Why Do Dogs Pant In The Car? Traveling With Pups

Have you ever wondered why your dog pants excessively during car rides? Panting in dogs can be a sign of overheating, anxiety, or excitement. In this article, we delve into the common reasons behind this behavior and provide effective strategies to prevent excessive panting.

Stay with us as we guide you on how to make your pup’s car journey more comfortable and relaxing!

why do dogs pant in the car

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs pant in the car due to overheating, motion sickness, anxiety, excitement, or physical discomfort.
  • Panting is a way for dogs to cool off when they’re hot. It’s important to keep the car cool and well-ventilated during travel.
  • Motion sickness can make dogs feel sick and dizzy in the car. Gradually acclimating them and using calming aids may help reduce panting.
  • Anxiety and excitement can cause excessive panting in dogs. Creating a calm and comfortable environment can help alleviate their stress.
  • Dogs may also pant in the car if they’re in physical discomfort or pain. It’s important to pay attention to their body language and consult with a veterinarian if needed.

Common Reasons Why Dogs Pant in the Car

Dogs pant in the car due to overheating, motion sickness, anxiety, excitement, or physical discomfort or pain.


Dogs can get too hot in cars. Panting is a way for them to cool off. When they are in a warm car, they start to pant more than normal. Dogs cannot sweat like humans do, so they use their breath to lose heat from their body.

If the car gets even hotter, dogs may pant faster and harder. It can lead to health problems such as heat stroke or other illnesses if not treated quickly. So keeping the car cool while traveling with your dog is very important.

Motion sickness

Motion sickness can be a common reason why dogs pant in the car. Just like some humans, dogs can feel sick when they travel in a moving vehicle. This can happen because their body senses movement, but their eyes don’t see it.

The conflicting signals can make them feel dizzy and nauseous, causing them to pant excessively. Puppies are more prone to motion sickness compared to adult dogs, but they may grow out of it as they get older.

If your dog gets carsick often, you might want to talk to your veterinarian about possible treatments or remedies that could help make car rides more comfortable for them.


Anxiety can cause dogs to pant excessively in the car. Dogs may feel stressed or fearful when they are inside a moving vehicle, which can lead to panting. Signs of anxiety in dogs include trembling, pacing, and restlessness.

To help alleviate their anxiety, you can create a calm and comfortable environment for your pup by providing familiar items like their favorite blanket or toy. You can also play soothing music or use white noise to help them relax during the ride.

If your dog’s anxiety is severe, it may be helpful to seek professional help from a trainer who specializes in handling anxious dogs.


One common reason why dogs pant in the car is excitement. When dogs get excited, their heart rate and breathing increase, leading to panting. This can happen when they see something interesting outside the window or when they anticipate arriving at a fun destination.

It’s important to keep your dog calm during car rides by providing a secure and comfortable environment. This can include using calming aids or techniques, playing soothing music or white noise, and giving them familiar items for comfort.

By addressing their excitement and creating a relaxing atmosphere, you can help reduce excessive panting in the car and make the journey more enjoyable for your furry friend.

Physical discomfort or pain

Dogs may pant in the car if they are experiencing physical discomfort or pain. This could be due to an underlying medical condition, such as arthritis or an injury. It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body language and look for signs of distress, like limping or whining.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian before traveling with your pup. They can help diagnose and treat any potential issues, ensuring a more comfortable journey for your furry friend.

Keeping your dog in a secure and comfortable position during the car ride can also help alleviate any physical discomfort they may be experiencing.

why do dogs pant in the car

How to Prevent Excessive Panting in the Car

To prevent excessive panting in the car, keep the car cool and well-ventilated, provide access to fresh water, create a comfortable and secure environment, gradually acclimate your dog to car rides, and consider using calming aids or techniques.

Keep the car cool and well-ventilated

  • Make sure the car is cool and has good air flow.
  • Roll down the windows or use air conditioning to keep the temperature comfortable for your pup.
  • Avoid leaving your dog alone in a hot car, as high temperatures can lead to overheating and serious health problems.
  • Use sun shades or window visors to block out direct sunlight and keep the interior from getting too hot.
  • Before getting in the car, check the temperature inside by touching the seats and surfaces to make sure they’re not too hot for your dog’s paws.

Remember: Dogs regulate their body temperature through panting, so it’s important to keep them cool during car rides.

Provide access to fresh water

Make sure your pup has access to fresh water during car rides. Dogs can become dehydrated quickly, especially when they’re panting a lot. Keep a bowl of water in the car for them to drink from, and offer it to them at regular intervals or whenever they seem thirsty.

This will help keep them cool and hydrated throughout the journey. Remember, dogs regulate their body temperature through panting, so having access to water is important for their comfort and well-being while traveling in the car.

Create a comfortable and secure environment

To make your dog feel comfortable and secure in the car, try these tips:

  • Use a cozy blanket or bed for them to lie on.
  • Make sure they have enough space to move around comfortably.
  • Provide their favorite toys or chew treats to keep them occupied.
  • Use a harness or crate to keep them safe and prevent them from jumping around.
  • Cover the windows with shades or curtains to reduce external stimuli.
  • Keep the noise level low by playing soft music or using white noise machine.

Gradually acclimate your dog to car rides

  • Start by introducing your dog to the car in a calm and positive manner.
  • Allow them to explore the car when it is stationary, giving them treats or praise for getting in and out.
  • Once they are comfortable with being inside the car, start taking short drives around the block.
  • Increase the duration of the trips gradually, always making sure your dog is relaxed and at ease.
  • If your dog shows signs of anxiety or discomfort, go back to shorter trips and give them more time to get used to it.
  • Create a pleasant experience by playing their favorite music or providing them with a familiar blanket or toy during the car rides.

