Restless at Night in Dogs

Written By Grace Park
Published: 06/07/2017Updated: 03/22/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
Why is my dog restless at night?

What is Restless at Night?

Although sleepless nights are common when it comes to new puppies or younger dogs, the restlessness will usually die down once the dog matures. However, if you notice that your dog is no longer sleeping through the night, constantly changing positions, and pacing around the room then there may be a more serious underlying issue that needs to be addressed. 

More often than not, restless sleep is a temporary issue and can be resolved. For some, it can be a case of excess energy which can be addressed by providing your dog with more exercise opportunities. Sometimes the restlessness will be due to environmental changes and the restlessness may cease once your dog has adjusted to them. However, if you notice that the behavior persists, you will want to visit a veterinarian in order to diagnose the underlying problem.

Some more common considerations include:

  • Canine dementia
  • A source of chronic pain
  • Anxiety 

Why Restless at Night Occurs in Dogs

Restless sleep is most commonly seen in puppies and younger dogs, especially after a big change or if sleeping arrangements are in a hot room. However, there can be more serious medical conditions that may be affecting your dog’s sleep. We need to consider canine dementia, pain, or anxiety. 

Canine Dementia 

As dogs age, they have the potential to develop canine dementia. This condition is especially common older dogs and one of the first signs can be restless sleep. When sleeplessness from dementia occurs, it is categorized as a behavioral issue, meaning that diagnosis of the problem can be somewhat difficult. A trip to the vet will be required in order to run blood work, urinalysis, and have a physical examination performed in order to determine the best course of action for helping your dog. If the diagnosis is dementia, medication can be used to help ease the symptoms, but there is no cure. 


Just like with humans, restless sleep can occur when the dog is in pain and no longer has the distractions of the day to take its mind off the issue. Pain or irritation can come from a number of different things including:

  • Ear Infections
  • Dental Disease
  • Skin Disease such as itchy rashes or hot spots
  • Arthritis or other Joint Disease
  • Cystitis
  • Cancer 

It is important to get your dog to the vet for a checkup in order to rule out any of these issues. Once the source of the pain has been taken care of, a more peaceful night’s sleep may be achieved. 


An anxious and stressed dog will have an extremely difficult time falling asleep. Pacing and frequent repositioning will most likely occur, especially in older dogs. There are many reasons why your dog may feel anxious; perhaps a big change in the home or a medical issue that has drastically affected it’s life. Even relatively non stressful events can cause anxiety in an older dog, such as wildlife in their garden or a new baby upstairs.

Additionally, as a dog ages, his bladder may become less able to function as it once did. Take your pet out for his last bathroom break as late as you possibly can. This may serve to provide a better sleep for your companion who will feel less anxious without the need to urinate. 

With any of these issues, it is important to get medical assistance from a trusted veterinarian. They will best be able to diagnose the underlying issue causing your dog’s restless sleep and prescribe any medication needed to help ease the symptoms.

The need for more frequent toilet breaks

Whether it is due to diarrhoea, cystitis or kidney disease, any change in their toilet habits can have a dog getting up more often through the night. Tests such as blood work, urine analysis and stool analysis should point us in the right direction so we can start the most appropriate treatment.

What to do if your Dog is Restless at Night

Whether your dog is experiencing a restless night at a young age or an old age, it is best to ask your vet for a thorough examination to rule out any harmful underlying issues. All medical issues should be taken care of first, and after everything else is ruled out, you can then work on retraining your dog into a proper sleep cycle. 

Often, sensory changes affect a dog’s ability to sleep well, such as eyesight failure or hearing disorders. By creating an environment for your dog that is dark and quiet, it may help to set the sleep cycle back to normal. If your dog is a puppy, using devices such as running water or a ticking clock can help to soothe the restless pup and provide a comforting environment in order to promote sleep. Getting plenty of exercise throughout the day will also help ensure a sleepy and happy dog.

Prevention of Restless at Night

One of the best ways to ensure your dog gets a full and restful sleep is to get plenty of exercise. Too much left over energy at the end of the day will make it difficult for your dog to get to sleep quickly. Provide a quiet, cool space for your dog to sleep in. 

If a more serious medical issue is causing the restlessness, be sure to follow your vet’s instructions accurately according to whatever the diagnosis may be. 

Never assume that age is the underlying issue for restless sleep. If you notice a constant issue with your dog’s sleep cycle, get your pet to the vet as soon as possible in order to determine the cause. Problems such as cancer, kidney disease, and dementia can be truly detrimental to the overall quality of your dog’s life and will need to be addressed immediately.

Cost of Restless at Night

Cost of treatment will vary greatly depending on what is going on. If your dog is diagnosed with canine dementia, the expense for therapy and medication may be around $350.

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Restless at Night Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Labrador Retriever



Two Years


7 found this helpful


7 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
My dog is panting,whining and restless all of a dudden

Sept. 29, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

7 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. What you are describing could be as a result of anxiety if there is something going on that is making your dog nervous, or pain. If it is something that is not getting better, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him and see what might be causing this problem. If he needs any medication they will be able to help you with that. I hope that all goes well for him and he feels better soon.

Oct. 3, 2020

Was this question and answer helpful?




Eight Years


6 found this helpful


6 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
My dog seams restless lays in one spot readjusts and repeat first time this happens

July 22, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

6 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. You may be noticing the first signs that your dog is starting to have arthritis, or they may have intestinal cramps of another reason for the restlessness. If it is something that keeps happening, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian, as they will be able to examine your dog and see what the cause might be. I hope that all goes well for your dog!

July 22, 2020

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