Why Does My Dog Pant In The Car? Uncovering the Reasons

Are you puzzled by why does my dog pant in the car? You’re not alone, as many pet parents notice this behavior and it can be caused by various factors. This blog post is here to help by uncovering the hidden reasons behind your furry friend’s panting in cars – from overstimulation and anxiety to heat stress, motion sickness, and more.

Keep reading to understand better why your pup gets so winded on the road and how you can alleviate their distress!

why does my dog pant in the car

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs pant in cars for various reasons, including cooling down, anxiety and fear, motion sickness, heat and stress, noise and vibrations, lack of familiarity and control, as well as excitement.
  • Gradual desensitization can help dogs who pant in cars due to anxiety or fear. This involves slowly exposing your dog to car rides, starting with short and positive experiences.
  • Creating a comfortable environment is important by providing familiar blankets or toys that have their scent on them. Maintaining a consistent temperature inside the car is also crucial for their comfort.
  • Proper ventilation is essential to prevent overheating during car rides. Open windows or use air conditioning to provide fresh air for your dog.

Why Do Dogs Pant in Cars?

Dogs pant in cars for various reasons, including cooling down, anxiety and fear, motion sickness, heat and stress, noise and vibrations, lack of familiarity and control, as well as excitement.

To cool down

Dogs pant to cool down. They do this by releasing heat from their bodies. Think of it as their way of sweating! Panting gets the hot air out and lets in fresh, cool air. In a car, your dog may start panting if the temperature is high.

You should make sure there’s good air flow in your car so that your dog stays cool and comfy.

Anxiety and fear

Dogs can experience anxiety and fear when riding in cars, which can cause them to pant excessively. This panting is their way of trying to cope with the stressful situation. Dogs may feel anxious or fearful during car rides due to a variety of reasons, such as previous bad experiences, lack of exposure and familiarity with car rides, or even general anxiety about new environments.

It’s important for dog owners to understand that these feelings are real for their pets and should be addressed with patience and care. Providing a calm and secure environment in the car, using gradual desensitization techniques, and seeking professional help if needed can all help alleviate anxiety and reduce excessive panting during car rides.

Motion sickness

Motion sickness can also be a reason why dogs pant in cars. Just like some humans, dogs can feel nauseous and dizzy when their body senses conflicting signals from their eyes and inner ears during car rides.

This can lead to excessive drooling, vomiting, restlessness, and panting in dogs. Motion sickness is more common in puppies because their developing vestibular system is still adjusting to motion.

If your dog experiences motion sickness, keeping them facing forward in the car and providing proper ventilation may help reduce the symptoms.

Heat and stress

On hot days or in poorly ventilated cars, heat can make dogs pant excessively. Panting is their way of cooling down. Stress and anxiety can also cause panting in dogs during car rides, especially if they have travel anxiety.

Excessive panting and shaking may be signs that your dog is overheating and trying to cool down. It’s important to create a comfortable and safe environment for your dog in the car to help reduce stress and prevent overheating.

Noise and vibrations

Noise and vibrations in the car can be another reason why your dog may pant excessively. Loud noises, such as honking horns or sirens, can startle and stress your dog during car rides.

Similarly, the vibrations felt in a moving vehicle can be unsettling for some dogs. These loud sounds and vibrations can contribute to anxiety and discomfort, causing your dog to pant more than usual.

It’s important to create a calm and soothing environment by reducing noise levels inside the car when traveling with your dog. You can consider playing soft music or using sound-reducing techniques like closing windows or using earplugs for dogs to help minimize their exposure to these stimuli.

Lack of familiarity and control

Some dogs may pant in the car due to a lack of familiarity and control. Being in an unfamiliar environment like a moving vehicle can make them feel anxious and unsure. They may not understand what’s happening or how to behave, which can lead to panting as a way of expressing their discomfort.

It’s important to gradually expose your dog to car rides and help them feel more comfortable. This can be done by taking short trips at first, offering rewards and positive reinforcement, and creating a calm and safe space inside the car for them.

By building familiarity and providing reassurance, you can help decrease their anxiety and reduce panting during car rides.


Dogs can pant in cars due to excitement. When they get excited, their heart rate increases and they may start panting to cool down their bodies. This is a normal behavior for dogs, especially when something fun or stimulating is happening, like going on a car ride to the park or seeing their favorite person.

Panting from excitement usually subsides once the dog calms down or when the exciting event is over. So if your dog pants in the car out of excitement, it’s important to keep them safe and comfortable by providing proper ventilation and making sure they are secured with a car safety restraint.

why does my dog pant in the car

How to Help a Dog Who Pants in the Car

To help a dog who pants in the car, try gradual desensitization, creating a comfortable environment, reducing motion sickness, ensuring proper ventilation, and using car safety restraints.

Seeking professional help is also an option. Read more to learn how to make car rides less stressful for your furry friend.

Gradual desensitization

Gradual desensitization can help dogs who pant in cars due to anxiety or fear. This involves slowly exposing your dog to car rides, starting with short and positive experiences. You can sit in the parked car with your dog, rewarding them for calm behavior.

Then, gradually increase the duration and distance of car rides while keeping things enjoyable for your pup. By doing this over time, you can help reduce their anxiety and make car rides more comfortable for them.

Creating a comfortable environment

To help your dog feel more comfortable in the car, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure to use a properly sized crate or seat belt restraint to keep them secure and reduce any anxiety they may have about moving around.

You should also provide familiar blankets or toys that have their scent on them for added comfort. Additionally, it’s important to maintain a consistent temperature inside the car by using air conditioning or opening windows as needed.

