They say you should let sleeping dogs lie, but what happens when your dog won’t sleep or lie?
Your dog is just as susceptible to a sleepless night as you are. While you might struggle with the worries and stresses that come with being an adult human, your dog doesn’t have these concerns. So, what could be keeping your dog from getting some shuteye? Why is your dog restless at night?
Stop Googling – Ask a Real Vet
His life is well in hand; food arrives effortlessly at regular intervals, so there is no need to hunt for that. He has a warm and safe place to call home. Regular walks and playtime with his best pal (i.e., you). It hardly seems like there’s much that could keep your pup from catching his nighttime ZZZs.
So, if you’ve got an insomniac doggo, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll dive into why your dog might not be sleeping and what you can do about it. Read on!
- Reasons your dog won’t sleep at night
- Things your dog might do instead of sleeping
- How to get your dog to sleep at night? Tips for better sleep for your dog
Reasons your dog won’t sleep at night
The average adult dog generally sleeps for about 12 to 14 hours a day, in a combination of small naps and longer periods of sleep throughout the day. But sometimes, that long nighttime snooze doesn’t come as easily as it should.
These are some of the reasons your dog isn’t sleeping at night:
Your dog’s nose and ears are significantly more sensitive than our own, so any foreign sounds or smells at night can disturb your dog’s sleep. So good are your dog’s senses that the disturbances that keep them awake may even be coming from the next-door neighbor. Loud TVs, windchimes, banging shutters, or even just talking can disrupt your dog’s sleep.
It may even be that your dog hears a nighttime visitor in your home that you’re unaware of – think bats, rats, squirrels, and even raccoons. Critters under the deck or in the attic can cause untold torment to your doggo, so look out for pacing behavior, barking, and whining.
Let’s rewrite that old fairy tale. It’s no longer the Princess and the Pea; it’s now the Pupper and the Pea! A lumpy bed, a cold room, or an itchy blanket can all contribute to your dog simply not finding a comfy enough position to drift off into dreamland. If your dog is restless at night, look into their bed situation.
Pain and physical problems
If your dog is suddenly not sleeping at night and nothing else has changed in the environment, it may be time to consider a trip to the vet to rule out any physical problems.
Sore muscles, wounds, digestive problems, and even itches can keep your dog up all night. These will usually come with other symptoms, too, so keep an eye out for changes in appetite and activity that might give you a clue as to what might be bothering your best friend.
Chronic pain is one of the main reasons for an older dog not sleeping.
Behavioral and emotional issues
Not getting enough physical exercise or mental stimulation during the day can cause your dog to struggle with sleep at night. This abundance of unspent energy will lead to a restless night for your dog.
If you’re out most of the day, chances are good that the dog slept most of the time you were gone, and now that you’re back, they’ve slept enough and have plenty of energy to spare. If you’re keen to see what your best friend is up to while you’re at work or out, the pet camera is a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of your dog’s day-to-day.
While you may think your dog’s life is blissfully stress-free, your dog can experience stress or anxiety that can keep them awake at night. Stress for a dog can come from disruptions to the daily routine – moving to a new home or even a new family member or pet.
These kinds of stress can easily make you feel uneasy and anxious and result in a dog that won’t go to sleep.
Dogs, like their humans, are susceptible to various sleep disorders. Sleep is key to your dog’s overall well-being, so a sustained lack of sleep can leave your dog in poor shape.
Sleep disorders should never be left untreated.
According to research, sleep apnea in dogs is quite rare, but when it does occur, it’s usually in fat-faced breeds like pugs, English bulldogs, and Boston terriers.
The condition results in the narrowing or obstruction of the airways during sleep. This restriction of breathing causes your dog to awaken frequently during the night, preventing good-quality sleep.
Left untreated, sleep apnea in dogs can be life-threatening. If you’re not sure your dog has sleep apnea, listen out for loud, chronic snoring – this is the most common sign. If your pup is on the heavier end of the spectrum, consider helping him lose some weight, as this can greatly help the condition.
Read more: Dog Snoring: Is it Normal for Dogs to Snore?
REM Behavior Disorder
REM Behavior Disorder causes physical activity during sleep, which means your dog doesn’t rest adequately and can wake up tired.
How will you know if your dog has this sleep disorder? Your dog may be chasing bunnies in his sleep more often than not. The disorder can sometimes be so severe that dogs even run into walls or attack stationary objects in the home while asleep. When they awake from this, they’re usually not confused or disoriented at all.
Is your dog on medication for another condition? Sleeplessness in dogs is likely a side effect of the medicine. To be sure, check the package insert of your dog’s meds to see if insomnia is on the list.
Things your dog might do instead of sleeping
The different causes of your dog not sleeping at night can lead to other behaviors. We mentioned those nighttime critters that keep your dog awake – this will likely cause your dog to pace up and down, whine, or even bark at seemingly nothing.
If your dog is restless, it might be that his bed is uncomfortable or that he may be in pain or physical discomfort. Maybe your dog has some pent-up energy and can’t lie still.
If your dog is panting and pacing, it might indicate that they are anxious or stressed about something. If your dog is panting heavily at night, this could signal that they are in pain or unwell.
An interactive dog camera helps you see what your dog is up to at night without having to get out of bed. This allows you to observe his behavior without disturbing him, so you can gain a lot of insight into what may be keeping your dog awake.
How to get your dog to sleep at night? Tips for better sleep for your dog
If your dog isn’t sleeping at night, you can do a few things to help the situation.
- Stick to a strict routine. This way, your dog can anticipate bedtime and knows it’s time to chill out and get some ZZZs. Consistency is key.
- Time their dinner well – not too early that they’ll be hungry again at bedtime, but not so late that they’ll need to go out in the middle of the night to relieve himself.
- Make sure your doggo is all tuckered out from a good workout. Regular exercise is so important for your dog and a great way to bond with your bestie.
- Wind down as you get closer to bedtime. Don’t get your dog too excited before sleepy time.
- Assess your dog’s sleeping spot. Is it comfortable? Is it cool enough or warm enough? Are there ambient noises that could disturb him? Too much light?
- Get a good check-up at the vet to rule out anything medical.
How much do puppies sleep?
Puppies generally sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day.
My dog keeps panting and won’t settle. What must I do?
Panting is a very normal response to exercise, heat, or excitement. At night, if your dog is panting and restless, it can be a sign that it is anxious, afraid, or in pain.
What can I give my dog to sleep at night?
When it comes to sleep problems, we recommend chatting with your vet. There are a few natural remedies and sleep aids available over the counter, but it’s always best to work with your vet.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that aids sleep. It’s generally very safe for pets, with the most common side effects being lethargy and stomach upset. Warning: always check the product label to ensure it doesn’t contain xylitol which is very toxic to dogs.
Read more: Dogs and Melatonin: Safety, Dosage, and Side Effects
How to calm a restless dog at night?
Make sure that your dog has a snug and safe space in which to sleep. If your dog is particularly anxious, bring their bed closer to yours so they feel safe. Make sure they’ve been out for a potty break, give them a tasty treat, and offer them a soft toy to snuggle with. Sit with them a bit, stroking them gently in slow, long movements.