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Avatar universal

Old Dog won't Sleep at Night

My 18 year old cockapoo won't sleep at night.  He sleeps during the day when we are not home and during the night he is restless.  He is up every hour seeking activity and pees on the floor when he doesn't find any.  This is making his us crazy as his activity is keeping us awake.  Having him sleep in another room or outside is not an option as he has extreme seperation anxiety.  We've tried many options to make him not be so restless including taking him for walks at night to tire him out, giving him natural pet medications to relax him,  giving him up to 50mg of Benedryl (he's only 14lbs) and as far as having the vet prescribe a low dose of acepromazine to help sedate him at night and NOTHING works.  He countinues to be up at night pacing the house.  Please help, I'm beginning to lose my sanity due to lack of sleep.  
35 Responses
82861 tn?1333457511
It's pretty obvious: your dog needs some exercise. Yes, even a senior dog needs a bit of exercise.  Try a short walk in the evening, or even a couple of short ball-chasing sessions - whatever activity your dog can do safely.  Dogs NEED to get out of the house and move - not just for physical health, but for their mental health as well.  Don't forget: A tired dog is a good dog.  :-)
Avatar universal
What a useless response to that woman's question.  Within her question she says clearly that she has been giving the dog exercise.  Why even respond if you aren't going to read the question.   I have the same problem with my 10 year old golden and we take him on very VERY LONG walk/jogs every night before bed as well as 2-3 times a day.   Yet, he won't sleep at night.   Does anyone have a "real" response?
675347 tn?1365464245
Perhaps what Jaybay was focussing on was the dog was shut up alone in the house all day, and needed more exercise than he was given (a walk at night) ? But that would be strange for an 18 year old dog....It's a very good sign if an 18 year old dog has boundless energy like that (my dog is 12 and I can't give her ENOUGH exercise during the day! I'm glad she's so fit for her age, but it's still 2 -2hour walks for me! I know if she was shut up all day she would go bananas!) But with the dog mentioned here I wouldn't be surprised if there was an element of dementia (yes, dogs can and do get that just like Humans)

However, I think there's another thing going on with your dog. At 10, and with the good level of exercise he's getting, there is something strangely 'hyper' going on for him not to be able to sleep ok at night. Whether he is considered old enough to develop dementia symptoms I don't know. But this would definitely be something to mention to your vet.
I met a woman with an older dog, on a walk last year. Her dog had developed similar symptoms, he had mild dementia, he was prescribed a medicine which had good effects. He looked good, was happy on his walk, looked very well.

If you are interested in trying alternative medicine, you could perhaps try a Homeopathic remedy first, to see if it helps. (Quoted from "Homeopathy for Pets", by George MacLeod
          "...For insomnia in older animals....ARSEN. ALB. Potency: 6c.(dosage 2 tablets, crushed between two spoons. Do not handle the tablets, let the dog lick them from the spoon.) ....Dosage in acute conditions may necessitate frequent repetition of the remedy, eg. one dose every hour for three or four doses. Less frequent repetition is related to less acute conditions, eg. one per day, or one night and morning for a few days. For more serious conditions, it is strongly recommended that a qualified Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeon is consulted......"

