Skip to Content

Why Does My Dog Pant in the Car? Should I Be Worried?

Why Does My Dog Pant in the Car? Should I Be Worried?

Many dog owners enjoy traveling in cars with their dogs as it is usually fun-filled. However, for some dog owners, their dogs do not often do well while traveling in cars. A few minutes into the journey, they begin to pant and make their owners worried. If you have ever experienced this before, you must understand what causes it.

Dogs pant in the car for various reasons; fear of car rides, anxiety, motion sickness, dehydration, overheating, medical issues, excitement, body pain, temperature, and discomfort. Panting is normal dog behavior; however, you know something is wrong every time your dog pants when it is in the car.

Due to the inability of dogs to communicate as fluently as humans do, we have to look out for other behaviors that indicate and tell us what a dog is experiencing at different points in time.

happy dog window carWhy Does My Dog Pant In The Car?

Panting is a behavior that dog owners are familiar with. It is a mechanism dogs use to cool their body temperature naturally, especially when hot. Unlike humans, we can easily sweat through our skin whenever we feel hot; dogs do not sweat the same way. Instead, they sweat through their paws and pant, which helps them cool down their temperature.

However, aside from regulating body temperature, there are other reasons why dogs pant. If your dog pants whenever it is in a car, it could be due to excitement, motion sickness, anxiety, and even pain. We will be explaining some common reasons for this behavior below.


If the temperature in a car is too hot for a dog, it could begin to pant to cool off and regulate its body temperature. Regardless of your dog’s coat, be it a long coat or a very short coat, all dogs are usually uncomfortable in hot temperatures. So, if you notice your dog panting when the car is a bit hot, it could signify that it feels hot.

You need to switch on the air conditioner in the car or pull over so the dog can get fresh air outside the car. Once its body temperature becomes stable, it stops panting. It is best advised to always keep the windows rolled down when going on car trips with your dog.

Car Sickness

Another common reason dogs pant in a car is car sickness. This behavior is more common in puppies, and they often outgrow it as they grow older. However, adult dogs who are not used to going out in cars could also experience it. Once you notice your dog panting, drooling, and wanting to vomit while in a car, it is a sign of car sickness.

Car sickness is often caused by the rocking of the car and the sight of fast-moving objects outside the car. To help a dog experiencing car sickness, you must speak to a veterinarian about their symptoms. Also, to prevent your dog from vomiting, ensure it does not feed hours before the commencement of the journey.

Similar post: Why Does My Dog Groan? What Does It Mean Exactly?

Discomfort Or Pain

Dogs are very good at hiding pains, as they do not like to appear weak or vulnerable. However, when the pain becomes unbearable, the dog could begin to pant. Regardless of whether the dog is inside a car or not, you would notice it panting more. This kind of pant is different from when a dog feels hot, as it could even occur during cold weather.

As much as the dog continues to suffer from pain or discomfort, the intensity of the pain also increases. Also, the dog could be seen looking very weak, its eyes shut while it sticks its tongue out. Once you notice these signs in your dog, it is an indication your dog is feeling pain.

Common causes of pains or discomfort in dogs include physical injury, allergic reaction, bowel disease, bloating, and parasitic infections. So, if you notice your dog is in pain, you should first inspect it for physical injuries. However, if you cannot detect any, you could take it to a vet for a proper checkup and treatment.


Taking your dog on a little walk or engaging it in some outdoor exercises could make it easily feel hot. When hot, it could begin to pant to cool itself, which makes it evaporate water and gets thirsty quickly. Traveling in a car for a long time could also make your dog begin to pant when it feels hot, leading to dehydration.

So, if you notice your dog panting some minutes after your journey has commenced, it could indicate dehydration. What you need to do at such a point is pull over, then give your dog enough water to drink. Once it stays hydrated, the panting would stop, then you could continue with your journey.


Anxiety is another reason why your dog could pant while in the car. For a dog not used to entering cars, its first ride will be terrifying, making it fearful and anxious. To be sure a dog is anxious, watch out for signs like shivering, drooling, peeing, and panting during the ride.

For a dog like this, positive reinforcement is a way of helping it feel less anxious. Make the dog feel very calm and show affection while in the car. Also, ensure you drive very slowly during the first ride and make the trip short. The dog would overcome its fears with time and would love to ride with you.

Why Does My Dog Pant And Shake In The Car?

It is not a strange sight to see a dog panting; dogs pant everywhere, in the house, in the park, in the car, and even when playing. However, if your dog begins to shake and pant every time it is in the car, you know something is wrong. One of the major reasons this happens is that the dog is uncomfortable.

If you always put your dog in the backseat during car rides, it will begin to pant and shake at some point. Backseats are not the most comfortable and enjoyable riding spot for dogs. It is better to have them in a separate kennel, which is more comfortable and safer for the dogs.

The awkward shape of the back seat makes it difficult for dogs to sit upright, so they are uncomfortable. The discomfort and frustration the dog experiences throughout the ride will cause it to shake and pant. Another cause will be that the dog has an underlying medical issue.

Suppose you see your dog panting and shaking in the car or anywhere else; that indicates that the dog is in pain. You need to take the dog to a vet for a medical checkup and treatment.

Why Do Dogs Pant?

Dogs do not pant for fun; they pant to cool their body temperature and catch their breath when working. They also pant when anxious, happy, stressed, uncomfortable, afraid, hot, excited, in pain, thirsty, and overheated.

two dog seat back car

Do Dogs Pant When They Are Happy?

On some occasions, dogs pant when they are happy. In this case, their panting is not to regulate their body temperature. If your dog is about to partake in something exciting, like a play or a walk, you will notice that its breathing will become slightly heavier. This is the sign of an adrenaline rush in your dog.

Keep reading: Why Do Dogs Sneeze When Playing? Is It Normal? [MAIN REASONS]

Final Thoughts

The fact that panting is normal in dogs does not mean you should ignore it when it becomes excessive. In fact, you should be able to tell if there is something wrong with your dog when you see the way it pants. There are different ways to keep a dog calm during car trips; check for some of them; they will be helpful.

Also read: Why Does My Dog Drool in the Car?