It seems unlikely that a dog would have insomnia. Typically, dogs have the opposite problem of sleeping too much! But, as strange as it might seem, some dogs do have issues with being able to sleep. Insomnia typically stems from either a behavioral problem (such as anxiety) or a medical problem (like chronic pain). It is most often seen in elderly dogs, who, much like humans, have difficulties sleeping as they age. An occasional night without sleep is not going to do your dog any harm, but if they start suffering from insomnia consistently, it may be cause for concern.
Why does my dog have trouble sleeping?
It makes sense that if your dog is in pain or otherwise unwell that they may not be sleeping well. Your dog cannot tell you what is wrong, so canine insomnia may be one of the symptoms that indicates an underlying medical condition, such as the onset of arthritis or hip dysplasia. Your dog may be experiencing some sort of injury you cannot readily see.
Other medical issues that may interrupt your pet’s sleep include kidney problems, fleas, diabetes, thyroid problems, allergies, and urinary incontinence. If the sleep trouble is a new thing with your furry buddy, visit the vet to rule out pain, infection, or another medical condition.
Canine insomnia in otherwise healthy dogs is most often a symptom of anxiety or stress. It could be from tensions they are picking up in the home, or they might be naturally nervous and sensitive to their surroundings. If you have recently moved, unfamiliar sounds and smells could also be the culprit. The slightest sounds will often wake dogs up if they are not used to hearing them.
Lack of exercise can also be a cause for insomnia in dogs. This is particularly true if you have a breed that is prone to high energy and they are not getting enough exercise. Your dog may have too much pent-up energy, which makes it difficult for them to sleep.
How can I help my dog fall asleep?
If canine insomnia is a problem for your dog, chances are good they are keeping you up at night as well. This makes finding a solution imperative for both of you. There are many natural solutions you can try that help your dog relax and make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay that way for the duration of the night.
Herbs – Mild herbs have a relaxing, calming effect that can be helpful with canine insomnia. Valerian and passionflower, given an hour before bedtime, can help your dog fall asleep. Check with a holistic veterinarian to get the right dose for your dog’s size.
Pheromone Diffuser – This remedy is used most commonly to relieve anxiety in dogs. A diffuser, filled with a synthetic form of the pheromones naturally produced by mother dogs after birth and when lactating, is placed in the room where your dog sleeps. The pheromones calm your dog and help them relax, which will make it easier for them to sleep.
Aromatherapy – Essential oils such as lavender, valerian, Roman chamomile, marjoram, and clary sage can create a calming effect when used in the same room as your dog. One popular way to use essential oils for dogs is to put a few drops of lavender on your dog’s bedding.
Exercise – Not only can late-night exercise help burn off energy, but it acts as a natural relaxant by making dogs tired. Dogs who get regular exercise are more likely to sleep soundly. Daytime exercise like swimming or water treadmill work can also help dogs who have chronic pain from arthritis or hip dysplasia.
Orthopedic Beds – For dogs suffering from arthritis, changing up where they sleep and giving them a softer bed can help them have less pain. The softer bedding reduces the number of pressure points and helps circulation, which helps to reduce the pain. For both younger and older dogs, moving their bed close to where you sleep can have a soothing effect.
Should I call the veterinarian?
Most often, canine insomnia is nothing serious, but sometimes, when it is present with other symptoms it can indicate that it is time for a trip to the vet. If your dog has suddenly started drinking more water and needs to urinate more than usual, it could indicate an underlying medical condition. If your dog has recently had some sort of physical trauma, like being hit by a car, it could indicate injuries you cannot see.
If your dog whines or cries in the middle of the night, or gets up stiff in the morning, it could also indicate pain. Aging dogs who are falling, stumbling, or acting like they do not know where they are may have arthritis or dementia, both of which can affect your pet’s ability to get some rest.
You should not let sleep issues go on for too long. Canine insomnia can make life difficult for you, the owner, and cause health issues for your dog. It goes without saying that if you have tried a few natural remedies and they do not work, then it is time to take your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup. Your vet can ensure that your dog is healthy and perhaps give you some alternatives to try that might help your pet get the rest they need.