Our Geriatric Dog is Restless at Night

Restless Senior Dogs

Bailey will be 15 years old next week. He is due for his semi-annual checkup, but except for a pink ear, he seems fine. Just slowing down, suffering from his arthritis, having incontinence issues... The usual old guy stuff. But he is restless at night, not exactly insomnia, but enough to wake me several times, pretty much every night. It's like having an infant again and I am tired!

Bailey woke up at least 3 times last night. He walks around the room clicking away. I get up and offer to take him out and he declines. I always offer, but it would require him to go up 3 steps and down 2 flights of stairs, so I think he'd prefer to stay put in our "den"/master bedroom. He doesn't like to sleep anywhere else so he's up with us. I end up putting him back to bed and covering him up. Sometimes he stays down and sometimes he's right back up.

Why Are Old Dogs Restless at Night?

Sometimes it's just part of aging. Older people and dogs need to pee more often. That hasn't been Bailey's problem. Old dogs like Bailey who are experiencing fecal incontinence also need to poop more often. With his mobility problems it's worse because he has trouble getting up and by the time he knows he has to go and tries to get up, it's too late and he's pooped. Poop accidents and restlessness sometimes seem to go together, but dragging a sore old dog up and downstairs and outside when he doesn't want to go doesn't seem like a great idea to me so I don't do it unless Bailey wants to go.

What Should We Do?

So far, his vet has suggested halving his evening thyroid medication. Maybe a little improvement, but not a solution. I've read articles by other people suggesting homeopathic insomnia remedies, over-the-counter medications, and orthopedic beds with heat and massage features. Some people restrict the dog to another part of the house where he can't disturb other family members. Bailey is miserable when he sleeps by himself so I don't think we'll do that. Bailey has nice beds and he seems warm and comfortable so I don't think a new bed is the answer. I plan to ask the vet and will keep the readers of SeniorDogCentral informed. I don't know what to do, but in the meantime, we'll deal with it. Our beloved Bailey is worth a little less sleep.

Readers! Any suggestions?

Send a comment if you think you can help! Bailey and the rest of us will appreciate it.

38 comments:

Angie said...

I am using children's Calm Forte. It's a homeopathic remedynand it seems to help my 9 year old lab mix. I have read some advice about melatonin but haven't tried it yet. Good luck, Baily looks sweet!

krysti said...

Did your vet have any solutions? I have a 12 year old lab mix, who wanders the house panting all night. Most nights we have to give her alprazolam, just to get her to stop pacing. She also has sever arthritis so I hate hearing her going up and down the stairs. Since she has gotten older she "freaks out" when crated, so we can't crate her. Any help would be great!

Senior Dog Central (Old Dogs Rule!) said...

This is anothe one I answered and didn't post before:

...Yes, our vet recommended three very unobtrusive things that worked pretty well. Bailey calmed down some, but it wasn't a miracle cure. We used a holistic tonic called Rescue Remedy that's available at a lot of the pet stores and vets, melatonin in 3 mg tablets (regular old fashioned tablets NOT time release) and you can buy or make your own lavendar spray to use on her bedding, face and feet.

One more thing that I would suggest is keeping her crate available to her with comfy bedding inside and a quilt over it to make a sort of cave-like oasis. our dog Plat has been very comforted in his cave during storms. But we never shut him in. The door is always open so he can get in and out at will.

I hope things improve. Please let me know.

Coletta (Rhymes With Velveeta) said...

Our dog Winston strating doing this recetnly. He is 11. Wakes us up constatnly and he just wants to go outside to roll in the grass.
We live in an apartment now and have no yard of our own anymore, so we take him out to the courtyard and he lays in the grass. Thank goodness we are on the ground floor and the courtyard is only about 15 feet away..but still...we need to get sleep at night and can't continue with this.
I am going to try the childresn calmforte idea and see if it helps.
Poor Winston looks sad most of the day now and then restles at night.
When he gets a trott in his step, like he use too, it makes me smile.

Robyn said...

OMG Bailey is just like my 15yr old golden retriever! Everything you have said is what he does every night. So exhausting, can't remember when I last slept thru without him pacing all night. Just bought some Sleep Well with Melatonin from the Chemist today so am hoping this will help. Please let me know if you find anything that helps.

Jill said...

