While younger dogs and puppies are likely to become restless and sleepless at night, this behavior subsides as dogs mature. However, if you notice your old dog panting and restless at night or constantly changing positions every night, there might be a serious underlying issue that you need to address.
So, the reasons your dog is panting and pacing at night could be due to excess energy or underlying health conditions. If it’s simply restlessness, then you can quickly solve it by investing in the right dog toys to keep him occupied. Toys help dogs play at night while awake. Also, find time to regularly take him out for toilet breaks.
But, if the behavior persists, consider visiting a veterinarian to have your canine friend professionally diagnosed. In this article, you’ll discover the reasons why your old dog keeps panting and pacing at night. We also share a few tips on how to solve these alarming behaviors.
1: General Anxiety
Anxiety in dogs can lead them to incessant panting and pacing at night. In fact, this is the most common reason why dogs pant and pace at night. Just like humans, when your dog is experiencing intense worry, it’s bound to become anxious.
It’s impossible to comfort your dog immediately because he can’t tell you what is really worrying him! So, your dog’s only option for coping with the situation is to keep panting and pacing throughout the night. In some cases, certain health issues and sudden lifestyle changes that are burdensome can cause anxiety attacks in dogs.
2: Separation Anxiety
When a dog is suddenly separated from a close human companion or another dog, she may experience separation anxiety. This is mainly because the dog is now forced to sleep and spend his time alone. However, if the panting and pacing in your dog are caused by separation anxiety, you really don’t need to worry a lot because it will subside with time as the dog adjusts to the change.
3: Vision and Hearing Problems
If your dog is experiencing vision and hearing-related problems, he’s likely to be stressed. The dog will worry about the condition to the point of being overly stressed and feeling uneasy at all times, including nighttime. This results in certain weird behaviors such as panting and pacing at night.
The panting and pacing are often manifested at night because there are very little sounds and light around him. In addition, if there is a sudden vision or hearing impairment that shocks the dog, he’ll become stressed and start exhibiting these alarming behaviors, as well.
4: Routine or Environmental Changes
A significant sudden change in the actual living of your canine friend can also lead to an anxiety attack. Just as elaborated above, the anxiety attacks will consequently cause panting and pacing at night.
Additionally, alterations in a certain routine that your dog is used to will render the dog restless. For instance, moving to apartment living or traveling with your pet for a vacation to a new place with strange things is likely to overwhelm your dog’s feelings.
Even a new pet in a household will be uncomfortable for the first few days, especially at night before he starts adjusting to the changes. A dog can also suffer from abandonment trauma if a human companion suddenly goes away.
5: Old Age
As a dog grows older, he is likely to experience anxiety and start panting and pacing at night. The mental and physical health of your dog definitely changes as he ages. If this is associated with changes in your dog’s sleep cycles, then your dog is likely to become even more anxious, especially at night.
6: Pain or Trauma
When a dog is injured or is suffering from certain diseases, he’ll be feeling pain which will consequently lead to restlessness. In fact, some of the medications that your dog is using due to the disease or sustained injuries can be the cause of the restlessness. Most muscle building medications come with disturbing side effects that might be the cause of the restlessness.
Apart from the serious health conditions that affect dogs, some very basic things such as itchy skin or bug bites can also cause pain, as well. Consider using flea shampoos to wash your dog regularly. Older dogs that are aged seven years and above can also experience musculoskeletal issues such as joint and muscle pains.
Digestive system issues can also lead to mild or severe pain. In the end, a dog that is feeling any pain will keep panting and pacing at night. Sometimes, if your dog is unwell, the panting and pacing might be accompanied by decreased appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. In general, dogs just freak out like humans whenever something is irritating or bothering them.
Tips For Stopping The Panting And Pacing
Many pet owners actually don’t know how to react to the panting and pacing at night, to the point that they get stressed themselves. It’s extremely advisable that you remain calm as a dog parent so as to avoid worsening the problem.
This is very crucial because your dog can pick up on your energy and interpret it correctly. For instance, the dog will be more agitated and stressed if he realizes that you’re disappointed in him. You need to show your dog that you’re there for him and ready to offer all the support he needs.
Your petting skills and warmth is very much needed at this moment. Even a physical touch or introducing a delicious type of dog food will come in handy in calming your dog.
Simply help tone down his worries by being there for him when he is unstable and worried. For instance, your dog can be scared and start panting and pacing at night due to a sudden vision problem. Therefore, you can solve the problem by making him feel secure at night. In other words, your dog will know that he is not facing the challenge alone.
Unfamiliarity can equate to being in serious danger to dogs. Even though some dog breeds such as Rottweiler tend to adjust faster than others when in a new environment, it’s upon a dog owner to help his/her dog adjust. If your dog is constantly feeling like some threatening danger is looming around the corner, he’ll keep panting and pacing at night.
That’s why it’s not advisable to move certain dog breeds to apartment living. You should consider exposing your pup to the new environment regularly before moving so you can prepare him emotionally and psychologically.
Since your furry friend can’t communicate verbally with you, he fully relies on you to learn his body language and meet his needs. Therefore, you need to be in tune with your dog’s energy and demeanor. In the long run, you’ll build and nurture a very strong bond with your dog to an extent that you can tell what’s up in every single action he takes.
This will come in handy every time your little cutie is feeling unwell or when panting and pacing at night because you will know how to respond. As a pet parent, it’s your responsibility to know what’s bothering your dog and act swiftly to alleviate the issue. Here are some great Dog Training Books that vets often recommend for pet owners.
Dr. Belinda Hawks earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2006 and has been practicing veterinary medicine since then. Dr. Belinda currently works as a passionate rancher and mixed animal veterinarian in a rural town in South Carolina. When not practicing veterinary medicine or writing, she spends her free time with her lovely husband and three kids (2 boys and a lovely girl) in South Carolina.