Is your dog panting in the car? If you’ve noticed your dog panting excessively in the car, it’s essential to understand the potential causes, associated risks, and effective solutions. While some dogs enjoy car rides, others experience anxiety or discomfort, leading to excessive panting.

In this article, let’s explore the reasons behind dog panting in the car, and potential health risks, and learn some practical tips on how to ensure a safe and comfortable journey with your fur baby.

Why Dogs Pant in the Car?

Anxiety and Stress

Dogs may pant excessively in the car due to anxiety and stress. They feel anxious when they experience an unfamiliar environment, motion sickness, or have negative experiences such as a previous car accident or discomfort that can contribute to their anxiety. Panting is a common stress response, and it serves as a self-calming mechanism for dogs.

Heat and Poor Ventilation

Another reason for excessive panting is the heat and inadequate ventilation in the car. Dogs are more prone to overheating than humans, and the confined space of a car can quickly become hot, especially on hot days or in cars without proper airflow. Panting helps dogs regulate their body temperature and cool down in such situations.


In some cases, excessive panting in the car can be a result of excitement. Dogs may pant when they anticipate a fun activity, such as going for a walk, reaching their favorite park, or visiting loved ones. This type of panting is usually accompanied by other signs of excitement like wagging tails and heightened energy levels.

Litter of Puppies in pickup

Understanding the Risks of Excessive Dog Panting

Most of the time, dog panting is normal.  But when it becomes too excessive and repetitive such as your dog always pants whenever he takes a car ride, then it should raise some concerns. 

  • Dehydration. Dog pants when they are thirsty or dehydrated. So try to recall when you last gave your dog water. If your dog is panting in the car, try to give him water. If he is simply thirsty, the panting should go away after drinking water.
  • Heatstroke. Panting could be a sign of heat stroke in dogs. Heat stroke occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises to dangerous levels, often due to exposure to high temperatures or prolonged physical activity in hot conditions. In addition to excessive panting, other signs of heat stroke in dogs may include rapid breathing, excessive drooling, lethargy, weakness, bright red gums, vomiting, diarrhea, and collapse. If you think your dog is having a heatstroke, you must take him to the veterinarian right away.
  • Anxiety. Dogs can feel anxious when riding a car. The combination of unfamiliar surroundings, motion, and confinement can be stressful for some dogs. The anxiety they feel during car rides can manifest in various ways, including excessive panting, restlessness, drooling, whining, barking, pacing, or even destructive behavior.

Tips to Keep Your Dog Comfortable in the Car

Take your dog for a ride. Here are some practical tips on how to alleviate excessive panting and ensure your dog is comfortable throughout your journey. 

  • Proper ventilation. Provide your dog with good airflow. Open the window during your ride instead of depending on your AC unit. Adjust air conditioning settings if necessary or depending on your dog’s breed.
  • Temperature Control: Be mindful of the temperature inside the car. Avoid leaving your dog in a hot car, as it can quickly become dangerous. Use air conditioning or adjust the temperature settings to keep the car at a comfortable level.
  • Frequent Breaks: Take regular breaks during long car rides to allow your dog to stretch their legs, drink water, and relieve themselves. This will help them stay comfortable and reduce restlessness.
  • Calming Techniques: Use calming techniques to help your dog relax during the car ride. Consider using pheromone sprays, calming music, or aromatherapy products with soothing scents. These can create a calming environment and reduce anxiety. 
  • Gradual Acclimation: Gradually acclimate your dog to car rides by starting with short trips and gradually increasing the duration. Pair each car ride with positive experiences, such as treats or playtime, to build positive associations and reduce anxiety.
  • Distraction and Comfort: Provide distractions to keep your dog occupied and comfortable during the journey. Bring their favorite toys, chew treats, or a comfortable blanket to create a sense of familiarity and security.

Remember to prioritize your dog’s safety and well-being during car rides. If your dog experiences severe travel anxiety or shows signs of distress that persist despite your efforts, consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer for additional guidance and support.

When to Seek Veterinary Advice

If your dog’s symptoms persist and become excessive, you must consult your veterinarian. They can provide further guidance and evaluate if any underlying health issues are contributing to your dog’s distress. A veterinarian may be able to recommend specific strategies or even medications to help alleviate your dog’s anxiety during car rides.

It’s important to remember that each dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. A veterinarian can assess your dog’s individual needs and provide tailored advice to address their specific situation. They can also rule out any potential medical conditions that may be causing or exacerbating the anxiety.

  • Persistent or Severe Panting. If your dog is panting excessively and the behavior persists or becomes severe, it is important to seek veterinary advice. Excessive panting can be a sign of underlying health issues, such as respiratory problems, heart disease, pain, or metabolic disorders. A veterinarian can conduct a thorough examination to determine the cause of the panting and recommend appropriate treatment.
  • Pre-existing Health Conditions. If your dog has pre-existing health conditions, such as respiratory disorders, heart conditions, or anxiety disorders, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian. These conditions may require special attention and management during car rides to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort. The veterinarian can guide how to best accommodate your dog’s specific needs and minimize any potential risks.
  • Medication or Supplements. If your dog is on any medication or supplements that may impact their response to car rides or anxiety levels, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. They can evaluate the medication’s effects and determine if any adjustments are necessary. Additionally, a veterinarian can recommend specific anti-anxiety medications or natural supplements that may help alleviate your dog’s anxiety during car rides.


Understanding and addressing dog panting in the car is crucial for the comfort and well-being of your furry companion. Excessive panting can be caused by anxiety, heat, dehydration, or underlying health conditions. By gradually acclimating your dog to car rides, providing proper ventilation, temperature control, and frequent breaks, managing their anxiety, and seeking veterinary advice when needed, you can create a safe and enjoyable travel experience for your dog. Remember to prioritize their needs and make their comfort a priority, ensuring many stress-free adventures together. Happy travels!

FAQs about Why Dogs Pant in Cars?

Why do dogs pant in cars?

Dogs pant in cars for many reasons such as being thirsty, uncomfortable, or anxious. It is also possible that your dog is having a heatstroke especially if the weather is too warm. You must determine the reason behind your dog’s behavior so you can provide the right remedy.

How can I keep my dog cool in the car? 

One way to keep your dog in the car is to turn on the AC unit. Never leave your dog unattended in the car while the AC is off. It is also best if you open your window from time to time so your dog can breathe fresh air.

Are there any specific breeds more prone to panting in the car?

Breeds with shorter snouts, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, and Shih Tzus, often experience difficulty breathing and are more susceptible to heat-related issues. These breeds may be more prone to panting in the car, especially in hot or poorly ventilated conditions. Additionally, breeds with high energy levels or anxiety tendencies, such as Border Collies or German Shepherds, may be more prone to panting due to excitement or stress during car rides.

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