Common Dog Sleeping Problems

Dog sleeping patterns can be interrupted for a variety of reasons, which is especially common in senior dogs. If your dog has recently developed sleeping problems, either a medical or behavioral problem could be the cause.

Causes of Sleeping Problems

The most common causes of sleeping problems are seen in senior dogs who are beginning to have vision and hearing failure. Difficulty hearing or seeing can disorient or frighten your dog, disturbing his sleeping pattern and causing him to wander the house at night.

Senior dogs can also suffer from canine dementia, which is similar to human Alzheimer's syndrome. Symptoms of dementia include confusion, changes in behavior, lack of recognition for his name or well-known commands and lack of interest in things that previously excited him. He may become easily confused by doors or corners, and appear to be lost in your house. He may also be more easily startled by things that didn't used to frighten him.

Anxious dogs can have difficulty sleeping because they're frightened by noises or shadows. An under-exercised dog may also have too much anxious energy to sleep through the night.

Though more rare, sleeping problems can also be caused by discomfort due to uncomfortable sleeping conditions or illness. If your dog suddenly develops sleeping problems, have him evaluated by a veterinarian for health problems. If you recently changed your pet's diet, add a spoonful of canned pumpkin to his meals for a week to reduce stomach upset.

Treatment for Sleeping Problems

Depending on the cause of your dog's sleeping problems, there may be a few things you can do to ease his comfort and help him sleep through the night.

If your dog's vision is failing, put a night light near his bed to help him see. This might also alleviate the fears of an anxious dog. If he has trouble hearing, play a radio or television for him at night so that he has constant, soothing noise. Add a DAP diffuser to your senior or anxious dog's sleep area to provide calming pheremones around bedtime.

Both anxious and senior dogs suffering from dementia can benefit from a consistent routine. Provide daily exercise to wear your dog out before bedtime. This will vary based on the age of your dog, but young dogs often need two 40-minute sessions of full-blown running daily. If your anxious dog is having trouble sleeping, provide him with more stimulating exercise.

Feed your dog at the same time, several hours before bed. If your dog is suffering from stomach aches, this will give him time to digest his food. Set a consistent bedtime as well, so that your dog knows his nightly routine. Create a safe sleeping space for your anxious dog, especially in a covered or confined area, which will comfort him like a den.

Make sure your dog is warm or cool enough and has comfortable bedding. Massage or pet him before bed to soothe his nerves.

If your dog's sleeping problem is not caused by an illness, increasing his comfort and providing him with routine are your best bet for helping him sleep through the night.