Why Does My Dog Wake Up Panting At Night

Why Does My Dog Wake Up Panting At Night?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Anxiety, heat stroke, medical conditions, and genetics can all cause your dog to pant at night.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why Does My Dog Wake Up Panting At Night?“.

Nobody in the house is going to sleep well at night when the dog is panting in the middle of the night.

Why Does My Dog Wake Up Panting At Night

You can not tell the dog to go back to sleep by shouting as this is not a behavioral issue.

Theres always a reason why the dog keeps panting when it is restless.

He seems to be bothered by something.

There might be a physical or psychological reason for it.

You must find the cause and resolve whatever is bothering him in order to stop him from waking at night.

A viewer asked “why my dog wakes up in the middle of the night panting?“.

Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs wake up panting in the middle of the night.

Why does my dog wake up panting at night?

It is important to understand panting before we can understand why. 

What is panting?

Cooling is accomplished by panting.

Sweating does not eliminate heat in dogs.

Its impossible for them to get rid of heat through their skin since they only sweat through their paws and thats simply not enough especially for dogs that sleep in a warm house.

The ancestors of your dog spent their nights in the open and needed to conserve heat. 

Inhaling cool air dogs absorb heat from their mouths and upper airways when they pant. Saliva evaporates quickly and has a cooling effect lowering its internal temperature.

Since the dog pants at night we can assume that he is too hot in most cases.

Cooling down / Heat Exhaustion

There may be an isolated case where the dog pants during a hot summer night but that is just because he cannot sleep in the heat. You may experience the same thing.

It is important to be cautious during the hot season due to the possibility that the dog might be experiencing a heat stroke. Panting restlessness and shaking are other signs of heat exhaustion as are panting and panting.

He cannot regulate his body temperature so you must cool him down. Keep him hydrated with cool not ice-cold water. Using a fan you should also wet his head and ears. 

If the dog overexerted himself during a walk or playtime that evening the waking up panting thing could occur as well. 


Occasionally a dog may pant up in the middle of the night if he has had a particularly vivid dream. A dog who dreams of playing catch with his owner or chasing the neighbors cat will pant in the dream and in real life. 

Dogs like humans go through a Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase during their sleep cycle during which they dream. 

Dogs who have agitated dreams may also twitch their legs whimper or bark. 

So if he woke up panting because of this he will probably fall back to sleep soon enough.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety may also cause nighttime panting. You might be worried that why does my puppy wake up panting? Puppy anxiety and dog anxiety are common among puppies and dogs moving to a new home but dogs can be anxious for many reasons. When their favorite human is away for an extended period young dogs often suffer from separation anxiety.

However any change in your family dynamics might affect the dog without you realizing it. Changing the carpet or redecorating the house can cause anxiety to a sensitive dog. Anxiety can be triggered by anything unfamiliar. 

He might also be stressed after witnessing a fireworks display or a loud storm.

As soon as an animal is stressed or anxious the body releases cortisol a hormone whose purpose is to help the animal cope with the situation. This may cause the dogs metabolism to go into overdrive if too much cortisol is produced by the body. This explains why he has to pant and cool down as his internal temperature rises.

When is the dog’s panting at night the sign of a disease?

In the event that a dog that previously slept like an angel starts waking up at night panting it might be the sign of a disease and this is reason enough to take it to the vet. The following are some of the most common health issues that keep your dog awake.


There may be some kind of pain your dog is experiencing whether caused by a disease or physical trauma that you may or may not be aware of. There may be a pain in the joints in older dogs but you need to be aware of any conditions that cause pain the body releases cortisol in response to pain which raises the dogs body temperature which the dog needs to reduce through panting.

Pain like stress is handled by the body by releasing cortisol and this can lead to a higher body temperature which the dog needs to lower through panting. You should also watch the dogs behavior in the day and if you notice worrying symptoms make an appointment with the doctor.

Respiratory issues

He will have trouble getting enough oxygen when he has a respiratory infection such as pneumonia. As a result of too much heat he would pant if he had a fever.

It might not be that the dog is actually panting but that he is breathing rapidly so he can take in more air if he does not have enough oxygen.

Breathing problems are common among brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs or Bulldogs so do not be surprised if they wake up at night.

Cushing’s disease

As a result of this disease the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol causing the dog to overheat. A common symptom of Cushings disease is panting but you might not notice it during the day or you might assume that the dog is running too much. 

Cushings disease is also characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Thirst excessive
  • Putting on weight and gaining a pot belly
  • Infections of the skin
  • Loss of hair
  • Exhaustion

This could indicate that your dog has a tumor; therefore you should see a vet if you observe any of these symptoms. 

In most cases surgery will solve the problem but there are instances when surgery is not an option and your dog will need medication to keep the condition under control.

Heart disease

Respiratory issues can be caused by many types of heart disease including heart failure. Rapid breathing can result from this which can be mistaken for panting.

Why is my senior dog waking up panting at night?

In addition to panting there are several ailments that usually cause pain in older dogs such as arthritis or cancer. 

A dog that is old may need to go potty at night which would cause him to wake up. The dog will frequently wake up because he needs to go when he has kidney disease urinary tract infections diabetes or an upset stomach. It is possible he will get restless if you do not take him out and he may even pant.

Alzheimers disease and cognitive dysfunction are also common problems in elderly pets. The condition is progressive and can also be known as canine dementia. 

As a result of cognitive dysfunction the dog is confused and the day-night cycle is disrupted so he is unaware its the middle of the night and he should be sleeping. Furthermore their declining health and the loss of their senses make elderly dogs anxious.

Cognitive dysfunction cannot be cured. It is only possible to try and make the dog comfortable and to give him medication to relieve his symptoms.

How do you stop a dog from panting at night?

Depending on whats causing the behavior the answer to this question will differ. If you cannot find any specific cause for the nighttime panting take him to the veterinarian for an examination.

Its probably the heat if your dog is young and healthy. It might be helpful for you to move his bed to a cooler spot or to leave his window open at night so he gets enough fresh air. Ensure his bedding is free of blankets and other materials that might keep him warm.

Your dog is likely sensitive to heat if he has trouble sleeping after playing in the sun too much. After sunset walk him in the shade keep him hydrated and take him for a walk after sundown.

If your dog seems to be stressed or anxious try to find out what is causing it. It may be a good idea to arrange other arrangements so the dog does not feel lonely. Make sure he is kept company during the day by someone who can walk with him. If thats not possible buy him some intelligent toys or make some yourself to keep him occupied and leave the radio on while you’re away or play some soothing music.

Show him a lot of love when you get home pet him give him a treat and play with him. Consider creating a bedtime ritual such as giving your dog a good belly scratch before you go to sleep. If he does this he may sleep better and not wake up until the light of day. 


The next time your dog wakes up panting at night look beyond your frustration and try to figure out whats wrong. The problem could be physical or psychological. No matter what you must address the root cause if you want to sleep well. 

In most cases the dog is too hot and you need to help him cool down. If your dog has anxiety figure out what’s bothering him and give him more attention.

With senior dogs there’s not much you can do other than help him cope with the health issue he has. See a vet and get him meds that can help him keep whatever pain he’s in under control. And give him some extra love!

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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