Remember that each dog is different, so be patient and understanding as you acclimate them to car rides. Using positive reinforcement and creating a positive association with traveling can help reduce panting and stress in the car.

Consider using calming aids or techniques

To help keep your dog calm in the car, you can try using calming aids or techniques. Here are some options to consider:

  • Use a calming spray or pheromone diffuser in the car to create a soothing environment.
  • Play calming music or white noise to help mask any outside sounds that might be causing anxiety.
  • Consider using a thundershirt or anxiety wrap, which provides gentle pressure and can help reduce stress.
  • Introduce your dog to relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or massage, before getting in the car.
  • Consult with your veterinarian about natural supplements or medications that may help calm your dog during car rides.
why do dogs pant in the car

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Calm in the Car

Use positive reinforcement and rewards to create a positive association with car rides for your dog.

Use positive reinforcement and rewards

To keep your pup calm in the car, it’s important to use positive reinforcement and rewards. Here are some tips that can help:

  1. Give treats: Reward your dog with small, tasty treats when they exhibit calm behavior in the car. This will create a positive association with car rides.
  2. Use praise: Offer verbal praise and petting when your dog remains calm during the journey. Positive attention can reinforce good behavior.
  3. Provide toys: Bring along their favorite toys to keep them occupied and distracted during the ride. Interactive toys like puzzle feeders or chew toys can be particularly helpful.
  4. Take short practice trips: Start by taking short practice trips to familiarize your dog with being in the car. Gradually increase the duration of these trips as they become more comfortable.
  5. Make it fun: Play games or engage in activities that your dog enjoys while in the car, such as playing fetch or teaching them new tricks using treats as rewards.

Take frequent breaks for exercise and bathroom breaks

To ensure your dog stays comfortable during car rides, it’s important to take frequent breaks. This allows them to stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, and release any pent-up energy. Regular breaks also help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs. Here are some tips for taking breaks with your pup:

  1. Plan ahead: Before you start your journey, research pet-friendly rest stops or parks along your route where you can safely stop and let your dog stretch their legs.
  2. Take short walks: When you stop, take a short walk with your dog. This will not only give them a chance to exercise but also provide mental stimulation and reduce restlessness.
  3. Offer bathroom breaks: Make sure to provide regular opportunities for your dog to relieve themselves during the breaks. This will prevent discomfort and accidents inside the car.
  4. Hydrate properly: Always carry fresh water and a portable bowl with you so that you can offer your dog water during the breaks, especially on hot days.
  5. Allow sniffing time: Dogs love exploring their surroundings through sniffing. Give them some time to investigate their surroundings during each break, as this can help alleviate boredom.

Provide familiar and comforting items

To help keep your dog calm in the car, it’s important to provide familiar and comforting items. Here are some things you can consider:

  • Bring their favorite toys or blankets that have their scent on them.
  • Use a crate or carrier that they are familiar with, as it can provide a sense of security.
  • Pack treats or snacks that they enjoy as rewards for good behavior during the ride.
  • Consider using calming products like pheromone sprays or anxiety wraps to help reduce stress.
  • Play soothing music or white noise in the car to create a relaxing environment.

Play soothing music or use white noise

To help keep your dog calm in the car, you can play soothing music or use white noise. Just like humans find comfort in relaxing sounds, dogs can benefit from it too. Soft classical music or calming instrumental tracks can create a peaceful atmosphere for your pup during the ride.

Alternatively, you can try using white noise machines or apps that produce gentle background sounds like ocean waves or rainfall. These soothing sounds can distract your dog and help reduce anxiety while traveling.

So go ahead and turn on some tunes or white noise to provide a tranquil environment for your furry friend in the car journey.

Seek professional help if needed

If your dog continues to pant excessively in the car despite your efforts to keep them calm and comfortable, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. A qualified dog trainer or behaviorist can assess your furry friend’s specific needs and provide guidance on how to address their anxiety or discomfort during car rides.

They can also offer training techniques or recommend calming aids that may help alleviate your dog’s panting and make traveling in the car a more pleasant experience for everyone. Remember, it’s important to prioritize your pup’s well-being and seek expert advice if you’re unsure how to best support them during car travel.

why do dogs pant in the car


In conclusion, understanding why dogs pant in the car is important for ensuring their safety and comfort during travel. Whether it’s due to overheating, motion sickness, anxiety, or excitement, there are steps we can take to prevent excessive panting.

By keeping the car cool and well-ventilated, providing fresh water and a secure environment, gradually acclimating our pups to car rides, and using calming aids if needed, we can help make the journey a more pleasant experience for both us and our furry friends.


1. Why do dogs pant in the car?

Dogs may pant in the car due to excitement, stress and discomfort, or even pain from an underlying disease. High temperatures in cars can also cause excessive panting.

2. How can I keep my dog cool during car rides?

You should always make sure your car is cooled before setting off on a trip with your pup, you should provide fresh water, and take breaks if needed to ensure they’re not overheating.

3. What signs show my dog is stressed or uncomfortable while traveling?

Travel anxiety can cause overstimulation, which can lead to excessive panting or other signs of stress like restlessness, whining, and showing symptoms of being sick.

4. What are some calming aids for dogs when traveling?

Calming aids could be toys that they like or treats that help create positive associations with the journey; these could help lessen travel anxiety in dogs.

5. Should I seek professional help if my dog continues to pant excessively while in the car?

If addressing stress and discomfort doesn’t stop your dog’s heavy breathing while traveling then yes! It might be best to seek professional advice from a trainer who knows about canine behaviour inside cars.

6.What are essentials to pack for road trips with dogs?

While packing for road trips with pups its important not just food, but also safety gears like harnesses; ensuring hydration means carrying enough water & taking right supplies, so pups stay calm during travel.

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