Avatar universal
My 10yr old was having similar problems sleeping at night, turns out it was early signs of stones developing in bladder and then required a cystotomy, so it wouldn't hurt to have pet checked out by vet
Avatar universal
Restlessness at night is a sign of doggy dementia as is barking or wakefulness at the wrong hours of the day. I have a 16 year Bichon that is experiencing these symptoms. Other symptoms of dementia (also called Canine Cognitive Disorder) is getting "trapped" in furniture or just standing confusedly in corners of the room, not understanding how to navigate around an open door, sometimes soiling/peeing indoors when they were once house-trained, etc. There are some drugs you can try. One is called L-Deprinyl. My vet tried it on his 15 year old dog and he said it helped give him clarity for a while. You can also try supplementing Omega-3 and Vitamin-B12. You should consult a vet (western or holistic) before attempting to dose your dog as their size, weight, etc. will matter in the amount. You can also try acupuncture. I also just revert to keeping him awake during the day by taking him out for frequent walks, feeding him, playing with him, etc. and then at night establishing a routine that leads to sleep and saying firmly, "SLEEP" to him. That has worked for us without much meds though we do the acupuncture once a month. I can usually get him to bed by 1-2AM and once asleep, he sleeps most of the night, sometimes only waking once or twice in which case, I take him out to pee and then put him back in bed with same "SLEEP" command, pushing him back down when he gets up until he falls whines himself to sleep. Good luck to everyone who is nurturing a senior dog. It definitely has its challenges but I always think back on what a devoted little life he has given me for the last 16 years and it helps put things in perspective in his sunset time.
974371 tn?1424656729
I went through something similar with my aunt's dog I brought home to live with us after my aunt passed.  I definitely believe they can and do suffer from dementia.  She had always slept on the bed but, as she got older, she would get restless, jump off the bed, want back up, paced, etc.  Yes, lost a lot of sleep.  I finally put her bed, with a blanket in it, under my dressing table and she settled down and slept there.  My aunt also went through this scenario with one of her Scotties and the dog would get up and pee everywhere.  I assume the dog sleeps in your room?  Does it just have a bed or use a crate?  You probably don't have one but I find ex-pens come in handy.  You could try putting an ex-pen around the dog's sleeping are to keep it contained, preferably in your room.  Put a small blanket or towel in the bed. Often, dogs love to *nest*.  You might try leaving a night light on near the dog's bed or put a radio near the sleeping area and put on very low so it doesn't disturb you.  I'm surprised the ACE didn't work. You might try asking your Vet about trying some Melatonin and have him/her recommend the dose.  Perhaps a low dose of Valium.  Is he on any other meds like maybe Pred? Some of those meds can cause nervousness and irritability.  Also, I would try to feed dinner no later then 6:00 PM and try to limit water intake before bed time.
So hard taking care of the old ones sometimes and knowing what they want or need.
Good luck. Hope you can get some sleep!
Avatar universal
I'm doing research as I M having similar issues with a Lhasa mix who's age is unknown tho we guess about 15.  He's on 2 mg of Melatonin, 5 mg of Valium every night - omega 3 fish oil as well as his 3 week of Anapril for dimentia.  My dog doesn't get much exercise - he's mostly blind and mostly def so it's a good 20 min walk to the end of the sidewalk!   I'm about at my wits end.  I do rescue and have my others in training classes - so I try to sty informed and do what's best.  He's 30 kbs and can't get through the doggie door on his own - so he barks to be carried in and out our back door - steps.  He won't use a ramp and I have constant pain now in my shoulder and neck from picking him up so many times ...   The Valium and melatonin work for about 4 hours - he is wide awake barking to go outside at 3 am- then he will settle for about 30 mon and start barking again.   I've tried a crate, special sleep spot and putting him on my bed.   The ONLY thing working right now is if I give him a little food then  move to the couch and have him lay on the couch w me.  But this is at 4 or 5 am wvery night.   We know hw has a tumor on his liver which was randomly discovered they an X-ray for another reason.  He doesn't seem to be in pain - and is fine and content all others times - but from 3-7 am it is just awful and I don't know what to do.  They said the anapril may take 30 days and we are in Weeek 3-praying this makes a difference.  Sigh
Avatar universal
My apologies for the type o's - on my phone
675347 tn?1365464245
I do certainly understand how difficult this must be for you. Incredibly difficult, as we can handle things ok if we get our sleep, but things become impossible if we are sleep-deprived. I understand from a personal point of view, as the last year or so of my mother's life were like this. She was suffering from dementia which got worse with every passing day, and seemed to have no concept of bedtime, or getting-up time, and no awareness of other peoples' needs. She was sweet and gentle, but would shout out in the night to go to the bathroom, or something. It was very very hard, particularly on my brother who did the largest portion of the caring duties.

