This article by Jennifer is originally published on FOMO Bones.
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. Remarkably, many of the reasons that humans suffer from insomnia apply to dogs.
Insomnia typically manifests in dogs as they age or because of a behavioral problem, such as separation anxiety or depression. 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 is something you want to address as soon as possible.
Why Does Your Dog Have Problems Sleeping?
As mentioned above, your dog’s insomnia could be triggered by many things. Understandably, if your dog isn’t well or is in pain, then it makes sense that he is having trouble sleeping. And, as your dog isn’t able to tell you what’s 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, it is likely there is an emotional issue is keeping him up at night.
If you’ve recently moved or have only just adopted your dog and brought him home, you may need to give them time to settle into their surroundings so 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 result from 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.
Implement an Exercise Routine
As dogs lead relatively simple lives, their goals are not very complex. They look forward to mealtime, 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. It’s something they will crave all day until it happens. This is exactly why implementing a daily routine can help you get your dog’s insomnia under control. If they know they will be going for a walk every morning, theoretically, any anxiety or stress related to lack of exercise should cease almost right away. If your dog is suffering from arthritis or is very elderly, you could replace physical exercise with mental exercise, like a game of seek and find or fetch.
Supplement Their Diet
Certain natural supplements can be invaluable when it comes to treating 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 meal 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.
CBD oil or treats are an excellent way to help your dog sleep. Cannabis-based products have been proven to manage anxiety and stress symptoms effectively, and it will also treat any underlying pain, such as arthritis, that could be keeping your dog awake. CBD oil is fast becoming the most popular remedy on the market regarding 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 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 effective and more palatable than the oil itself.
Provide a Calm Home Environment
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, you can provide some relief by ensuring that the space they sleep in is calm and safe. 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. Such symptoms 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, make sure you get a professional opinion to put your mind at rest.
Author bio: Jennifer is the voice behind the FOMO Bones blog. She’s pretty sure she was a Great Dane in her past life, but her team at FOMO pegs her as more of a Labrador. Regardless of her breed, she’s a dog enthusiast with 15 years’ experience training dogs and owners.