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Is Your Dog Panting in the Car? 6 Reasons & How to Fix It

If your dog is panting in the car, it can be due to anxiety, motion sickness, or pain. If your dog is generally comfortable on car rides, it can pant due to thirst, being too hot, or discomfort.

Panting is natural for dogs. It is their way of calming themselves after an exercise session. It is also effective in cooling their bodies down on hot summer days. 

If the panting only occurs when your dog sits inside your car, there can be an underlying problem that requires your attention.

Taking your canine friend for a car ride can become troublesome if your dog starts panting. Some dogs are uncomfortable with car rides and start acting strangely.

In this article, we’ll discuss the most common reasons why dogs pant in the car, and how to fix it.

Dog Panting in the Car

Car rides can cause discomfort for your dog resulting in panting and shaking. Slight panting is nothing to worry about, but excessive heavy breathing does require attention.

Dogs are great travel companions as they love spending time with their owners. If you travel frequently or if you like taking your dog with you everywhere, getting them used to car rides is important. 

Some dogs have no issues with riding in cars, while others start panting out of discomfort.

There are several reasons why dogs pant. Most of them do not require A visit to the veterinarian. Some of them are serious and require proper care and attention.

If your dog starts panting as soon as it sits on its seat, it is trying to tell you something. Read your dog’s body language and identify the root cause of the issue.

Dog Panting in Car

6 Reasons Dogs Pant in the Car

Dogs pant for several reasons. Your dog can pant due to fear of getting in the car or due to motion sickness. High temperature and dehydration are also probable causes of panting in dogs.

Dogs cannot communicate what they are feeling to their owners. They rely on using their body language to tell their owners how they feel. Panting is one such behavior that shows that your dog is feeling uncomfortable.

Here are six reasons why your dog is panting in the car.

1. High Body Temperature

Dog High Body Temperature in the car

One of the most common reasons dogs pant is due to high body temperatures. If your dog is feeling hot, it is normal for it to pant. Dogs do not have sweat glands like humans. Their sweat glands are limited to their paws and a few other areas, which makes it difficult for them to cool down.

Dogs pant to exhale the hot air and cool their bodies. It is more difficult for dogs to cool down on a warm day, especially if they have long coats. 

Panting is a clear giveaway that your dog is feeling hot.

You can expect some panting from your dog due to the heat if you are traveling on warm days. The best cure for this would be to turn on the air conditioning and observe if your dog’s breathing normalizes.

Related: How Does Panting Cool A Dog?

2. Motion Sickness

Motion sickness[1] can cause panting in your dog if it is not used to riding in a car. This behavior usually fades away with time, and dogs feel comfortable traveling with their owners.

Young dogs are more prone to motion sickness than adult dogs. It is caused by the lack of incoordination between the eyes and the inner ear, which is responsible for the balance.

Lack of air conditioning on hot days can also lead to sickness. If you observe that your dog is about to vomit, you should stop your car and let your dog walk for a while. This helps it get over the motion sickness and stabilize.

There are several signs of motion sickness to look for if your pooch is panting uncontrollably:

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, stop the car and let them out. Call a veterinarian if your dog’s condition worsens.

3. Dehydration

Dog Dehydration in the car

Another possible reason for panting in dogs is dehydration[2]. This is usually caused by hot temperatures which drain your dog’s bodily fluids. Dogs can also dehydrate in cold weather. 

Your dog is prone to dehydration if it does not drink adequate water. If the temperature in your car rises, your dog starts dehydrating.

Dehydration can be fatal if left unattended. Look for signs of dehydration in your pup. If it is lethargic or feeling weak, it can be the result of dehydration.

4. Anxiety

Dog pant due to anxiety. Dog owners often only take their dogs for a car ride when they have to visit a veterinarian. This creates an association between the car and the vet, making your dog anxious.

Dogs who are not used to car rides can also develop anxiety due to the new environment. Seeing the trees and the cars whizz past them can make dogs feel overwhelmed.

Make your dog used to usual car rides to reduce their anxiety. This helps make your travel partner feel more relaxed and stop panting.

5. Pain or Discomfort

Dog Pain or Discomfort in the car

Pain is another big factor contributing to panting. Some dogs whine when they are in pain, while others start panting.

There are a variety of reasons why your dog may be in pain:

  • Wounds
  • Bone fractures
  • Ligament and tendon tears
  • Musculoskeletal Issues [3]
  • Cramps
  • Infections

Notice if your dog yelps when you pick it up or touch him. Yelping is a sign that your dog is suffering from bodily harm and requires medical attention.

Discomfort can also cause panting in dogs. Large dog breeds often are unable to sit comfortably in the car. While this is not harmful, it can easily be resolved by making your dog feel comfortable.

Consult a veterinarian if your dog is in pain to provide your dog with proper treatment.

6. Medical Issues

Dog with Medical Issues

It is possible that your dog’s panting has nothing to do with being inside a car. A medical problem often leads to panting in dogs. 

There are several conditions that can cause panting in dogs:

  • Nausea
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory disorder
  • Choking

Consult a veterinarian and get your dog checked to get a proper screening of possible medical issues.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Pant in Car?

No, it is not normal for dogs to pant in cars without reason. If your dog is traveling in your car for the first time, some panting can be expected. Anxiety, pain, fear, and motion sickness can lead to panting.

Some dogs enjoy a car ride every now and then, others not so much. It is possible your dog is afraid of being in a car due to all the loud noises and speed. Panting is a great determiner of how your dog feels.

It is not normal for dogs to pant unless it is their first time inside a car.  If your dog is panting uncontrollably, there can be an underlying condition that requires your immediate attention. 

Identify the symptoms to figure out the possible cause of panting in your canine friend.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Pant in Car

How to Stop Dogs from Panting in the Car

Make your dog used to the idea of traveling in a car to stop them from panting. If your dog is feeling motion sick, use a dummy kennel to cover them. This prevents your dog from seeing the outside world fly by, which reduces the effects of motion sickness.

It is important to identify what is causing discomfort for your dog to prevent it. There are certain steps you can take to make your dog feel more comfortable and to stop the unusual panting.

How to stop dogs from panting in the car:

  • Take a break and let your dog cool off.
  • Turn on the air conditioning before putting your dog in the car on hot summer days.
  • Make your dog stay hydrated.
  • Block out your dog’s view of the world outside by putting them in a small portable kennel and covering it with a blanket.
  • Ensure that your backseat is comfortable enough for your pooch to sit straight.
  • Use a small portable bed or crate to provide better comfort to your dog when traveling long distances.
  • Frequently take your dog on car rides to curb their anxiety.

Consult your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing pain, injuries, or other medical issues to get better guidance and proper care for your pooch.


Panting is a sign of discomfort and anxiety, which can be triggered by a car ride. It is important to identify your dog’s grievances and cater to them as soon as possible.

There are several reasons why dogs pant in cars. Most of them are harmless and can easily be treated with some conditioning. Others require serious veterinary care and attention.

Consult a doctor if you are unsure of what is causing your dog to pant in the car.


How to Ease Dog Panting Due to Anxiety on a Car Trip?

Get your dog used to the idea of traveling in a car to stop them from panting while driving. The more frequently you travel with it, the less anxious it feels on the next ride. Make small trips around the neighborhood. Drive slowly and communicate with your dog constantly to make it feel safe and secure.

Why is My Dog Shaking in the Car?

Your dog can be shaking in your car for several reasons. The most obvious reasons are fear and anxiety. If your dog is afraid of traveling in the car, it can start shaking. Some dogs are fearful of car rides if they associate them with a trip to the veterinarian. Cold weather can also cause shaking in dogs, much like humans.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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