Behavior

Why Is My Dog Restless at Night All of a Sudden? Sleep Disruption Solutions

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Author: Jacob Kay

It’s the middle of the night, and you and your dog are sleeping out of complete tiredness. But suddenly your dog is restless, pacing, whining and constantly nudging you, making it impossible to sleep for you. This abrupt change leaves your brain questioning “Why Is My Dog Restless at Night All of a Sudden?“, racking over the place and trying to figure out your dog’s nighttime restlessness.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind your dog’s midnight distress and what is the remedy for it. It could be any pain/illness or stress from being alone all day, could be out of boredom and needing bathroom breaks.

Getting to the bottom of this issue will not only restore your pet’s sleep but your peaceful nights too. Keep reading to start getting the answers you need to say goodbye to restless nights and hello to better sleep!

Why Is My Dog Restless At Night All of A Sudden

Most Common Sleep Disorders in Dogs

Sleep disorders are uncommon in dogs overall. Your dog could also be adjusting to a whole new sleeping schedule because of any recent travelling or he has conflicts with other pets around your house.

Most Common Sleep Disorders in Dogs

If you notice any signs of sleep disorders, you should consult your veterinarian for diagnostics and a treatment plan. The best thing you can do to help get a diagnosis is to record a video of your dog when it behaves strangely while sleeping. The probable reasons for it to behave this way are as follows[1]:

Anxiety or Stress as a Cause

One of the major reasons, your dog may suddenly become restless at night is due to anxiety or stress. Dogs can show anxious behaviours at night like gasping, pacing, clinginess and frequent nudging. Identifying the stressor and using relaxation techniques can help resolve their problems with anxiety or stress.

Separating Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety become very distressed when left alone. They may stride, pant, vocalize or show other anxious behaviours at night when you’re trying to sleep.

Easing their dependence on you, using calming acids like CBD (Cannabidiol), and positive reinforcement training can help reduce their separation stress and anxiety.

Noise Phobia

Loud and unpredictable noises like thunderstorms or fireworks can create fear and anxiety in dogs. You can try creating strategies like providing distraction with toys or music, using wraps or garments that apply gentle pressure on their earlobes, or anti-anxiety medication that can help noise-phobic dogs feel more secure in the middle of the night.

Travel or Schedule Changes

If your dog’s routine is filled with constant changes like travelling frequently, skipping the walking/exercising schedule often, or bringing out guests in the home too occasionally can be disruptive and cause may cause him/her stress and anxiety.

You should always closely stick to their regular sleep and activity habits to bring them a sense of safety and normalcy.

Travel or Schedule Changes

Conflict with Other Pets

Tension or fighting between multiple pets in the home can cause them stress and anxiety. It is studied that bringing multiple pets at home raises their territorial concerns along with making them depressed for not spending much time with their owners.

Avoiding quarrelling among dogs at any time near their bedtime and resolving conflicts through proper training and management can help them get a restful sleep.

Why Is My Dog Restless at Night All of a Sudden?

We’ll explore potential medical causes of midnight restlessness in dogs. Several health-related issues could lead to your dog suddenly restless and wakeful at night when they normally sleep soundly. Finding out if an illness, pain or age-related condition is important for properly addressing the behaviour.[2]

Illness or Infection Causing Pain or Discomfort

An illness or infection can cause a sudden paining sensation, discomfort or other symptoms that could prevent your dog from sleeping well at night. Several conditions like an upset stomach, an ear infection, or a bladder infection, can disrupt their ability to get quality and uninterrupted sleep. Checking with your veterinarian can help you identify or rule out any illness that it could be suffering from.

Arthritis or Joint Pain Flaring Up

As your dog grows old, it often develops arthritis in its joints which can cause pain and achiness, particularly at night. If your dog has preexisting joint pain issues, their pain may become worse due to cold weather or overexertion from too much activity.

Dog Arthrits or Joint Pain Flaring Up

Trying supplements to ease joint discomfort, providing warm and soft bedding, or better managing their activity levels during the day can help arthritis pain at night.

Cognitive Dysfunction in Senior Dogs

Senior dogs can develop a condition called CCD (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction) or “Dog Dementia” which is similar to dementia in humans. This can cause them to become restless, paced, confused, anxious, or exhibit other behavioural changes.

Consulting your veterinarian about medication to manage this condition, making their space more comfortable, and sticking to a routine can help senior dogs with cognitive dysfunction rest better at night.

Needing Some Attention and Activity

Another potential reason that your dog may be restless at night is needing more activity, attention or enrichment. Insufficient outlets for their energy during the day or boredom could lead to pent-up energy and restlessness after dark. You should also give time to your pet, as you’re the only person it feels close to.

Rather than asking questions about “Why is my dog restless at night all of a sudden?“, help them to release their pent-up energy before bedtime. Some of the other possible reasons for your dog throwing tantrums all over your place are as follows:

Insufficient Exercise or Mental Stimulation

If your dog isn’t getting enough physical and mental exercise daily, it may cause them to have excessive energy which will leave them restless overnight. Increasing walk time and training sessions along with adding puzzle toys to the catalogue can meet their needs substantially.

Boredom and Pent-Up Energy

Lack of engaging and productive activities and under-stimulating games can cause boredom and restlessness. Try providing them with interactive toys, and changing up their environment with new smells and sights, as per their choices and needs.

