As dogs age, they can start to have difficulty sleeping throughout the entire night. There are many different psychological and physical causes which can contribute to this.
Things that can contribute to insomnia are canine cognitive dysfunction, pain or discomfort, decreased bladder control causing increased urge to eliminate, undiagnosed medical conditions, anxiety and sensory changes (eyesight or hearing loss) which can affect depth of sleep.
Your dog can have one or a combination of these conditions which makes it more challenging to maintain sleep. Depending on what underlying cause(s), certain interventions can be made to help alleviate the symptom of insomnia.
There is usually always an underlying cause, and so it is essential to be able to identify what that is and implement an appropriate treatment whether that be medication, supplements, diet change, behavioural therapy or a combination of these. If you are finding that your dog is suffering from insomnia, a good idea would be to start a log of how frequently this is occurring, what time of day your dog is unable to sleep and their associated behaviours (are they panting, pacing, barking etc.). This information will be helpful when trying to investigate the cause of insomnia. This history along with a thorough physical examination and ideally blood work can help us to develop a treatment plan so that you and your canine companion can get back to solid nights of sleep.
Written by Dr. Megan Haines, DVM