My theory about my dog's panting. What do you think?

My 15 year old dog over the last year has developed a habit where he starts panting at night after lights off. I thought it might be pain, but his eating and behavior is normal and he doesn’t pant at any other time. My boyfriend thought it might be heat, but my apartment is air conditioned, and nighttime is when it stays the coolest, especially my bedroom which is where he sleeps.

The other night I came up with a hypothesis: a few months ago he was diagnosed with a degenerative condition of the eyes (long name which escapes me) that will eventually make him blind. Right now I’m putting sodium chloride drops in his eyes in the morning and at night which is supposed to keep this condition at bay. I know the drops sting, but he doesn’t pant in the morning after I put them in, only at night.

I think he’s becoming anxious because he can’t see that well after the lights go off.

I’ve noticed over the last few months that he avoids areas outside at night that aren’t well it, and a few times recently he was scared shitless by and growled at my shadow which was cast by a street light after dark.

Two nights ago I put a night light in the corner by his bed, but I don’t know if or how much this will help his fear. He’s still been panting.

What do you think?

I was thinking ‘night lights’ before I saw you thought of that, too, and I think you’re probably on to something. He’s anxious, for whatever reason, likely his vision, and hence the panting. All I can think of, though, is more night lights, in other areas too in case he wanders at night. Maybe he gets scared to leave his little area WITH the night light 'cause it’s so dark out there!

The night light is possibly creating weird and unfamiliar shadows. Maybe a light on in the hallway might work better?

Could you move his bed over to where you sleep so that you can reach down and pet him?

That’s a good idea. I may try leaving on on the bathroom light which is less jarring in my very small apartment than the actual hall light which would bother me and my bird who sleeps in the opposite room. My bed is kind of high so it would be hard to pet him, let alone the neck-breaking hazard of trying to step over him drowsily if I get up to pee. It’s a small place.

I’ll try the bathroom light tonight.

Kind of odd that a dog cares that much about seeing. They can usually smell their way around just fine. Maybe there are other problems to consider. I hope it works out well, sounds like your friend really needs you now.

Update: since I’ve begun leaving on the bathroom light at night, my dog has not panted at all at night. Night light wasn’t working, but the light spilling from the bathroom into the hallway and in to where he sleeps seems to have provided reassurance to him at night.


That’s great to hear! I hate to think of them being anxious or stressed.

Great news! Glad you could figure it out, poor guy! He has a very loving packmate. :slight_smile:

My dog is afraid of the dark as well so I always leave a light on at night otherwise she lays there and pants all night too.


Glad to hear it. :slight_smile: