Just like humans, as dogs get older they can go through behavioural changes as they age, and this is regularly seen to affect them in the form of restlessness, particularly during the night when they’re supposed to be sleeping.

Your pooch is part of the family, and just as you would want your child to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep, you want your doggy to enjoy some sound slumber as well.  

We’re going to look at some of the main factors that contribute to sleep disturbances for dogs that tend to arise when they start to get on a bit.

Feelings of anxiousness

Should your dog be experiencing increased feelings of anxiety and heightened stress in their lives, it can affect them when it comes to sleeping at night-time, just as it can do in humans.

Dogs will usually display this by pacing up and down repetitively. This can also be the case for situations that never used to be an issue for them in the past, but as things change, something can lead to your four-legged friend now finding themselves feeling worked up, meaning they lose sleep each evening.

Feeling pain

Pain can be prevalent in dogs who have underlying medical conditions which can result in your dog having added discomfort, and all of these things are known to result in sleepless, restless nights. Ailments such as cancer, arthritis, and urinary tract infections to name a few, are just some of the long list of issues that might well lead to your pooch having altered behaviour during the day and night.

Requiring more frequent trips to the toilet during the night

Some of you will know the feeling of having to make increased trips to the loo at night, and this is all part of getting older, but bladder and bowel function is something that is trickier for dogs because they have to go outside to do their business, requiring you to get up and open the door for them, unless they have a flap.

Declining function in this department as your pet gets older means that more frequent visits to relieve themselves is common ground, and this has can knock their sleep pattern off sync, resulting in constant restless nights.

What’s more, the afflictions often incorporate pain and mobility issues and this only serves to make your dog’s problems more complicated and hamper their attempts to go to the toilet in a place they recognise as the correct place. This can be embarrassing for them, as the Pet Health Network confirms a study that dogs, do, in fact, feel this emotion.

Alterations around senses

With four-legged friends racking up the years, their senses begin to wear down; their vision and hearing are typically the senses that are most affected. The upshot of this is that it can impact on how the quality and quantity of sleep they have in their lives.

Loss of senses can cause confusion, which is unsettling for your pooch. If they find themselves flustering at night, then sleep is always going to take a hit.

Cognitive changes

If no medical causes are at the root of your dog sleeping insufficiently, and there hasn’t been an issue in the past, then neurological conditions could well be the reason why your furry friend isn’t getting the correct kind of sleep at night.

This happens because their brain is at a point whereby it no longer functions at the effective level that it had done previously. This can be likened to the degenerative Alzheimer’s Disease seen in humans.

What about treatment?

So, you’ve read a handful of the reasons why your pet could be losing sleep at night, but before you get too disheartened, don’t forget to bear in mind that there is treatment for some of the ailments that they may eventually have.

It’s important to keep a bit more of a close eye on any changes to your dog’s standard day-to-day behaviour and if anything alters, pay a visit to your vet to discuss this. Sometimes people will just tie it to natural signs of aging, but it could well be something else underlying that is causing it.

Why does your canine sleep so much? Well, it’s highly probable that they are tired more because they’re getting older and as animals age, they rest more with the slowing down of their functions and major organs. This is what we usually see with age, so if you’re noticing them sleeping less and less then it’s another sign to speak to your vet.

With treatment and medication, anxiety can be relieved, pain can be eased, toilet habits can be better controlled, cognitive dysfunction can be slowed down in terms of its progress and your pet’s quality of life can be sustained for extended periods.

Some changes to their diet can also be beneficial in aiding your dog’s comfort too. Ultimately, you should remember that dogs get old and they need your patience, support and understanding to help them feel at ease as they go through these changes.


About the Author: Hi there, my name’s Sarah. Just like your furry friends, I love to sleep. I can’t get enough of it. I love a good night’s rest so much that I kinda turned it into my day job. I now spend my waking hours researching and writing about all things slumber related for the Sleep Advisor. My colleagues and I firmly believe a good night’s sleep is the secret to a happy, healthy and more fulfilling life. For you and your pet.