Why is my Dog Panting and Restless When Not Hot?
Pet Health Questions and Answers

Why Is My Dog Panting and Restless When Not Hot?

It’s easy to understand why your dog is panting when it’s hot. But what about when your dog is panting and restless even when it’s not hot?

A panting, restless dog can be exhibiting signs of pain, stress, or an underlying health condition. You’ll need to examine their behavior to pick up clues for the cause, and consult your vet if you’re worried.

Panting helps to quicken the pace of evaporation on the tongue. It’s not the same as ‘sweat,’ as you and I know it, but the concept is very similar. The quicker dogs can get rid of the excess moisture, the faster they can cool down. As a pet owner, you have a good idea of how much your dog pants.

There are many perfectly healthy and normal reasons for a dog to be breathing hard. These range from temporary physical exertion to over-excitement due to a friendly visitor (dog or human). A dog doesn’t sweat the way human beings do, so panting is necessary for them to cool off.

A normal rate for panting pups can be anywhere from 300 to 400 breaths per minute. While panting itself might seem like it’s burning up a lot of energy, it’s completely natural and calming to your dog in most situations. However, there is a difference between normal panting, excessive heavy breathing, and restless behavior in dogs.

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Why Is My Dog Panting and Restless When He’s Not Hot?

Again, normal panting occurs when your dog is trying to cool themselves down or calm down. It can happen for a variety of reasons and isn’t anything to worry about.

However, there are signs of abnormal panting you can start to look for, including:

  • Excessive panting in comparison to the way your dog normally breathes.
  • Panting that seems to take excessive effort.
  • Louder pants, or heavy, quick breathing with unfamiliar sounds.

labrador puppy panting with mouth open

So, what are some common causes of abnormal panting and restlessness? If your dog isn’t overheated, and should otherwise be calm, but is still expressing abnormal breathing and restless behaviors, consider the following possible causes:

Pain & Discomfort

Sometimes, dogs will react to pain or discomfort by frequently panting. Your dog can’t come up to you and let you know that they’re not feeling great, or are in pain. So, panting is a good first indicator that something could be wrong.

Monitor your dog to see if they are panting excessively, or at ‘abnormal’ times, like in the middle of the night, when they are resting, etc.

Flights & Car Travel

Whether by car or plane, some dogs get stressed out and anxious about traveling. Sometimes, it’s easy to mistake this type of anxiety for excitement at first, especially if your dog is panting quite a bit. So, look for restlessness to go along with the heavier panting.

If your dog seems generally anxious when they’re traveling, you may want to take steps to calm them. Other signs to look for are excessive salivation and drooling, barking, trembling, or even vomiting.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal issues in dogs can cause several serious problems. Excessive panting is a symptom to look out for, especially if your dog may have Cushing’s Disease. This typically occurs in older dogs when there is an excess level of the hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol works against your dog’s immune system, but the good news is that it can be treated.

Along with excessive panting, look for the following symptoms for hormonal imbalances:

  • Hair loss
  • Drinking to excess
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain

Sudden Dietary Changes

Your dog’s diet can affect them in several ways, including causing restless behavior. If you’ve recently changed your dog’s brand of food or introduced something new to their meal plan, keep watch for any behavioral or physical changes.

Some foods can cause bloating and gas. That kind of discomfort not only can cause them to appear restless and anxious but again, can make them pant excessively. If your dog looks as though their stomach is bloated, it’s crucial to get them checked over by a vet.


Anemic dogs have a harder time allowing oxygen to flow through the body. Because of their reduced amount of red blood cells, they have to work harder to get oxygen where it needs to be in the body. If you have a dog with anemia, they’re likely to show signs of that ‘extra work.’ One of the major signs is excessive panting, along with lethargy, loss of appetite, and occasional collapsing.

An anemic dog who doesn’t have treatment right away can be in danger. Some of these symptoms can be fatal. Anemia is something that will likely have to be treated for your dog’s entire life, but it can be easily managed with the right medication.

What Can I Do About My Dog’s Excessive Panting?

Keep in mind that some dog breeds are more prone to excessive panting. Breeds like Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, and Pugs have a predisposition toward breathing inefficiency, which typically needs to be handled on an individual basis.

However, if your dog is experiencing any abnormal symptoms, and you feel as though they may have a more significant issue, the best thing you can do is seek out treatment from a vet. For most health issues, medication can be prescribed for the condition.

That’s why it’s so vital to note down of as many of your dog’s symptoms as possible. Restlessness and excessive panting alone can mean many different things, both natural and unnatural. So, pay attention to the other symptoms. The more you’re able to tell your vet, the better.

If your dog seems anxious or scared without reason, there are different calming techniques you can put into practice. In extreme cases, you can also use various sedative-type medications for anxiety.

Normal panting is nothing to be worried about. However, if your dog is panting and restless when they’re not hot, keep a close eye on them. If you notice other symptoms going hand-in-hand with their excessive panting, be sure to seek medical assistance from a veterinarian.