Canine CareHealth

Is Your Dog Panting and Pacing at Night? Here are the Reasons Why

You may already experienced being waked by your dog panting and pacing in the middle of your sleep at night. It certainly must be a dreadful moment for you, especially if it’s really too late in the evening. However, have you ever thought about why is your dog actually a bit uneasy? Panting and pacing are two behaviors that are indeed common with pet dogs. On the other hand, if they have a regular pattern of occurrence, and they frequently happen during most nights, then you may want to look more into the situation. Yes, you’re thinking right: there must be a problem! And since you’re a responsible and loving fur parent, knowing the facts as to why a dog is panting and pacing at night is the first step before taking necessary actions.

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Today in this blog, we’re going to share the main reasons why your fur baby is displaying such alarming behaviors. At the same time, we’re going to dive in as to how and why these are much more prevalent in older dogs. Furthermore, we don’t want you to leave this site empty-handed. For these reason, we’re also sharing some tips on what to actually do if your dog is exhibiting these actions. Make sure to stick around until the end!

Why Dogs Pant and Pace at Night?

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Restlessness that’s manifesting in the form of your dog panting and pacing at night is said to be merely caused by the following conditions:


The most common reason for these odd behaviors is intense worry in our pets. Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety too. The more pressing problem is that they can’t tell us that they’re feeling that way, so we can’t comfort them right away. For this reason, they find ways to cope by panting and pacing abnormally. Some of the reasons behind anxiety attacks in dogs are various health issues and changes in their lifestyle that they find to be burdensome.

Caused by Vision and Hearing Problems

When dogs are experiencing problems with their eyes and ears, they obtain tons of stresses. They worry about it to the point that they will get extremely uneasy, thus resulting to weird behaviors. Take note also that these behaviors are usually manifested at night since during that time, there’s not so much light and sounds around. At the same time, if it’s a very sudden impairment in their seeing and hearing, they’re certainly going to be stressed.

Change in the Environment or Routine

Another key factor leading up to anxiety attacks in pet dogs is a significant change in their actual living environment. Moreover, alterations in a specific routine that they’ve grown to be really familiar with will also render them restless with much panic.

For example, if you move to a different place, they can be overwhelmed with all the strange things around. Sometimes, new pets in the household can make them feel uneasy too. Additionally, when a really close human friend gets lost for whatever reason, they suffer from abandonment trauma.

CHECK OUT: How to Treat a Dog With Severe Separation Anxiety – Help HERE!

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This is another main reason as to why a dog is panting and pacing at night. The pain felt by the dog can be because of either injuries and/or diseases as well as a result of certain medications if they’re taking one.

Caused by Diseases

A dog’s pain can be because of things as basic as bug bites and itchy skin to really serious health conditions.

They may be suffering from musculoskeletal issues with symptoms such as stiffness, limping, and decreased activity. These muscle as well as joint pains are also very common with dogs that are seven years and older. In addition to this, problems in their digestive system can also cause mild to severe pain. In this case, the panting and the pacing will also be accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, or decreased appetite. Same goes with problems in their urinary tract — inducing huge restlessness.

When something in their body is irritated for whatever reason, they will freak out just like humans.

Medication Side Effects

When your pet dog is taking certain medications, they may have side effects that causes discomfort which then leads to abnormal panting and pacing.

According to Natural Pets HQ, here are some of the medications that have a pain here and there as one of their side effects:

1. Corticosteroids 
Prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and etc. can all make some dogs feel anxious. Moreover, corticosteroids also cause hyped up feelings of thirst, hunger, as well as the strong urge to urinate.

2. Opioids
Opioids such as morphine, buprenorphine, and hydromorphone are all used to treat severe pain in dogs. On the other hand, these drugs can result to immense wakefulness and restlessness when used or when they’re discontinued. At the same time, panting is commonly associated as a top side effect of opioid use in dogs.

3. Phenylpropanolamine
This drug is utilized in order to control urine incontinence in dogs. Most dogs are completely compatible with this medication, meaning that they don’t experience big side effects that can hugely affect them. However, it can make other dogs restless due to its stimulatory effect.

Siberian Husky Leaning on Table

4. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Previcox, and Metacam work wonders for the alleviation of both inflammation and pain. Unfortunately though, they can also cause gastrointestinal irritation. For this reason, NSAIDs might cause your dog to pace and pant due because of the pain and/or nausea resulting from the said irritation.

5. Sedatives
It’s a well-known fact that some dogs will have a paradoxical reaction to sedatives. This means that instead of chilling down and being sleepy, they end up feeling anxious and being alert too. Furthermore, the benzodiazepine drugs are the very much known medications which lead to this paradoxical reactions in dogs. At the same time, there’s also the acepromazine which causes the same hugely irritated behavior in pet dogs.

6. Antihistamines
Last on this list of anxiety-inducing medications for dogs is the antihistamines. Take note that most dogs end up being sleepy or feel no effect from taking this at all. On the other hand, some dogs just really have the tendency to be hyperactive and/or restless.