If your dog tends to get motion sick, avoid feeding them right before a car ride and consider giving them anti-nausea medication recommended by your veterinarian. By taking these steps, you can create an environment that helps ease your dog’s panting and make car rides more enjoyable for both of you.

Reducing motion sickness

If your dog experiences motion sickness in the car, there are a few ways you can help reduce their discomfort. First, try to acclimate them gradually to car rides by taking short trips and gradually increasing the duration.

You can also make sure that they have an empty stomach before traveling and provide them with plenty of fresh air by opening the windows or using a fan. Additionally, consider investing in special products like anti-nausea medications or calming supplements specifically designed for dogs with motion sickness.

With some patience and adjustments, you can help your pup feel more comfortable during car rides.

Ensuring proper ventilation

Proper ventilation is crucial for your dog’s comfort and safety in the car. Dogs pant to cool down, so it’s important to provide them with fresh air during car rides. If the car is hot or poorly ventilated, it can lead to overheating and dehydration, which can be dangerous for your furry friend.

Make sure there are open windows or use air conditioning to maintain a comfortable temperature. This will help prevent excessive panting and keep your dog calm during the journey.

Gradual exposure to sounds and vibrations

To help your dog become more comfortable with the sounds and vibrations of the car, it’s important to gradually expose them to these sensations. Start by letting your dog spend short periods of time in a parked car with the engine off.

Allow them to get used to being inside the vehicle and reward them for calm behavior. Then, gradually introduce sounds like starting the engine or honking the horn while giving treats or praise.

You can also take short drives around the block, increasing the duration over time. This gradual exposure will help your dog feel more at ease with car rides and reduce panting caused by fear or anxiety.

Using car safety restraints

It’s important to use car safety restraints when traveling with your dog in the car. These restraints, such as harnesses or crates, help keep your dog safe and secure during the ride.

They prevent your dog from moving around too much or becoming a distraction to the driver. In case of an accident, using a car safety restraint can also protect your dog from getting injured or escaping from the vehicle.

Remember to choose a restraint that is appropriate for your dog’s size and weight, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation and usage.

Using a car safety restraint can give you peace of mind knowing that your furry friend is protected while on the road. It helps ensure their safety during sudden stops or if there’s an impact from another vehicle.

Additionally, using these restraints can also prevent accidents caused by dogs who are excited or anxious during car rides. By keeping them securely restrained, they are less likely to roam around inside the vehicle and distract the driver.

Seeking professional help

If your dog continues to pant excessively in the car despite your efforts, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. A veterinarian or a certified animal behaviorist can assess your dog’s specific needs and provide guidance tailored to their individual situation.

They can help identify any underlying medical conditions or behavioral issues that may be contributing to the panting. Additionally, they can offer specialized training techniques and strategies to help alleviate your dog’s anxiety during car rides.

Seeking professional help can ensure that you have the right tools and support to address this issue effectively and improve your dog’s overall well-being while traveling in the car.

why does my dog pant in the car

Are Certain Dog Breeds More Prone to Panting in Cars?

Certain dog breeds, such as brachycephalic breeds and anxious or high-strung breeds, may be more prone to panting in cars.

Brachycephalic breeds

Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, are more prone to panting in cars. These breeds have short noses and flat faces, making it harder for them to breathe efficiently.

As a result, they can overheat and struggle with proper airflow during car rides. The combination of stress, anxiety, and limited oxygen intake can lead to excessive panting in these types of dogs.

It’s important to take extra precautions when traveling with brachycephalic breeds by ensuring good ventilation and providing a calm environment to help reduce their discomfort.

Anxious or high-strung breeds

Some dog breeds are naturally more anxious or high-strung, which can contribute to panting in cars. Breeds such as Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, and Chihuahuas are known for their sensitive nature and tendency to be easily stressed.

These dogs may react strongly to the unfamiliar environment of a car and feel anxious during rides. The combination of stress and anxiety can lead to excessive panting as a way for them to cope with their emotions.

It’s important for owners of these breeds to provide extra comfort and reassurance during car rides, ensuring they have a safe and comfortable space.

why does my dog pant in the car


In conclusion, understanding the reasons behind dog panting in cars can help us address their needs and keep them safe during car rides. Whether it’s to cool down, deal with anxiety, or cope with motion sickness, there are steps we can take to alleviate their discomfort.

By gradually desensitizing them, creating a comfortable environment, and ensuring proper ventilation and safety measures, we can make car rides more enjoyable for our furry friends.

Remember to seek professional help if needed and always prioritize their well-being when traveling together.


1. What are some reasons for a dog panting in cars?

Dogs may pant in cars due to anxiety, overstimulation, overheating, or pain from an underlying disease.

2. How can I tell if my dog’s panting is excessive?

Excessive panting includes other signs like shaking, pacing, and repetitive yawning alongside heavy breaths.

3. Can poor ventilation cause my dog to pant more in the car?

Yes, poor ventilation can lead to your dog overheating and that makes them huff and puff more than usual.

4. Why does my dog exhibit ‘fixated behavior’ such as pacing and lip licking along with fear of car rides?

This could be a sign of anxiety when traveling with pets or canine stress caused by the fear of car rides.

5. How do I calm my anxious or overheated pet while on a car journey?

To avoid dogs getting heatstroke or feeling scared during the ride, make sure there’s cool air flow and take breaks for water sips and walks.

6. Is behavioral change common among dogs that experience stress from vehicle travel?

Yes! Dogs may display behaviors like constant whining along with increased sweating amidst their stressed state during travel.

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