Why Do Dogs Pant In The Car? 6 Important Reasons

why do dogs pant in the car, Lab in car

Dogs love to pant. There’s no denying that. Whether it’s with excitement when you reach for their new, retractable leash or after the 900th time they’ve returned the ball, panting is perfectly normal behavior for dogs (most of the time). So why do dogs pant in the car? It’s not like they’re running around after a ball…

In this blog, we’re going to go through all the reasons why dogs pant in the car and if you ever need to be worried. Having this information will make it easier to go on car trips with your pooch.

But First, A Word on Panting

Often, panting is a normal bodily function of dogs that helps them to cool down. However, excessive panting can also be a sign that something’s not right. Dogs can pant when they’re in pain or feeling unwell, so you mustn’t ignore panting – especially if it’s shallow dog panting.

If there’s no obvious reason why your pooch is panting, check for other signs of distress such as pain, lethargy, vomiting, or loss of appetite. If you notice any of these or you’re worried, contact your vet right away.

Why Do Dogs Pant in The Car? 6 Reasons

So, now we know not all panting is normal, let’s have a look specifically at why dogs pant in the car.

Reason #1: Overheating

As pup parents, we all know it’s very important not to leave dogs in the car. But, cars can be very hot places even when they’re moving. One of the main reasons why dogs pant on car rides is because they’re simply too hot.

After you’ve safely buckled up your pooch, roll down the windows or put the AC on low to get air moving and keep them at a nice temperature.

Reason #2: Dehydration

This is very closely related to reason #1. But a great way to ensure your pooch is comfortable is to make sure they have access to cool, fresh water. This will help to lower their body temperature and make care rides easier.

Reason #3: Dog Anxiety

Lots of pups get anxious when it comes to getting in the car. It may be something new for them, or they might have had a bad experience in the past. Nevertheless, panting in the car is often a sign of anxiety.

The best way to reduce car anxiety is to prevent it (sorry if you’ve got an older pup who is set in their ways). Slowly introducing your dog to car rides from an early age can help them to get used to it and even like car journeys. Start with short rides so they don’t get overwhelmed and it’s a good idea to bring their favorite cute toy with you too (so they feel comforted).

If your older pup is still anxious, starting small can also help. Toys, blankets, water, and sitting closer to you (when safely possible), can help to reassure them.

Reason #4: Excitement

Some dogs love car rides! Where others don’t like being in a moving metal box, lots of pups absolutely love the adventure of getting in a car. Panting can be a sign your pup is excited and enjoying the car ride.

So how can panting mean both anxiety and excitement? Of course, your pup will give you other signs as to whether they’re feeling happy or anxious. Look out for their body language, facial expressions, and any sounds they might be making.

Reason #5: Motion Sickness

Anyone who has ever had car sickness knows how rough it can be – and it’s the same for dogs. A lack of fresh air and the motion of the car can make your pooch feel very sick. Another problem is that motion sickness can cause pups to have bad car anxiety.

If your pup is suffering from motion sickness, they’ll probably start panting rapidly just before they vomit. If they start doing rapid and shallow dog pants, it’s best to safely pull over, give them some fresh air, and reassure them. Another common sign your pup is suffering from motion sickness is if they start to drool a lot.

Reason #6: Pain or Illness

Another reason for excessive panting in cars is because of pain or illness. Pups often pant if they have acute or chronic pain or they’re very uncomfortable. This kind of panting is often accompanied by other signs of pain, such as limping, vomiting, or howling.

If you suspect your pup is in a lot of pain or is suffering from an illness, take them to the vet right away.

How To Stop Your Dog Panting in The Car

The best way to prevent your pooch from panting in the car is to understand the cause of why they might be panting – and then come up with a solution. For instance, if your pup gets anxious when they know they’re going in the car, try to comfort them with toys, a comfortable bed, and maybe a snack.

Likewise, if they get overstimulated and excited try to calm them down with a puzzle toy or something else that might distract them. Once you know why they’re panting, it’s easier to try and stop it.

Conclusion – Why Does My Dog Pant in The Car?

There are lots of reasons why your pup might be panting in the car. Normally, there’s not much to worry about but if you suspect they’re not feeling well or they’re in pain in the car, it’s important to take them to a vet or stop them from suffering from motion sickness.

Whenever you take your pooch in the car, it’s really important to make sure they have enough air and water and that they’re comfortable.