If your dog seems fine at all other times, and it's just during the night he is restless, then I wonder -is it the quietness at night which might bother him or make him anxious? Does he sleep any hours during the day? If he does, I wonder if it might make a difference if you were to ration his daytime sleep (I know it sounds a litte cruel) if you can, so that he would be more ready to fall asleep and hopefully stay asleep longer at night (after his medication and a little food perhaps)? If you ended up getting 6-7 hours sleep a night it would make a great difference.
It sometimes used to work ok with my mother, if we managed to keep her distracted so she wouldn't nap in the day (hard work but worth it!) she would then stay asleep longer at night without getting up or shouting out.

Do you take him out to pee very last thing before bed? Wanting to pee could possibly be disturbing his sleep?
Some drugs can cause diuresis (peeing more) as a side effect, but I just looked up Anipryl, and it doesn't say ths, but it does say that it CAN cause restlessness or hyperactivity sometimes in the early stages of treatment.

I'm surprised the Valium doesn't knock him out! I'm wondering if perhaps the vet is using a very conservative dose, wanting to see what happens with a certain dosage, etc, and it may be that he needs a higher dosage? I do think maybe you should run all these problems past your vet, and see what he suggests. You may be able to get to speak to the vet by phone rather than make an appointment. It wouldn't cost anything to do that.
675347 tn?1365464245
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5040494 tn?1362706829
I also has the same problems with my yellow labrador puppy, he doesn't sleep at night, only if I scoot down near  his sleeping area and wait for 30 min. for him to sleep. After an hour he's awake again and super active, that he wakes me up to play. He also prefers to sleep in the morning for awful long hours I guess 5 hours or so. And even if you wake him up or try to play with him, he won't budge and just keep on sleeping. He also has a very small appetite. Please tell me what to do?
Avatar universal
Yesterday i had to put our 15.5 yr old cockapoo down.   He had severe cognitive disorder with non stop pacing and confusion.  He was deaf for a few years now and was wetting on the floor.  we put a diaper wrap on him which worked wonderfully.   That controlled the urine until he began to poop - whenever it came upon him around the house.  His life ended with severe diareah (yellow mustard). Therefore , i believe he had liver failure possibly mistaken for cognitive disorder.  His urine smelled skunk like with a brown tint.  the Standard (Bloodwork at the vet did not show any disorder...  ) So in addition to the cognitive disorder i wish had paid  attention to changing his diet to counter  the possible liver disorder.  He was in awesome physical shape, yet his mental state was bazaar along with very black eyes.   When ammonia toxins peak in the dogs body the behavior is similar to the cognitive disorder.   So it's worth  monitoring both conditions....as certain foods should have been avoided with any liver disorder.
Avatar universal
I have a 19 year old chow/malmute/husky/samoyed mixed female that Is blind, deaf, decrepit, incontinant, and poops in the house.  I have found solutions for all of the above problems.  That isn't what drives me nuts.  She just won't settle down at night.  She gets me or my husband up nearly every hour of the night.  It starts around 11 at night and stops around 7 in the morning.  We put her out in a fenced yard in the daytime so she can cool down since the house is too hot for her and get some walking in (she paces in circles if she can get up).  
  Why is she awake at night and asleep in the day?  Seems totally backward and goes against all good common sense.
Avatar universal
