7 Reasons Why Do Dogs Pant In The Car (Causes And Solutions)

“My dog loves to play, run, and go outside. He is so energetic and lovely. But, I don’t understand what happens when he is inside the car. 

Why do my dogs pant in the car?

Why Do Dogs Pant In The Car

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Did you hear anyone saying this? Or, did you ever think of it?

Well, you did. And, that’s the reason you are here. You are worried about why your dog is excessively panting in the car? I, being a dog mother for 12 years knows how it feels.

So, this is a detailed blog explaining “why dogs pant in the car” and “how to stop dogs from panting in the car”.

Know how you can make your dog’s ride comfortable in the backseat.

Why do Dogs Pant on Car Rides?

1. Your dog is feeling hot because of the high temperature

High body temperature due to the vehicle’s heat can be the common reason why your dog is panting in the car. Do not forget, dogs have higher body temperatures compared to humans.

With panting, you can see him sweating profusely through his skin and paws. Now, panting is nothing but the natural cooling mechanism every dog has. 

You cannot argue how hot and uncomfortable you feel when the car windows are closed and there is no circulation of air. You feel like seeking more oxygen than you can!

Dogs, cats, and animals are not like humans; they cannot sweat but pant rigorously. This is just a natural way to beat heat exhaustion. 

You can see this problem, especially in the summer and spring seasons when the outside temperature is high. Dog’s normal body temperature is 39.4 degree Celsius.

My Berney, a Rottweiler starts panting if the temperature increases to 22 degrees Celsius inside the car. 

If you have a German Shepard or any other breed, remember that the endurance capacity varies from dog to dog. So, do not judge and know your dog better.

Tip: Never leave your dog inside the car locked. Remember, it is also a criminal act. The car becomes hot and this can result in heat stroke.

How to Stop Your Dog from Panting in The Car? – Solution for high temperature

  • Dog sweat glands are limited to paws and nose, so allow them to pant to cool down. Turn on the car’s air conditioning and give him some time. 
  • If you are thinking he has a short hair body, he won’t feel hot then let me burst your bubble. Dog’s body temperature is different from a human’s. You should park your car and open the windows and doors to welcome some fresh air. 
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2. Your dog is not drinking the required amount of water he should 

Your mother always told you to drink 2-3 liters of water daily! But, is your four-legged friend is having enough water per day? 

Less amount of water in the dog’s body results in dehydration. This can result in panting and heat stroke too. 

Do you remember, your mother always gave you a glass of lemon water after every running class you had? This is because she always wanted you to stay hydrated.

90% of water in the dog’s body reduces panting and drooling during activities. If you do not want him to grow weak or lose consciousness then fetch him water. 

I have heard people saying, it’s winter and dogs do not need much water. This is so wrong, remember, winter or rain, dogs should drink enough water to stay hydrated. 

The heat inside the car and his long hair are enough to make him feel hot and dehydrated.

Tips:

  • Maximum 2 hours before starting the ride, give him enough water to stay hydrated. 

Solution for dehydration

  • If your dog was out in the sun doing any sort of physical activity and pants once coming back into the car, give him fresh water. 
  • Running water is the best option as they are born to drink like that. However, a bottle of water will be fine. Carry water for him separately and keep him hydrated. 

3. Your dog is uncomfortable with the motion of the car

I have seen Ryana, my friend’s dog vomit after the car moved 2-3 Kms. We took her to the vet immediately. We got to know, Ryana has motion sickness. 

Motion sickness is also known as car sickness, as the car moves and the dog feels a sense of nausea and all his eyes, muscles, joints and everything reflects that.

I hope you’ve seen many people have motion sickness, they vomit and always prefer to get the window seat for that. 

Motion sickness is a common symptom among young puppies as they have a less sense of balance and control compared to fully grown dogs.

The sickness triggers their panting, which increases the stress and resulting throw up. It’s a natural instinct to reduce panting and stress. 

Therefore, from the initial days take a long car ride with your puppy to develop a sense of comfort.

Tips:

  • Motion sickness occurs due to a lack of incoordination between the inner ears and eyes. So, do not delay and take him to the doctor at an early stage.
  • Do not feed your dog before starting the ride. 
  • Get a plastic kennel for your dog.

Solution for dog’s motion sickness

  • Keep your air conditioning in such a way that he does not feel overheated. Overheating is not a good sign.
  • Stop the car, roll down the windows and calm him down
  • Keep the seat elevated and drive slowly or give him the window seat. Let the fresh air get in
  • You can get medicines available, talk to your vet and get them. Try to block the dog’s vision of the outside world.
Why Do Dogs Pant In The Car

4. Your dog is scared of your driving skills or overwhelmed by the surroundings

Seeing two bikes racing, a lot of honking and some confusing images on the road might not be weird to the human’s eye but it surely does to the pup.

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Additionally, the playing of loud music inside the car or the size of the car can be the reason for the dog’s scariness. 

Our Berney always pants when my mother takes her out for a drive. On the contrary, when I take her in the same way, there is no sign of discomfort.

It took us years to understand that in her childhood she saw my mother crashing the car while parking. Since then she developed a fear of her driving skills.