Loneliness or Need for Reassurance

Your dog can be restless even when feeling insecure or lonely, especially after a change in household, or a new family member moving in together. Giving them some extra attention and reassurance helps them to feel like an important member of your family and settle down at night while sleeping peacefully.

Physical Needs Causing Wakefulness

Besides other reasons, your dog may be restless at night due to unmet physical needs that disrupt their sleep. Ensuring these needs are being handled properly before bed can allow them for an undisturbed sleep.

Physical Needs Causing Wakefulness

These things usually go hand-in-hand with mental needs but should be discussed in this context as a necessary argument. Some of the needs are given as follows:

  • Hungry – Needs a Snack Before Bedtime
    If your dog goes to bed hungry at night, their noisy tummy could wake them up. Providing a healthy snack before bedtime can help satisfy their appetite until morning.
  • Thirsty – Needs Access to Water Overnight
    Dogs may wake restless and thirsty if they don’t have access to fresh water overnight. Allowing access to water by their bed prevents dehydration and interrupted sleep.
  • Needs to Go Potty – Can’t Hold It Through the Night
    Your dog may be restless from needing to relieve themselves at night. Allowing a pre-bed bathroom break, limiting food/water before bed, or using potty training, especially before bed can help your dog to sleep peacefully through the night.

How to Get Your Dog Sleeping Peacefully Again

There are plenty of solutions available for getting your dog back to sleeping peacefully through the night after dealing with sudden restlessness. Implementing the right training and management strategies can restore a full night’s rest for your canine. Here are a few tips and tricks to solve your dog’s issues gradually:

  • Visit the Vet Rule Out Illness:
    Just questioning, “Why is my dog restless at night all of a sudden?” will not take you anywhere near the solution if you don’t start implementing certain changes to your dog’s schedule. Take your dog to the veterinarian to ensure there is no underlying illness or pain that is causing it to not take proper rest. Your vet can provide treatment or recommendations if a health issue is found.
  • Establishing Exercise, Playtime and Puzzles:
    You should give time to your dog every day. Adequate exercise and mental stimulation by playing with them, training and puzzles drains their energy and prevents them from staying up late at night.
Exercise Playtime Puzzle
  • Work on Anxiety and Stress Relief Techniques:
    Let’s see, if they are suffering from anxiety, you can work on approaches like crate training, calming aids, and giving them lots or love and affection to relieve their stress and allow restful sleep.
  • Make Sure Physical Needs are Met Before Bedtime:
    You should train them to use bathroom before going to bed, let them have a small snack, and provide them with fresh water access right before bed to reduce middle-of-the-night waking for any physical needs.
  • Stick to a Consistent Sleep Routine:
    Make sure you maintain the same calming bedtime habits like gentle walks, light stretches and brushing to signal rest time and signal them for sleep.
  • Use Calming Aids Like CBD or Supplements:
    You can use natural calming acids like CBD oil or anti-anxiety supplements which can promote relaxation at night without any serious side effects.

FAQs

Why Is My Dog Restless at Night All of a Sudden?

There are several potential reasons why your dog may suddenly become restless at night including medical problems like pain or illness, stress and anxiety, thirst or needing a bathroom break.

How can I tell if my dog’s nighttime restlessness is due to pain or illness?

Signs it may be pain or illness causing their unrest include accompanying symptoms like limping, changes in appetite or bowel movements, fever, vomiting, or lethargy. A vet exam can diagnose or rule out health conditions. The sudden onset of nighttime restlessness warrants a medical evaluation.

My dog seems anxious at night – what can I do?

If anxiety seems to be the culprit, try approaches like creating training, calming aids, exercise to reduce pent-up energy, and counterconditioning with positive reinforcement to make them feel secure at night. Determining the trigger can allow you to target the stressor.

Why does my senior dog seem disoriented and restless at night?

Senior dogs may develop cognitive dysfunction which can cause nighttime restlessness pacing, confusion and other changes. Consult your vet about medication and make their space comfortable to help them rest. Stick to a routine and meet all their needs before bed.

How can I get my dog to sleep through the night without needing a potty break?

Limit food and water intake 2-3 hours before bedtime, provide a pre-bed bathroom walk, and consider potty training refreshers. If your dog is very young or old, they may physically need a midnight emergency potty break.

Conclusion

If your dog has suddenly become too restless and disruptive at night and not falling asleep like they used to, don’t worry questioning yourself “Why is my dog restless at night all of a sudden?“. While the abrupt change can be confusing and concerning for a lot of pet owners, there are gradual steps you can take to get to the bottom of the behaviour and restore peaceful nights.

Firstly, remember to have your dog examined for medical issues by a veterinarian. If illness or pain is not a factor, then explore whether anxiety, insufficient activity, boredom, or unmet needs are the cause of this behaviour. You will require different approaches, from anxiety-relief techniques and calming acids to increased daily walks and exercises, mental stimulation, or scheduling adjustments.

Have patience with your dog, be consistent with the new routine, and observe what affects the habits of your pet. As you work to identify triggers, you will eventually find the right remedies towards them. You’ll notice with the right training, management and lifestyle changes based on your identified cause, you can resolve their issues and help them sleep calmly again.

You should also keep track of improving your sleep habits as human and canine bedtime troubles often go hand-in-hand. Once you support your dog’s needs and prioritize its sleep first, you will see that your dog happily snoozing by your side once again.

References:

  1. 4 Most Common Sleep Disorders in Dogs | petMD
  2. My Dog is Twitching While Sleeping: Should I Worry? | Hill’s Pet Nutrition
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About
Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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