Why Is My Ageing Dog So Restless at Night?

Why Is My Ageing Dog So Restless at Night?

Older dogs can experience behavioural changes as they get older, and it’s not too uncommon for them to be affected by restlessness, especially at night. Like many of the issues that affect dogs as they age, this is not just an inevitable side effect of getting older and can be a sign that something is not right with your dog’s health.

Why Does It Happen?

There could potentially be a number of factors that may cause an older dog to start getting restless and pacing around at night. These can include:

Pain. To begin with, your vet will want to check that there are no underlying medical conditions that are causing your dog to experience pain and discomfort and which may be encouraging them to be restless during the night. Arthritis, cancer and urinary tract infections are just a few of the issues that could potentially be behind your dog’s behaviour.

Anxiety. If your dog is anxious and stressed, this can cause them to pace up and down repeatedly. Even situations that previously caused no anxiety at all can be a major source of stress as dogs get older.

Needing to urinate and/or defecate more frequently during the night. Bladder and bowel function can decline as your pet gets older and this can mean that they need to urinate or defecate more than before. As with older people, this can disrupt their sleep patterns and can ultimately lead to restlessness during the night. In addition to this, pain and mobility issues can add to the problem and hinder or prevent efforts to eliminate in the correct place(s), leading to inappropriate urination and/or defecation situations.

Sensory changes. As your dog ages, their vision and hearing can change. This can affect how well they are able to sleep and how deep this slumber is.

Neurological conditions. If there is no medical cause for your dog’s restlessness and the situation has only started happening since your dog has got older, it is likely that the diagnosis will be based on cognitive dysfunction. This occurs when the brain no longer functions as effectively as it did before and is not too dissimilar to Alzheimer’s Disease in humans.

Can It Be Treated?

Any changes to your dog’s typical behaviour should be discussed with your vet, and not just mistaken for “natural” signs of ageing.

If your dog has an underlying medical condition that is the main culprit for their behaviour, the initial focus will be on treating this. This includes anxiety and cognitive dysfunction, which can both potentially be tackled through medication. With treatment, cognitive dysfunction can be slowed down in terms of its progress and your pet’s quality of life can be maintained for longer. Some medications can also be prescribed to improve blood flow to the brain, for example. In conjunction with changes to their diet, this can be beneficial in helping your dog to be comfortable for longer.