Why is my dog ​​panting in the car? – and how to stop it

Traveling with your dog in the car can be a great experience as your canine friend can experience new things and smells. However, dogs often pant during a walk. For some dogs, this panting is excessive and is accompanied by drooling and shaking. There are several reasons why dogs pant in a car. We cover them and also give tips on how to stop the panting so your dog will have a more enjoyable experience on your road trips.

Reasons why dogs pant, drool and shake in a car

Dog panting in the car | Troy Spoelma via Unsplash

Every dog ​​pant from time to time. Panting, or when dogs breathe with their mouth open, is usually a natural cooling mechanism. Breathing is faster and sometimes the tongue sticks out of the mouth. However, panting could also have a different meaning. This could be your dog’s way of telling you that he’s anxious, scared, or overstimulated by a car ride.

Here are the reasons why dogs pant, drool and shake in a car:

  • High temperature
  • Travel sickness
  • Anxiety
  • Overstimulation
  • Dehydration
  • medical problem

High temperature

Groodle dog panting in the car, highlighting why dogs are panting, drooling and shaking in the car and how to stop it
Dog panting in the car | Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Your dog might be excessively panting in a car due to the high temperature. Vehicle interiors can heat up considerably compared to the outside air, especially on hot, sunny days. When panting, a dog uses “the evaporation of moisture from its mouth to create circulation of warm and cold air,” as detailed by Paw Leaks.

Your car may be too hot for your dog. Open a window or turn on the air conditioning to cool the car and never leave your dog unattended in the vehicle on a hot day.

Dogs pant due to motion sickness

Like humans, dogs can get motion sickness in cars. Your dog’s excessive panting could be due to motion sickness. This is more often the case for puppies, which usually grow out of it.

Motion sickness is usually the result of motion sickness, which is caused by the brain receiving conflicting signals from different sensory systems in the body, including the eyes, inner ears, muscles, and joints.

To prevent your dog from getting car sickness, avoid feeding him for at least an hour before the car trip. Also, like humans, dogs will be more likely to get motion sickness if they can’t see out the window. One way to fix this is to get a raised car seat.

It’s also helpful to slit a window to let in some fresh air. In addition, there are medications that can relieve motion sickness. For more information, talk to your veterinarian.

Travel anxiety during journeys

Black dog panting in the car, highlighting why dogs pant, drool and shake in the car and how to stop it
Dog panting in the car | Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Panting can also result from travel anxiety for your dog, which is usually caused by the association of motion sickness during journeys. Panting, drooling, shaking, fussing and pacing are all signs that your dog is experiencing anxiety. Later we give some tips to reduce anxiety during car journeys.

If your dog has been in a car accident before, this could also be another source of travel anxiety. Additionally, if your dog is underexposed or has never been properly introduced to a car ride, he may experience travel anxiety. This is especially the case if you only walk your dog when you go to the vet. As a result, they will associate the ride with this possibly uncomfortable visit. To counter this, try taking your dogs to more pleasant places, such as a park.


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RELATED: Sticking their heads out of the car window is dangerous for dogs.

A car ride can be too stimulating an experience for dogs, resulting in panting. Dogs have stronger senses than humans, especially for smell and hearing. During a walk, a dog senses many new smells, which can overwhelm him. The sounds during a ride can also be loud, especially the roar of the engine. Driving on bumpy roads and taking sharp turns also adds to the overstimulation.


Another cause of gasping could be dehydration. This is more common on hot days or after a dog has had a lot of exercise, such as a long walk or fetch play. To avoid dehydration, make sure your dog has enough water to drink. For car trips, bring a portable water dispenser.

Medical issues

Excessive panting, drooling, and shaking can also be signs of an underlying medical condition. If these excessive behaviors occur outside of the car and persist for a long time, take your dog to the vet to have the issues resolved.

How to Calm Your Dog’s Anxiety During Car Trips and Reduce Panting, Drooling and Shaking

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RELATED: After a car accident, a 3-legged dog walks straight like a human

As detailed earlier, panting, drooling, and shaking during a car ride could be due to your travel anxiety for your dog. Here are some ways to calm your dog’s anxiety during car trips:

  • Encourage your dog to come by car by giving him treats. They will then associate the car with a positive experience.
  • Instead of taking long trips right away, take things step by step. Before you go on a trip, let your dog explore the car. Then, take short trips around your neighborhood to desensitize yourself and make driving a car a more familiar experience — and work your way up from there.
  • As mentioned earlier, don’t limit your car trips to just one visit to the vet. Create a more positive association for a car ride for your dog by taking him to nice places where he can walk and have fun.
  • In addition to treats, bring familiar items on the trip, such as toys, a pillow, or a blanket.
  • Reduce stress and adrenaline levels by exercising with your dog before the trip.
  • Spray dog ​​pheromones in your vehicle. As detailed by the American Kennel Club, these pheromones mimic the scent of a nursing dog. They can even relax adult dogs. In addition to sprays, pheromones for dogs are available in the form of diffusers and collars.

It can be disturbing to see a dog panting, drooling and shaking excessively during a car ride. However, there are various steps you can take to stop this behavior. Also talk to your veterinarian for further advice and to check for any underlying medical issues.

RELATED: Your car insurance may provide pet injury coverage for dogs and cats.

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