Your driving skills might make your four-legged best friend feel nervous. Also, if your dog is inside the car for the first time he might feel scared. 

Solution for a scared dog

  • Drive slowly and let your dog feel relaxed. Try to avoid uneven roads and jarring moves
  • Never yell at your dog when he is panting. Coax him to be gentle and give him some water

5. Some confusing images on the way have triggered his anxiety

Fear of the unknown results into anxiety attacks among dogs. Anything under the sun can be the reason. 

Your dog is not comfortable with the person he is traveling with, or, you haven’t trained him well, or he is too thirsty or running through a lot of emotions.

Knowing your dog’s anxiousness might help you to calm your hyper dog in the car. Any level of stress can result in panting and heatstroke.

Also, I have seen Arly, my neighbor’s dog does not like to visit his veterinarian. And, his owner always takes him in his car. 

So, he has made it two plus two, vets and the car is bad. Now, whenever he gets into their car he gets anxious and starts panting. 

Solution for an anxious dog

  • Hug your dog, pat him, smile at him, and be gentle
  • Train him properly. Try with basic commands.
  • Offer him Blue Buffalo Blue Bits. It is healthy and your dog will love the treat
  • Before starting the ride, play around the car with them. 

6. Your dog is too happy and excited to be with you

I have heard people arguing on this but happy dog pants too! He knows that the black car driven by you takes him to happy places. 

He is too excited to explore the dog parks, dog restaurants, dog lakes, and more. He knows he is on a trip and so he is overly excited

Have you seen your dog panting in happiness when he sees you coming back home in the evening from the office? 

Have you seen his expressions changing? His eyes light up, his muscles are more relaxed and he pants a lot. Similar things happen when he is with you.

Moreover, remember he will calm down in a minute. So, just let him be happy!

Solution for an over-excited dog

  • Take small steps. Before riding, train him. Get him close to the car, get inside, talk to him, and bring him out. 
  • Command them to jump into the car so that he understands you want him to react. Practice and repeat the same methods every day until he feels safe while the car is moving.

7. Your dog has some medical issues that need to be addressed soon

Medical reasons can be a serious problem for your dog panting inside the car. For example, your dog has a high fever and you are taking him to the hospital.

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Or, he had bloating. And the high car temperature resulted into discomfort and extreme pain resulting decrease in lung volume.

Or, he had a history of Cushing’s disease and the whole traveling experience might have triggered his stress hormones resulting in panting.

Or, his arthritis causes pain on bumpy roads. These are all emergency situations and should not be taken lightly. You should visit the vet as soon as possible.

Solution for medical issues

  • Consult your vet before any trips you take with him
Dogs Panting In The Car

General Tips: How to Reduce Dogs Panting in Car?

  • Take frequent breaks and let him stretch his legs, pee, and get potty breaks
  • Give him enough water in the morning to drink. Do not feed just before starting the ride. Avoid feeding them for at least one hour before.
  • Adjust the air vents of the car so that your dogs receive plenty of ventilation
  • Keep your dog in the back seat
  • Before the trip, exercise your dog and make him comfortable with the seat belt

How can I Naturally Sedate my Dog for Travel?

I am not a doctor. I cannot prescribe anything to sedate your dog. I am only telling you what works for my Berney.

It is always best to seek advice from your veterinarian before giving him anything. He knows your pup’s medical history and will suggest what’s best for him. 

  • Offer supplements like L-theanine, S-adenosyl, Zylkene (hydrolyzed milk protein, or melatonin).
  • Use some calming scents inside the car made up of sandalwood, chamomile, and lavender
  • For severe anxiety, dogs can have medications like alprazolam, Fluoxetine, sertraline, lorazepam, and diazepam.
  • Buy a dog harness that is specially designed for dogs.
  • You can carry your dog in a crate if he is not anxious
  • Keep the windows down but check that your dog is not hanging out of the window. Constant exposure to wind can result to dry eyes and flying debris.

Wrapping up

If you are thinking “why do dogs pant in the car”, let me tell you that it is his natural instinct. But that does not mean you will ignore it.

If you notice your dog panting like crazy, try to observe and assess the situation.  Do not shout at him.

The immediate solution is to park the car and calm him down. Your dog’s health is your priority. 

Let him enjoy the trip!

FAQ – Why do Dogs Pant in The Car

1. When should I worry about dog panting?

A: Panting is normal. However, heavy panting and labored breathing are not normal. If you see your dog breathing heavily in and out, hearing sounds of distress like crying, wheezing, or sounds from nostrils, or inflammation of respiratory tracks, you know you should run to his vet. These are symptoms of heat stroke. 

2. What can I give my dog to sleep while traveling? 

A: You can give him trazodone, or alprazolam to make him sleep while traveling, however, as per The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) this is not a good step. It can create heart problems later in his life.

3. Can I sedate my dog for travel?

A: No, do not sedate your dog for travel. This can affect your pet’s equilibrium resulting in more panic attacks in between. He might get heart pain and respiratory tract allergies. 

4. Why do dogs pant and shake in the car?

A: Dogs panting heavily and shaking in the car are not normal. Reasons like travel anxiety, hyperarousal, fear of the unknown, trapped environment¸ unknown face, medical history, and dehydration are the reasons for his behavior. 

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