some goats milk for dogs that I think was outdated.

  4. Help my dog is dying at my folks n were in code red lockdown. My heart is breaking not being there 4 him. I cant have where l live but call everyday.

  5. my dog started panting a lot more after i brought him to the vet. not sure what they did to him, but he’s very different now.

  6. Hi im jason my dog just lost her puppy she only had one i took her to the vet to make sure everything was ok then i took her home the next day she started panting scratching the floor not eating right just stares at me some times i wish i new wat happend to shes also realy grumpy now shes never been like this please tell me if u got an answer from any one esle please my puppy loves is all i have


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