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Why Does My Puppy Wake Up Panting?

Puppies wake up panting when they’re too hot, stressed, and anxious. Having a vivid dream could also cause your puppy to pant. These are all normal reasons for panting that are no cause for concern.

However, some puppies might be experiencing pain from an injury, a respiratory problem, or a heart disease that makes breathing harder. In this case, you should seek veterinary advice on handling the panting so your puppy’s more comfortable.

So, how do you know the difference between normal and pathological panting? And is there anything you can do to reduce or stop it?

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What Are the Normal Causes for Panting at Night?

Many reasons can make your dog pant, and they’re mostly not worrisome. Here they are:

Lowering Body Temperature

Panting is the dog’s way to reduce body heat because they don’t sweat from their entire bodies as we do. In fact, they only sweat from their paws, which isn’t nearly enough to dissipate the heat on a warm day.

Panting at night might be your puppy’s way of cooling off, especially if they sleep in a bed or on a blanket.

If you put your dog inside its crate, he might want to move to a cooler spot but fail to because of the limited space. The only option he has at such a time is painting.

Stress or Anxiety

Puppies can get anxious if there’s a startling, loud noise, like fireworks, that wakes them up from their sweet slumber. This might translate into heavy panting, barking, or both.

Dog looks out the window and watching the fireworks

German Shepherd puppies are particularly prone to this because of their high alertness.

Also, if the puppy leaves his litter mates too soon for whatever reason, he might have symptoms of stress or anxiety. This can present as generalized fast breathing or excessive panting that carries on into the night.

Moreover, young puppies usually take some time to get accustomed to their new home. Until then, their anxiety might wake them up panting.

This is completely normal and usually subsides in the first few weeks of being included in the family. After that, all it takes is for the puppy to get used to this new space and feel safe and sound at night.


This might come as a surprise to many people, but dogs dream! In addition, they have a Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase in their sleep, just like we do, which can lead to some interesting behaviors.

Some people report their puppies kicking, growling, barking, or otherwise being restless in their sleep. These behaviors result from vivid dreams getting the dog riled up.

The puppy might get too excited about the dream and wake up panting, which is nothing to worry about. 

A Pitbull dog  mid-air, running after its chew toy with its owner standing close by.

Health Problems That May Cause Panting at Night

Unfortunately, disease and injury sometimes cause your puppy to pant at night. Here are some of those problems your puppy might be facing:

Pain From an Injury

If you had just neutered your puppy or if he’s suffering an injury, he might wake up panting. Panting is considered a pain response in some dogs, and they might even use it to draw their owner’s attention.

Respiratory Issues

Dogs can suffer from many health problems that cause breathing difficulties. It might be a breed problem, like Pugs having short nostrils. It could also be an abnormality or a tumor.

Panting can also signify something narrowing the airway and causing labored breathing, like allergies or an infection. And in some cases, it’s a side effect of some medications, especially corticosteroids like prednisone.

Heart Disease

Puppies with heart issues can have symptoms like shortness of breath or panting. However, they also usually show other signs, such as fatigue, inability to complete exercises, and pale or bluish gums.

Although this is more common in older dogs, puppies will suffer these symptoms if they have a congenital heart defect. The most common congenital heart problem in puppies is patent ductus arteriosus, followed by pulmonic stenosis and aortic stenosis.

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How to Stop My Puppy From Waking up to Pant?

As a dog owner, your job is to determine whether the puppy’s panting is normal or due to a health issue.

You can do that by addressing some of the issues that we mentioned above, and if the panting doesn’t stop, you should seek help from a veterinarian.

Cool Your Puppy’s Sleeping Area

English Cocker Spaniel enjoying air flow from fan on floor indoors
  • Remove any bedding or warm blankets from the puppy’s crate. Then, just leave a small towel or bedsheet he can push away when needed.
  • Turn on an oscillating fan or air conditioning all night in the room your puppy sleeps in.
  • Leave a water bowl near the sleeping area if your puppy gets thirsty from all the panting. This will prevent dehydration and cool him off even more.

Comfort Your Puppy If He Wakes Up

  • If your puppy’s panting wakes you up, check on him.
  • Pet the puppy till he stops panting and gets back to sleep.
  • Give your puppy his favorite toy if he wants to snuggle with it in his sleep.

Monitor Your Dog’s Behavior

If your previous attempts at making your dog feel comfortable and safe didn’t do much, there might be another reason for your dog’s panting. 

  • Keep an eye on your puppy for a couple of hours while he sleeps. If he’s mostly sleeping normally, aside from a couple of minutes of panting, he’s probably fine.
  • If he’s struggling to breathe normally in his sleep, there could be a health issue.
  • Do this for a couple of nights, watching your puppy nap or sleep. If you see the issue repeating, schedule an appointment with your vet for a wellness checkup.

Take Your Puppy to the Veterinarian

If you’re worried your puppy might be unwell, the best thing to do is to ensure there’s nothing physically wrong with him. A visit with the vet will help you do just that.

The vet might ask for some x-rays and blood work to rule out any health problems, especially if there are other symptoms.