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Why is My Dog Panting and Restless?

dog panting and restless featured image

Fact checked by Dr. Antoinette Martin, DVM

Dogs pant and become restless for many reasons. In some cases, the behavior change can be triggered by pain, as dogs experiencing any pain or discomfort will often become agitated, restless, and pant more frequently than before the issue started. With that said, pain is not the only cause of excessive panting and restlessness. As dog parents, it is important to pick up on these cues about your dog’s health and know when to reach out for help.

How Can We Help?

One of the quickest and easiest ways to get to the bottom of your dog’s panting and restlessness is to book an online vet appointment with one of our Hello Ralphie veterinarians. Through a virtual vet appointment, one of our highly qualified veterinarians will be able to determine if your dog is experiencing pain and discomfort.

Sometimes abdominal discomfort or nausea can also cause other clinical signs. If your dog is experiencing other clinical signs, like vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, or lethargy, it is very important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. There are many conditions, including heart failure, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heart disease, and laryngeal paralysis. A Hello Ralphie consultation can narrow down where your dog is experiencing discomfort, and we may be able to provide advice on medication or the next steps to help your dog feel better!

What if Pain and Discomfort are Not the Cause?

If pain or discomfort is not the cause of heavy panting, your dog is likely exhibiting panting and restless behavior is likely due to underlying stress, fear, or anxiety. Anxiety is the most common cause of panting and restlessness in dogs without other clinical signs. Just like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety that can negatively impact their health and happiness and causes changes to the dog’s behavior.

dog looking out window waiting his owner

Anxiety can occur when dogs are left alone for long periods, especially when they are not used to being separated from their pet parent. In the veterinary field, we call this separation anxiety. Separation anxiety has become much more common during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people work from home and leave the house less frequently.

Stress is a serious issue with new pet owners that purchased or adopted a new cat or dog during the pandemic. With COVID-19 forcing many new pet owners to spend more time at home with their new puppies than they otherwise would, their pets have become accustomed to rarely being left alone.

For more information about separation anxiety and the impacts of COVID-19 on your dog’s anxiety levels, read through our Preventing Dog Separation Anxiety During Covid guide.

Destructive Behavior and Increased Aggression:

Now that people are gradually starting to go back to work, dogs used to seeing their owners throughout the day are suffering from separation anxiety when left alone. Separation anxiety is a serious cause of stress and panic for dogs. When their anxiety worsens, it can lead to destructive behaviors, such as chewing and damaging furniture and baseboards, as well as other issues, like urinating in the house.

If your dog is exhibiting these behaviors, you should try to address the underlying cause rather than allowing yourself to become frustrated and angry with the dog. Often, destructive behavior results from a dog feeling nervous and stressed, and in many cases, they cannot help what they are doing.

If the dog’s anxiety issues are not addressed, it can eventually lead to increased levels of fear, which can result in aggression. This type of aggression is called fear aggression, which, in some cases, can lead to biting.

sad lonely dog looking out from window

What Can You Do to Address Separation Anxiety Issues?

If you suspect your dog is experiencing clinical signs of separation anxiety, a consultation with a Hello Ralphie online veterinarian can help address the issue. A virtual veterinarian can offer medical advice and tips on how to best manage and help your anxious pet!

A Hello Ralphie veterinarian can also provide more information regarding training for your anxious dog. An online vet can give you the advice you need to gradually and safely help your dog become comfortable with being left alone. Best of all, a virtual vet appointment can be conducted from the comfort of your own home, which means you will not have to further add to your dog’s anxiety by transporting it to an in-person clinic.

Panting and Restlessness That Occurs When You are with Your Dog:

Does your dog pant and become restless when you are home? It could mean they are experiencing other forms of anxiety. One of the most common causes of anxiety amongst dogs is loud noises.

Dogs that suffer from noise-related anxiety usually pant and become restless when they hear loud noises, like thunder and fireworks. Often, they will also attempt to hide in tight spaces that they would otherwise avoid.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from noise-related anxiety, a Hello Ralphie online veterinarian can diagnose the issue and offer advice to help your dog more comfortable when exposed to loud noises.

You can also read through our Helping Pets Who Dread the Fourth of July guide, which helps pet owners address noise-related anxiety.

Other Signs of Anxiety and Stress

Dogs that are experiencing anxiety-related issues can also show signs other than panting and restlessness. Common signs include repeated and excessive yawning, licking or chewing one specific area of their body (usually their feet), or repeated whining and crying. Some dogs will also bark repeatedly, which can cause friction with neighbors.

What Can You Do?

An online vet consultation connects you to a veterinarian who can also give you recommendations on managing your dog’s anxiety. Just like with people, every dog is different. A virtual vet appointment can be used to formulate a treatment plan that is tailored specifically to your dog’s individual needs.

Outside of a vet appointment, several tips and tricks can help ease your dog’s anxiety. If your dog paces and pants at home from separation anxiety or loud noises, a thunder shirt may be something you could consider. These work the same way as weighted blankets do for humans. They are tight-fitting, weighted shirts that dogs wear to help them feel safe and less anxious.

An online veterinarian can help you determine if a thunder shirt is a good option for you and your pet. We can also discuss different supplements and medicated diets you can give to your dog to reduce anxious behavior.

There are many prescription diets and pheromones that can calm anxious dogs, and a Hello Ralphie veterinarian can also discuss these options with you.

What About Chronic Anxiety?

In cases where anxiety is very severe and hurting the dog’s quality of life, prescription medications are available that a Hello Ralphie veterinarian can go over with you. It is always recommended that you speak with a veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog.

Schedule a vet appointment today to talk to a vet online for more information regarding anxiety in dogs, and we can let you know how you can help your dog!

If you are still unsure if your dog’s behavior is caused by anxiety, we recommend taking our Dog Anxiety Quiz.

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