I have a 15 year old Staffy who hasn't really had any medical conditions in her life, except the odd minor skin issue.  She sleeps in her bed in our bedroom and has always been difficult to wake in a morning, largely due to being quite deaf.  She could sleep for 12 hours without moving.  About two weeks ago she woke up suddenly at about 2 o'clock in the morning and woke me up trying to climb on our bed, as soon as she was on, she wanted to get off, then straight back on and this went on all night.  I can see from some of the above posts above that others have experienced the same, except my dog is trembling and wants to lie practically on top of me panting directly in to my face making it impossible to sleep.  We have a fan blowing all night with the windows open, i've felt her inner ears and her body temperature is normal but she pants non stop. I know trembling would usually be a sign that she is in pain, however as soon as we get up for work, all this behaviour stops immediately.  She is still begging for food, is still very keen to go on her walks and can't wait to get to my mothers where she spends the days playing with her 3 yr old jack russell, chasing balls etc.  Absolutely no panting or trembling.  She is totally fine at home until she wakes up in the middle of the night and round we go again.  She isn't showing any signs of dementia described above, no confusion or strange behaviour at all at any other time of the day.  We've had over 15 dogs over the course of my life, all have made 14 minimum and we have experienced most old age issues but this is completely new to us.  Our vet has prescribed medication to aid her breathing, combat any infections, ease any pain but nothing has changed.  I'd appreciate any insight at all.  Thank you.
Avatar universal
My 12 year old Kerry was having same issues and I discovered he was having issues with pancreas from too much fat in diet.   Put him on low fat diet and within a week he calmed down and is sleeping through the night.  Pacreas was in pain and the more fat he ate, the more pain he was dealing with which caused him to pace attempting to get me to figure it out.  Now we all sleep peacefully.   Find dog food with 10% fat or less.
6745866 tn?1399755038
I just took my 12 year old to the vet and he couldn't find any health reasons why my dog would be doing the same as most of your dogs stated above ^(Not sleeping from 2-7Am).
Charlie (my dog)doesn't seem too interesting in fun activities.. You probably think I'm full of it, but it's true. He likes walks just so he can pee on everything, so that's no problem. He doesn't play with other dogs(Like no desire too at all, even when he was little. But he did like to hang with the Pitbulls)
I could buy the funnest awesomest toy in the world and after 5 minutes of throwing it and chasing it, he's done.... He wants to chew the eyes or ears off then that's it ...
He naps during the day and I'm sure if he had it his way he'd sleep the whole day away. (I've posted a sort of more detailed question on my page thing . If you have time to answer it. I would be so greatful)
I've been farting around with his food . Went from Pedegree, Iams which is what he has now(He really likes the meaty pieces..Easier to chew) Senior balance food, Blue buffalo, and Acana. This has been in the last year not just recently.
He also gets canned  dog food sometimes(not regularly).
I asked my vet about anything and though he did mention dimentia He said he will not give me anything. and to bring him back in a couple of weeks if it consists..
Well I'm pretty sure something is wrong it's been 6-8 months now. and my dog wont sleep.
I believe  that has made his heart  murmer worse. I don't know what to do and what (meds) he can be on now that he has early stages of heart failure.
Now I do realize that this blurb makes no sense.  I just had to write something and this comment thread is the longest and most helpful I have found as of yet. I'm lost ...If my vet doesn't know what to say to me , I don't know how I can help my dog.
Avatar universal
I would recommend everyone have their dogs tested for Cushing's Disease.  This is something that can cause 'accident's in the house and other behaviours in older dogs.  For those of you who have vets who seem uncooperative, SEEK OUT ANOTHER VET.  Do not try to play 'doctor' yourself.  If the new vet is just as unhelpful, find another until you find the one that truly cares.

