Understand the Reasons Behind Dogs Panting in the Car: A Comprehensive Guide for Dog Owners

As a pet owner, you may have noticed your furry friend panting heavily while riding in the car. While it may seem like just a normal behavior, there could be several underlying causes that lead to excessive panting in dogs while in a moving vehicle. In this dog article, we’ll explore the reasons why dogs pant in the car and what you can do to help keep your pooch comfortable and relaxed during road trips.

In some cases, excessive panting in dogs can be a sign of a health problem. However, it is not always an indicator of a health issue, as panting is a normal behavior for dogs in many situations. If your dog is panting excessively, especially in combination with other symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, restlessness, or changes in appetite or energy levels, it is best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and the best course of action.

Additionally, panting can also be a sign of overheating, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening for dogs. It is important to provide adequate ventilation, shade, and water to help prevent overheating, especially during hot weather.

The most common reasons why dogs are panting inside vehicles

As a dog owner, it’s essential to understand why your furry companion may exhibit this behavior to ensure their comfort and safety while traveling. Panting in dogs is a natural physiological response that helps regulate body temperature and manage stress. However, panting can intensify during car rides due to various factors.

In this section, we will explore these reasons in detail, shedding light on both physical and psychological causes behind this behavior. By gaining a deeper understanding of why dogs pant in the car, you’ll be equipped with valuable insights to address the issue effectively and provide a more enjoyable travel experience for your beloved four-legged friend.

So, let’s delve into the most common reasons behind dogs panting during car rides and discover practical tips to help your furry companion stay calm and comfortable on the road. The following list includes some of the most common reasons why dogs are constantly panting while travelling:


One of the most common reasons for panting in dogs is overheating. Dogs do not have sweat glands like humans, so they rely on panting to regulate their body temperature and cool down. If the air inside the car is hot and humid, your dog may start panting excessively to dissipate heat and cool down.

Anxiety or stress

Another common reason why dogs are panting a lot is related to anxiety or stress. While in the car, the stress hormone may be released excessively which can also cause panting in dogs. Some dogs may become nervous when they are in a moving vehicle, and this can lead to increased heart rate, panting, and stress. If your dog has a history of anxiety or stress, it is important to take steps to keep them calm during car rides, such as providing a comfortable bed, toys, and treats.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is another common reason for heavily panting in dogs while in the car. Just like humans, some dogs can become nauseous and experience motion sickness while riding in a moving vehicle. If your dog is prone to motion sickness, you may notice excessive panting, drooling, or vomiting.


Excitement can also cause panting in dogs while in the car. If your dog loves going for car rides, they may get very excited when they see you getting ready to hit the road. This excitement can lead to panting, barking, and jumping around in the car. In this type of situations panting is normal for a common dog that gets excited.

Dog panting at night
Dog panting at night

Dogs panting at night

In some cases, panting at night may be related to a medical condition such as respiratory or cardiovascular disease, and it is important to rule out any underlying medical causes before attributing it to stress or anxiety. If you are concerned about your dog panting at night, it is best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

If it feels that your dog is dealing with abnormal panting you should call your vet as soon as possible, or take your doggy to the closest emergency vet since this is considered a medical emergency.

Dogs panting at night can be a sign of stress or anxiety, and elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can play a role in this behavior. Panting is normal for a common dog as a response for the evaporation of water.

This is one way that dogs regulate their body temperature, but it can also occur as a response to physical or emotional stress. When a dog is stressed or anxious, the body releases cortisol, which can cause an increase in heart rate and body temperature, leading to panting.

