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Why is My Dog Panting and Restless?

A logical answer to why your dog is panting and restless is literally cooling off. Dogs lack sweat glands, at least the ones that have a role in thermoregulation so they release extra body heat and excessive moisture through the process of panting.

While our blog’s mascot is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, this article applies to all breeds.

Normal Panting

Different dogs have a different rate of panting. The increased rate can be observed in brachycephalic breeds of dogs because of the abnormal bone to organ ratio in their bodies. Dogs tend to pant faster when the weather is hot, after physical exercise and when they need to relax.

Cooling Off

When dogs are tired or trying to cool off, panting can be a response to that.

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Dogs in Heat

When dogs are in heat, they can also exhibit signs of restlessness and panting.  If in heat, some remedies include giving your dog attention, exercise, leaving toys and treats out, medicine, or spaying your dog.

Anxiety Symptoms

Dogs who are not used to their surroundings or may have anxiety can exhibit signs of restlessness and panting.

Giving your dog water and encouraging or comforting them can help with these symptoms.

Supplements may also help alleviate these symptoms.

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Abnormal Panting – Why is My Dog Panting for No Reason?

Every owner knows his/her own dog and can notice whether the dog is panting like he always does or not. If the dog starts panting excessively and becomes restless when the weather isn’t hot, when it hasn’t exercised but increases the panting rate then there might be a pathologic underlying cause for this. The situation is called abnormal panting.

You can look for signs such as excessive panting, panting with more effort than usual and louder and unfamiliar sound. It’s time to visit the vet!

Reasons for Abnormal Panting and Restlessness

Is Panting a Sign of Pain and Discomfort in a Dog?

One of the most common causes of abnormal panting and restless behavior is pain and discomfort. This includes pain due to physical trauma (muscle and skeletal dysfunctions) or internal diseases (ex. stomach ache).

How Can You Tell When a Dog is in Pain?

Panting due to pain can be most clearly observed while the dog is resting and lying on the ground.

Anemia in Dogs

In cases of anemia, the dog has either an insufficient number of erythrocytes in the bloodstream or insufficient concentration of hemoglobin. In both cases, the body’s capability of transporting enough oxygen to all organs and tissues is reduced so the system fights back by excessive panting. Anemia is a symptom, not a specific disease and is also characterized by collapsing, lethargy, decreased appetite and pale gums. This requires immediate veterinary attention.

Dietary Mistakes

Dietary mistakes are not so obvious cause of restlessness and panting yet quite a frequent one. Dog’s need to adapt to new food, if there is a reason for it, step by step. Quick dietary changes can cause bloating. This is a situation when the digestive system is filled with gas pressuring the surrounding organs and making the dog nervous and restless. Beside the restlessness, most of the times dog start panting out of the ordinary in order to calm themselves down. The most serious outcome of bloating is torsion of the stomach. In both cases the abdomen is distended is painful at the touch.


Hyperadrenocorticism is a hormonal disease primarily caused by tumors of the adrenal glands. The concentration of the hormone cortisol elevates and causes a variety of symptoms, including excess panting and restlessness. Other symptoms to look for are hair loss, excess drinking, and excess urinating, weight gain, weakness and lethargy.

Heart or Lung Disorder

Any disorder affecting the heart and the lungs can be manifested with abnormal panting because these organs are directly connected to the process of breathing.

As we mentioned before, some breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers are genetically predisposed to respiratory distress and the only way to help them is with surgical intervention.

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