Insomnia isn't as common with dogs as it is in people. However, puppies can have troubles sleeping, especially when they first arrive in their new home. Even older pups can have issues and not be able to sleep through the night. In fact, when owners are dealing with insomnia, it can impact how well their pets sleep, too. Fortunately, there are a number of natural insomnia treatments you can try that may benefit your dog.
Before You Begin
Dogs typically have no problem sleeping and many will zonk right out whenever they get the chance. If your older dog has always slept well, health issues may be preventing it from getting a good night's sleep. Conditions such as pain, dementia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and urinary tract infections can have a negative effect on a dog's sleep. In these cases, it's best to schedule a check-up with your vet. Be sure to tell the vet about any other unusual behaviors your dog is exhibiting as it may help with the diagnosis.
On the other hand, it's not unusual for puppies to cry and have trouble sleeping after first arriving in their new home. After all, they've just left their mother and siblings where they probably slept in a pile, and now they are asked to sleep by themselves in a strange new place.
Once they have settled in, puppies typically sleep very well. They get plenty of naps while you're at work which means they have lots of energy to stay awake at night to guard the house, play, and pester snoozing owners. Since midnight games likely won't thrill you, there are a number of methods you can use to prompt your pet to sleep on your timetable.
What You Need
Set aside some time to play at night, and have a few things on hand to help your dog establish a bedtime routine.
- Pheromones or doggie stress reducers
Move the Bed
The first step is to rethink the placement of your dog's bed. Very young pups do better when they can hear and smell you, so moving the puppy's bed closer to your own may improve the pooch's rest.
Try Calming Aids
There are a number of products available that are designed to relieve stress and calm anxious dogs down. One of these may be helpful, particularly when a dog is trying to adjust to sleeping in a strange place. Some products are sprays that can be applied around your dog's sleeping area, others are added to your dog's drinking water, and some are chewable.
For extreme anxiety that's keeping your dog up, your vet may have a prescription medication available as well. In any case, it's best to consult your vet before giving your dog any calming product to ensure it won't negatively affect your dog's health. This is particularly important with young puppies, breeding females, and dogs with previous medical conditions.
Play Later at Night
Sometimes all you have to do is put more effort into wearing your dog out. Try scheduling playtime a half hour before bedtime and burn off your dog's excess energy so it will be ready to crash when you do. Chasing a ball usually does it for dogs.
In a household with multiple pets, it's a good idea to wear all of them down before bed. Cats are naturally more nocturnal, so a nighttime game with a flashlight beam or feather may keep your kitty from waking up the dog. Also, if you're being pestered far too early in the morning to fill a food bowl, a small late night meal may do the trick.
Put on Music
Music therapy can work wonders to act as a natural sedative for your pets. Try playing slow, calm, instrumental music at a low volume to soothe your puppy and help lull it to sleep.
The time-keeper hormone melatonin tells people and animals when to sleep and when to wake up. Melatonin supplements have been used in people to treat jet lag and sleep disorders and some veterinarians recommend using it to help pets sleep too. Melatonin is available at health food stores, but ask your vet about the proper dosage before giving it to your dog.
Offer Warm Milk
Milk contains the chemical tryptophan that helps promote sleep. A quarter cup of warm milk as a bedtime snack may help your dog snooze more readily. However, some dogs don't digest milk easily, so nix the snack if your dog develops diarrhea.
Try giving your dog a bedtime massage to slow down its energy and soothe it into a restful state. Slow gentle strokes can relax the uptight puppy so it sleeps better throughout the night.
Preventing Problems With Your Dog Who Can't Sleep
If your dog is into midnight playtime, the biggest mistake you can make is to give it attention. In most cases, just ignoring the antics teaches the pet that it won't get attention for disturbing your slumber. Any sort of attention reinforces the behavior, so your dog will continue the pestering routine. Close your eyes, grit your teeth, and don't move a muscle. If you have trouble practicing tough puppy love, you can always resort to earplugs!