Canine Insomnia

Insomnia sometimes occurs in older dogs. It may also be an indication that your dog is not feeling well. This page looks at the possible causes of insomnia in dogs, and how natural remedies such as herbs, flower essences, and aromatherapy can help a dog go to sleep.

Great Dane Canine insomnia sounds like an oxymoron since, after all, dogs seem to be able to sleep anytime and anywhere.

Indeed, dogs do not suffer from insomnia too often. However, they do get sleepless nights from time to time. And when they cannot sleep, especially for several days in a row, then we have to pay attention because most likely there is something wrong with the dog.

This page looks at some possible causes of canine insomnia, some natural remedies for dog insomnia, as well as things we can do that can help an insomniac dog go to zz-Land.

Causes, Natural Remedies and Prevention of Insomnia in Dogs

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Causes of Insomnia in Dogs


Emotional Problems

Just like us, dogs find it difficult to sleep if there is tension in the house, or if he is feeling anxious or stressed. Remember, dogs are very sensitive and can pick up feelings and emotions from their human buddies. If there is tension between family members, or if there is a visitor sleeping in the house, your dog may get nervous and restless and cannot get to sleep.

Physical Problems

A dog cannot sleep if he is not feeling well physically. He may be kept awake by such health problems as:

Medication

Some medication, such as corticosteroids (e.g. Prednisone) can cause numerous side-effects to a dog, one of which is insomnia.

Age

Older dogs (like older people) are more likely to wake up easily than younger dogs because they tend to have more aches and pains and other health problems. Also, their hearing and eyesight may be weakened and so sometimes some older dogs may become afraid of the dark.

Inadequate Exercise

We sleep better if we have enough exercise during the day - so do dogs! If a dog is not getting enough exercise, he may have too much pent-up energy that he is simply not tired enough to have a full-night sleep.

When to See a Vet

If your dog has insomnia and is showing some of these signs, then a visit to the vet is highly recommended:

  • Your dog has recently started to drink more water and the need to urinate has become more frequent.
  • Your dog has been hit by a car or has had some kind of physical trauma, even if she seems fine afterward.
  • Your dog seems stiff, and his joints are swollen.
  • Your dog wakes up at night and starts whining or crying as if in pain.
  • Your aging dog is starting to act disoriented (e.g. does not know where he is), and/or clumsy (e.g. bumps into furniture).
  • Your dog wakes up at night, shivering or shaking even when it is not cold.
Puppy

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Natural Remedies for Canine Insomnia


Herbs

Herbs such as valerian and passionflower have calming properties and are effective in helping insomniac dogs. Use the tinctures of these herbs. Combine equal parts of valerian and passionflower and give 4 to 8 drops of the herbal mixture to your dog (depending on his size). The herbal remedy should be given about one hour before bedtime. You can give this remedy to your dog for up to two weeks.

Flower Essences

Flower essences are very effective in getting rid of negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, and nervousness caused either by physical problems or because of the dog's surroundings.

If your dog cannot sleep due to physical discomfort, pain, or fear, try using the flower essence Bach Flower Essences Rescue Remedy.

Use about 2 drops and rub the remedy directly on your dog's gums to relieve any anxiety.

Aromatherapy

Diffusing essential oils with calming effects in the room where your dog sleeps can also be helpful. Diffuse a few drops of any of these oils (or a combination of 2 to 3 oils): Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Sweet Marjoram, Valerian. (If you are interested in using essential oils with your dog, here is a useful eBook for you!)

You can also put one or two drops of Lavender directly on your dog's bed. Lavender is safe, soothing, and calming and can help your dog sleep better.

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Things We Can Do to Prevent Canine Insomnia


Exercise

Give your dog a workout (long walk, jogging, frisbee) every evening - A tired dog can naturally sleep more soundly.

Bed

Dogs suffering from arthritis need a softer bed for better cushioning. If your dog has arthritis, consider getting his an orthopedic bed. Also move his bed to a quiet and warm place.

As mentioned above, some older dogs may be afraid of the dark because they cannot see and hear as well. If this is the case for your dog, get a small nightlight and leave it on near his bed to help ease his mind.

Toilet Time

Young puppies, older dogs, as well as dogs with health problems (such as incontinence, diabetes) need to go to the bathroom more often. If your dog wakes up at night because he has to relieve himself, let him outside before bed time or train him to use a wee wee pad.

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