Also, many, many older dogs suffer from arthritis, and laying on the floor is a way to get pain relief.  Again, do not give your dog things you think would help.  Medications are specifically formulated for humans or animals.  Don't resort to things from your own medicine cabinet.  You may be doing more harm than good.
Avatar universal
My 16 year old dog is hard of hearing, blind, can no longer walk and is currently being fed by hand as he can do very little for himself now. He also wakes a lot in the night and is very unsettled between 9pm -1am. We have been sleep deprived for 2 years having to find out whether he needs toilet/food/water or just made comfortable. I bathed and blow dried him last night before our bed time at 9pm and for the 1st time in ages he slept until 1am and only had 2 toilet wakes during the night. I may try doing the same again tonight to see if this settles him, so I wondered if this may work for your cockapoo?
Avatar universal
I have a 17 year old female maltese. she is blind and deaf my problem is she wont sleep through the nite my vet told me to give her melatonin 5mg that hasn't worked . what is the difference between melatonin mg and mcg?
Avatar universal
My 15+ year old chihuahua mix, bless her aging soul, has started being VERY restless at night--up and down, up and down. The first time was two nights ago and I was hoping it was just a phase (the moon, the alignment of the planets, something!) but last night the same thing. I give her tramadol for eye pain (this isn't new) and also Benadryl. Both used to help her sleep. Not now. I'm going to try her crate tonight. And yes, she has the backyard to pace in all day long, and we take short walks--she can't walk as far as before unless I had 4 hours to spare. I started thinking it was another stage of her dementia and it sure sounds like it from what I've read here. Thanks for all the posts!
Avatar universal
That's what I think is going on with my Bichon. She is 13.

I'm so glad to have seen your post.

She is making my parents crazy.

I'm willing to have them try anything.

Thank you!!

Avatar universal
It helps to read about other people experiencing this issue with their old dog. We love our 16 year old Dalmatian Pointer mix dearly and are desperately sleep deprived. She is almost deaf and almost blind and has some dementia. She cries and wakes us every night at 12 am to pee, at 2 am to pee, at 4 am to play, at 4:30 for no apparent reason, when we take her outside nothing happens. She just walks around, back and fourth in the yard. At 6 am she wants to fo for a walk....If we put her back in her bed too soon she will just cry again right away.....of course she can sleep all day, we have to go to work.  
She goes on a 90 minute walk each morning and I tried taking her on another longer walk at 10pm and again at 2 am. That helps her to fall asleep more easily but she still wakes us up on schedule about 2 hours later.
I tried sleeping in her pen with her and her sleeping in bed with me but that doesn't help her at all.
I tried lavender and camomile, calming essential oils, in her pen but it didn't really make difference.
She sleeps well during the day.
Avatar universal
Hello there, I can totally sympathise with you as my 11 year old Dalmatian has most of the same problems.  She was diagnosed with a heart murmur at age 3 and there were no problems until April this year when she started panting constantly.  The vet x rayed her and she was diagnosed with water on the lungs,  pneumonia and her heart was extremely enlarged.  She was given heart meds, water tablets and tramadol and she hasn't slept at night for 69 days!! We are just so, so tired of this. I, too wonder if she is suffering from some sort of dementia. She paces all night, digs up the carpet-like she's burying a bone, wants out into the garden and once out there immediately wants back in. She's leaking urine all over the place and when she drinks water-she pukes it all back out.
If there is someone who can help, please, please help us.
Thanks, Pam
15633739 tn?1441886517
Hi Pam, I thought i would let you know what we are doing with our old Jack Russell Mr Grub who is almost 18 and I am lucky enough to be his full time carer! but even we need sleep! Ok so this is what i have noticed during the journey of looking after him in his old years. If I deviate of this plan he acts like he is in pain, pants, runs into things, wakes up every few hours etc....  I feed him boiled lovely leg chicken (without skin so not too fatty and NO bones) with a little bit of sweet potato mashed up in a mortar and pestle. I feed him every 4 hours (sounds like a newborn hey!) and in the mornings when i am tired and want to go back to sleep i will feed him one gluten free biscuit (human food) and he will go back off to sleep. The Vet reckons that Grubby has a some kidney issues as he drinks a lot (and hence needs to pee a lot...sigh!)  I have organised two spaces that are flat one in the house and one out (small and safe) and he basically lives between the two of them. He will sleep around 4 to 6 hours but i find it is mostly 5 hours. He hates to wee or poo in the house so i have to take him into his little flat garden for this. If I feed him any red meat at all he will have an overload of ammonia and without fail he will act like he has dementia and our house hold become sleep deprived and anxious wondering what is wrong with him. So I try not to deviate off the food plan and am rewarded with a calm drug free dog.....and this is definitely worth the effort.
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