How to Treat or Prevent dog panting a lot at night

Panting in dogs at night can be a cause for concern, as it may indicate underlying health issues or general discomfort. Here are some tips to help treat or prevent dogs from panting excessively at night:

  • Ensure a Comfortable Sleeping Environment: Create a cool, well-ventilated space for your dog to sleep in. Provide a comfortable bed and consider using a cooling pad or fan to help regulate their body temperature.
  • Keep Hydration in Check: Ensure your dog has access to fresh water throughout the day and especially before bedtime. Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature and can reduce excessive panting.
  • Maintain a Consistent Bedtime Routine: Establishing a consistent routine can help your dog feel secure and relaxed at night. Provide regular exercise during the day to promote physical tiredness and a more restful sleep.
  • Check for Underlying Health Issues: Excessive panting at night could be a symptom of an underlying health problem such as pain, anxiety, or respiratory issues. If the panting persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, consult with a veterinarian for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment.
  • Manage Anxiety and Stress: Dogs can experience anxiety or stress that disrupts their sleep. Create a calm and soothing environment by using white noise machines, calming music, or natural remedies like lavender oil or pheromone diffusers. In severe cases, consult with a professional dog behaviorist for guidance.
  • Avoid Overfeeding Before Bedtime: Large meals or high-calorie treats close to bedtime can cause discomfort and contribute to panting. Feed your dog a few hours before bedtime and avoid giving heavy meals or rich foods.
  • Consider Cooling Products: If your dog is prone to overheating, consider using cooling vests, bandanas, or mats designed to regulate body temperature. These products can help keep your dog cool and reduce panting.

Remember, each dog is unique, and the underlying causes of panting at night can vary. It’s important to observe your dog’s behavior, consult with a veterinarian if needed, and tailor your approach based on their individual needs. By addressing potential triggers and providing a comfortable sleep environment, you can help alleviate excessive panting and promote better rest for your furry friend.

Senior dogs panting at night

Senior dog panting at night
Senior dog panting at night

One particular reason for a senior dog panting at night might be the dog’s age. This can be considered a contributing factor to constantly panting, specially for senior dogs. As dogs age, their bodies undergo various changes, and their ability to regulate body temperature may decline. Older dogs may have a harder time dissipating heat efficiently, leading to increased panting as a means to cool down.

Additionally, certain health conditions become more common in older dogs, such as respiratory issues, heart problems, or hormonal imbalances, which can also contribute to increased panting. It’s essential to monitor your aging dog closely and consult with a veterinarian if you notice any changes in their panting patterns or if they exhibit other concerning symptoms.

Furthermore, senior dogs may experience cognitive decline or anxiety, which can lead to restlessness and increased panting, particularly during the night. Providing a comfortable and stress-free sleeping environment, as well as addressing any underlying health issues, can help manage panting in older dogs and promote their overall well-being.

If you have an older dog exhibiting excessive panting, it’s always recommended to consult with a veterinarian for a comprehensive examination to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment or management strategies.

Health diseases and conditions that may cause panting for dogs

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a common condition that affects dogs with short, flat faces, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers. These dog breeds have a combination of facial characteristics that make it difficult for them to breathe, including short snouts, narrow nostrils, elongated soft palates, and redundant tissue in the throat, tongue and gums.

Treatment of BOAS depends on the severity of the condition, but may include weight management, environmental modifications, medications to manage symptoms, and in severe cases, surgical correction of the airway abnormalities to regulate the heavy breathing. If you suspect that your dog has BOAS, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible to check the respiratory tract of your canine companion.

The result of these anatomic abnormalities is that air has difficulty flowing into and out of the lungs, which can lead to heavy breathing difficulties and other symptoms. Common signs of BOAS include snoring, snorting, gagging, coughing, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance. In severe cases, dogs with BOAS may experience respiratory distress, collapse, and even heart failure and death, particularly when exposed to stress or exercise.

Laryngeal paralysis is typically seen in older dogs, especially large breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. It can also occur as a result of other underlying conditions, such as nerve damage or muscle weakness. If you suspect that your dog has laryngeal paralysis, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Treatment may include medications to manage symptoms, surgery to correct the issue, or a combination of both.

