If you think insomnia is solely a human issue, then you might be surprised to hear that it is not. Dogs (and even cats) can suffer from sleepless nights and insomnia is something that affects them equally as much as it does humans. Remarkably, many of the reasons that humans suffer from insomnia are the same reasons that cause dogs to be unable to sleep.
Insomnia typically manifests in dogs as they age or as a result of a behavioral problem like anxiety or stress. The odd sleepless night can be completely normal, especially as dogs seem to spend a large part of the day snoozing. However, if you notice that your dog doesn’t seem to be sleeping properly for days on end, then it something that you want to address as soon as possible.
It could be triggered by one of many things, such as separation anxiety, sleep problems like chronic insomnia, and even depression. Understandably, if your dog is not well or he is in pain, then it makes sense that he is having trouble sleeping. And, as your dog isn’t able to tell you what is wrong, insomnia in dogs can be an indication of an underlying issue—one of the most common being arthritis or an injury that might not be immediately apparent. Stress and anxiety will also contribute to the lack of sleep in dogs. Therefore, if your dog seems to be in perfect health physically, then it is likely that there is an emotional issue that is keeping him up at night.
If you have recently moved or you have only just adopted your dog and brought him home, then you need to allow for them to settle into their surroundings so that they can fully relax. Don’t forget that a dog’s hearing is especially sensitive, so any unfamiliar noise can cause them to remain alert and guarded.
Canine insomnia can also be a result of lack of exercise, which is especially poignant in high-energy dogs. Their pent-up energy can easily convert into frustration and anxiety that prevents them from being able to sleep.
Regardless of the cause of your dog’s insomnia, sleep is essential to all living beings, so here are some tips to help your dog have a good night’s sleep.
As dogs lead relatively simple lives, their goals are not very complex. They look forward to mealtimes, playtime, and, of course, walkies! When you think about how often you walk your dog from this point of view, you can understand just how important exercise is for them and it is something that they will crave all day until it happens. This is exactly why implementing a daily routine can help you get their insomnia under control—if they know that every morning, they will be going out for enough exercise to allow them to rid themselves of excess energy. Then, theoretically, at least, any anxiety or stress related to lack of exercise should cease almost right away. If your dog is suffering from arthritis or very elderly, then you could replace physical exercise with mental exercise, like a game of seek and find or fetch.
Certain natural supplements can be invaluable when it comes to curing insomnia in dogs. Many people choose to add a few drops of rescue remedy to their dog’s meal or even feed heavier carbs such as potatoes along with their usual meat in the evening. Feeding time can also play a part in preventing your dog from being able to sleep, as they too can suffer from indigestion. Most people prefer to feed their dogs twice daily—in the morning and in the late afternoon around 5pm.
CBD oil or treats are an excellent way to help your dog sleep. Cannabis-based products have been proven to manage symptoms like anxiety and stress effectively and it will also treat any underlying pain like arthritis that could be keeping your dog awake. CBD oil is fast becoming the most popular remedy on the market with regards to natural treatment for a huge variety of ailments both in animals and humans. If you decide to give your dog CBD oil, then you need to ensure that you are administering the correct dosage daily and that you allow enough time for the cannabinoids to be absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream via the natural digestive process. If your dog is a fussy eater, then you might want to consider cannabis-infused treats instead. They are equally as effective and more palatable than the oil itself.
If you have ever had an argument in front of your dog, then you will know exactly what effect this can have on him. Dogs will always pick up on emotions and they are highly affected by loud noise or tension. If your dog is having trouble sleeping, then you can provide some relief by ensuring that the space they sleep in is calm and safe. You could also try adding a few drops of essential oil to their bedding to help them relax, but please do your research first as not all essential oils are safe for dogs. Their bed should be inviting and comfortable, so if your dog suffers from arthritis you could consider investing in an orthopedic dog bed to make them more comfortable—and, of course, give them lots of soothing strokes and reassurance in the lead up to bedtime.
Usually, insomnia in dogs isn’t any more serious than it is in humans. However, you should always consult your veterinarian if your dog is exhibiting any unusual behavior that could indicate something more sinister. For example, crying during the night or struggling to get up and down is a clear indication of pain and symptoms such as bedwetting, excessive panting, and constant pacing should also warrant a trip to the vet. When it comes to your pets, it is always better to be safe than sorry. So, if you are in doubt, then make sure you get a professional opinion to put your mind at rest.
Jennifer is the voice behind the FOMO Bones blog. She's pretty sure in her past life, she was a Great Dane. However, we peg her as more of a labrador. Regardless of her breed, she's a dog enthusiast who has 15 years experience training dogs and owners.