Panting and Pacing of Senior Dogs

How To Care your Older Dogs
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Let’s talk about how panting as well as pacing at night is very much associated with older dogs.

First of all, it’s a no-brainer that as dogs age, their bodily systems don’t work as efficient as before. For this reason, they will really feel the effects of the “wearing out” that’s just inevitable as they grow up. They are absolutely at high-risk towards injuries and diseases that causes irritability.

At the same time, there’s also the condition called cognitive dysfunction that’s the equivalent of dementia in humans. This is a slow, progressive disorder that unfortunately causes confusion, reversal of day-night wake sleep patterns, as well as very poor adaptability to new situations. All of these will force them to cope by panting and pacing back and forth, especially at night. Furthermore, take note that this is sadly not treatable. The only left option is to alleviate your pet dog’s suffering as much as you can through medications.

What to do when your Dog is Panting and Pacing at Night?

Short-haired Brown Puppy

After knowing that the seemingly innocent behavior of panting and pacing can be a telltale sign of a pressing problem, what to actually do? It’s very much advisable for fur parents to remain calm when your dog is exhibiting such behaviors. Remember that they can pick up on your energy and can really interpret your behaviors. They just have the gift for that. If your dog realizes that you’re actually angry and disappointed at him/her, the dog will be more agitated. So you need to show that you’re neutral and that you’re there for support for whatever they’re going through.

And of course, your petting is very much needed by your dog at the moment of panting and pacing. Physical touch that’s loving by nature will help your pet to relax, even just a bit. Knowing that you’re there for him/her will tone down their worries. For example, if your pet is having an anxiety at night regarding a vision problem, they’re stressed because they’re scared. If you’re there, they will feel more secure. Your dog will know that they won’t face this challenge all alone by themselves.

When your dog is panting and pacing in a new environment, know that this sense of unfamiliarity equates to the threat of danger to dogs. In short, they’re exhibiting odd behaviors because they feel like danger is just looming around the corner. You may certainly prevent this by gradually exposing your pet in the new environment first, rather than just putting them there without any sort of introduction at all. By doing so, you’re emotionally and psychologically preparing them that will already prevent any unnecessary stresses.

Moreover, if your dog has a regular exhibition of panting and pacing at nights, it’s best to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian already. This is the safest action to do since the doctor will be able to diagnose the real deal. From there, you can know that right steps to take after that will really help your pet. The veterinarian will possibly conduct a physical examination, X-rays, ultrasounds, and other special imaging studies. There may also be blood tests, urinalysis, and other tests. Make sure that your dog will be ready for those.

Preventing Your Dog from Panting and Pacing at Night

Beautiful Old Dogs: Touching Portraits of Our Senior Best Friends

At the same time, you can do small things that may actually do a lot for your dog’s overall well-being. For example, make sure that your dog’s diet is at its best. The veterinarian will be able to recommend what foods you should feed your dog that’ll best help with his/her condition. Natural anti-oxidants as well as healthy fats are really beneficial for your dog’s health. Also ensure that your pet is eating as much fresh foods as possible.

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Additionally, vitamins, minerals, and proteins will really be amazing for your dog’s health.

At the same time, you can do small things that may actually do a lot for your dog’s overall well-being. For example, make sure that your dog’s diet is at its best. The veterinarian will be able to recommend what foods you should feed your dog that’ll best help with his/her condition. Natural anti-oxidants as well as healthy fats are really beneficial for your dog’s health. Also ensure that your pet is eating as much fresh foods as possible. Additionally, vitamins, minerals, and proteins will really be amazing for your dog’s health.

Brindle and White American Pit Bull Terrier Puppy Walking Outdoor Holding Green Ball

Furthermore, engage your dog in a regular exercise. Remember that each dog breed is different: some will require a rigorous routine, while some will just need a few minutes of walking. What you need to do is figure out the best for your pet. Exercise will benefit their bodies and at the same time, their minds will be stimulated which is very good for dogs. Even short daily walks can already do miracles! However, if your dog isn’t able to walk for whatever reason, be creative like getting a stroller. Just let your dog see the outside world.

If possible, bring him/her more often with you when you go to certain places, so your pet can see new sights. In addition to these, you can absolutely opt for more fun and interactive toys that will divert their attention away from what they’re worrying about. Improving your dog’s mood can really go a long way!

Final Words

Always bear in mind that dogs can’t communicate what they’re feeling. They heavily rely upon us to be able to have their needs met. Because of this, we really have to be in tune with our pet dog’s demeanor and energy. By doing so, we get to be really bonded with them to the point that in every single action that they do, we know what’s up. This will really come in handy for times when they’re not feeling well. When they’re oddly panting and pacing each and every night, you know now that you must do something. Do your best as a fur parent to alleviate whatever it is that’s bothering them.