Why has my senior dog started to pant, pace, whine at night?

Posted by Dr Claire Jenkins on Oct 9, 2015 7:38:49 AM
Dr Claire Jenkins

This type of behaviour at night indicates anxiety and is unfortunately a fairly common problem in aged dogs. It’s thought that failing eyesight and hearing make these guys more disoriented in darkness or dim light.

It can also be in part due to a condition called Canine Cognitive dysfunction (brain ageing), other medical conditions or even possibly an attention seeking behaviour (a normal sleep wake cycle where they’ve learnt that whimpering gets attention).

To get the answers you need, your fur kids life needs to go under the microscope.

Have there been any changes to their routine, environment or health? Including where and when they sleep and access to toileting and water.

The following are some general suggestions that may be helpful at home when anxiety is the cause:

  • Have a night light where they sleep
  • Establish a daily routine with a crate where it is enjoyable by using feeding toys such as kongs or treats to create positive associations. Ensure they can walk in and out when they please. When they feel happy in this you can also use it at night
  • Consider babygating a room where your dog feels safe and happy, maybe with pee pads, just in case.
  • Increase daily activity and play (in a safe way depending on your dogs fitness and joint health) so that they are more tired at night
  • If its cold you could consider a jacket for warmth
  • Thundershirts (fitted shirt) as a calming solution
  • DAP- dog appeasing pheromone- this is a safe plug in device that you can out in an outlet where your pet sleeps to promote calm

A tailored program to your pets’ specific issues is ideal and medical problems need to be ruled out.

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Topics: Behaviour, dog