In dogs normal breathing, the larynx opens and closes to allow air to flow into and out of the lungs. However, in dogs with laryngeal paralysis, the larynx may remain partially or completely closed, making it difficult for the dog to inhale and exhale properly. This can result in an increased breathing rate and effort, leading to heavy panting in dogs.

Laryngeal paralysis is a condition in which the muscles of the larynx, or voice box, are unable to open and close properly, making it difficult for a dog to breathe. This condition can cause panting in dogs, as the dog tries to compensate for the increased effort required to breathe.

What you can do to help your dog

  • Ensure Proper Ventilation: One of the best ways to prevent overheating in dogs while in the car is to ensure proper ventilation. Keep windows cracked to allow fresh air to circulate and bring in cool air from outside. You can also use a fan or air conditioning to keep the air inside the car cool and comfortable for your dog. This will allow your canine companion to start cooling themselves specially in hot days when most needed.
  • Provide a Comfortable Bed: Providing a comfortable bed for your dog to lay on while in the car can help reduce anxiety and stress. A soft bed can provide a sense of security and comfort, helping your dog feel relaxed and calm during car rides.
  • Try Anti-Nausea Medications: If your dog is prone to motion sickness, you can try giving them anti-nausea medications before car rides. Call your vet and talk about the best veterinary medicine options for your pet.
  • Offer Treats and Toys: Offering treats and toys can help distract your dog and reduce anxiety while in the car. You can also try playing games, such as hide-and-seek, to help keep your dog engaged and calm during car rides.

Breeds and dog types prone to panting

There are also certain breeds and types of dogs are more prone to panting than others. Here are some examples:

  • Brachycephalic breeds: Dogs with short snouts, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers, are prone to panting due to their respiratory anatomy. They have a smaller airway and more difficulty breathing, which can lead to excessive panting.
  • Overweight dogs: Obesity can contribute to breathing difficulties and increase panting in dogs. Therefore, in order to raise healthy dogs it is important to watch and adjust their daily diet, lifestyle and activity.
  • Dogs with medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, and thyroid disorders, can lead to increased panting.
  • Dogs with thick coats: Dogs with thick fur coats, such as Retrievers and Huskies, may pant more during hot weather to regulate their body temperature.
  • Active dogs: Active dogs, such as sporting breeds and herding breeds, may pant more due to increased physical activity and heat dissipation. If you notice a dog panting heavily after this kind of activity make sure the dogs body is cooling properly and provide enough water for hydration afterwards.

While any dog can pant, certain breeds and types of dogs are more prone to excessive panting due to their anatomy, medical conditions, coat type, or activity level. If you have any concerns about your dog’s panting, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Excessively panting dog breeds

Panting Bulldog
Panting Bulldog

It’s worth noting that certain dog breeds are more prone to panting than others. Some breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, have flat faces and short snouts, which can make it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature. As a result, they tend to pant more often to cool down. Other breeds, such as retrievers, have thicker coats and tend to pant more when they are hot or overexerted. Therefore it is important to keep your dog cool in any situation. Additionally, dogs with underlying medical conditions, such as heart or lung problems, may pant more frequently as well.

In conclusion, panting in dogs while in the car can be caused by several factors, including overheating, anxiety, motion sickness, and excitement. By taking steps to ensure proper ventilation, provide a comfortable bed, offer treats and toys, and try anti-nausea medications, you can help keep your dog comfortable and relaxed during car rides. If you have any concerns about your dog’s excessive panting and for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, it is always best to call your vet.

While panting is a normal behavior for common dogs in many situations, excessive or abnormal panting can be a sign of a health problem, overheating, or other issues. If you have any concerns about your dog’s panting, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian for advised causes and treatment information. Do not hesitate to ask for professional help if panting seems unusual as this could be considered a medical vet emergency.

As a disclaimer, these guidelines are only suggestions in our dog articles and they should not be considered medical recommendations or displace any advised references.