I have a 15 yo JRT mix. His troubles started when he flipped out sleeping in his crate (the same one he's had 14 years). He's not cold, gotta pee, hungry, lonely (it's near our bed). I let him sleep with us which doesn't work (I don't sleep at all) but after 2-3 hours he's up wandering, peeing, bumping into things. We tried alprazolam and it made him crazy (like a college kid drunk for the first time). He's been to the vet and except for weight loss he's fit as a fiddle. I'll try the suggestions but if anyone knows new ones I'm so desperate to give my dog a good life in his sunset :/

Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat with all the dog insomniacs. It has helped me so much to read these posts to know I and Pele (black lab named after the volcano godess) who will be 14 in Nov...we are not alone. She not only paces at nite, she pants and paces all day. The dog must be exhausted ! I am. She is on Remidyl, Lubriderm, and Dasiquil (sorry about spelling of these...too lazy to go and look at the labels)...anyway she seems so sad. I just wish I knew what to do. She has a great vet who has explained all of her issues to me but I want to help her out...will try some of the nautural remedies I have read about here.. I loved the "rolling in the grass" comment. That has happened to me too.

Melissa said...

I just want to recommend to all of the senior dog parents...try putting raw organic apple cider vinegar and organic coconut oil in your dog's food. I have a 12 year old beagle. She started leaking pee when she slept. I began putting the ACV in her food. Within a couple weeks, her incontinence was gone. Then she started limping. I began putting the coconut oil in her food. That helped, but recently I put her on glucosamine also. I'm not sure this will help with restless nights, but at least if your dog doesn't feel the need to pee at night it should help him/her sleep.

louise said...

It is reassuring to know that there are other pet owners with similar stories. Thank you for sharing. Jack is a 14 yr old lab with bad arthritis and has hobbled hocks. He pants and is restless at night, Im sure the cold is not helping either. He has previcox in the morning and tramadol in the evening. I leave the back door open for him all day - cant stand the thought of him laying on the concrete. We built a ramp for him so he doesn't have to go up and down the steps anymore. And had a brace made for his leg to help with stability. I just want him to be comfortable and not in pain, but the restlessness at night is worrying. Sometimes I rub and pat him, hoping the touch helps. Getting old hey, not much fun.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm not alone. Max my 13 year old Blue Tick is in my bed now (is 10:30pm) scratching the comfort, panting restless and keeping me awake. I usually don't let him in my bedroom because of his restless behavior, but decided to try it tonight to see if it would help him relax. Nope. Still restless. I fell so bed to lock him out, since puppy Rex is allowed, but I need to sleep! I tried a natural remedy called apawcuteraphy tranquility drops ( amazon has it) and it really helps. I ran out but will definatelly get more now that it seams to be a older dog symtom that will not improve alone and not just a stage. I'm glad I read your comments. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just a correction about the natural remedy I mentioned above - Apawthecary tranquility drops. I just ordered some from amazon only $12. A pet sitter told me about it for thunderstorm anxiety ( Max has that too, lol) oh by the way is 10:44 and he is finally snoring, lol. Trapping my whole leg and blankets under his 85 pounds. Help! :)

Anonymous said...

We started using glucosomine 3 months ago in our 12/13 year old black lab and he can continue to take our morning walk at 5:45am and even gets his "trot" back such as an earlier comment that I loved. The glu. helped him alot. But now he is panting and looking at me with need and can't be pacified when I get home at the end of a long 11 hour workday. Vet on Monday. Getting old for a pup is no picnic.

Anonymous said...

Leaving the radio on seams to relax my Max too! Maybe if you guys can leave the radio on at night really low will help your pups sleep at night. :)

Anonymous said...

acupuncture in senior dogs is becoming more of an acceptable treatment. most of the time, if they are panting, roaming, they are in some type of discomfort. Probably arthritis, especially in older dogs.

Anonymous said...

I am owned by several dachsunds - one is 16.5 yrs old. He has noy been 'right' for several months. He paces constantly, like right now, and if I put him on the sofa with me to try calm him down-he walks (falls) off the sofa! Extremely restless. He has lost a a lot of weight, 8 lbs in 5 months as he just isn't eating. He had a dental in July where quite a bit of his teeth were removed. He did not improve. He wound up getting his back molars, upper/bottom, left/ride side -totalof 4 removed due to infection. Only leaves his fangs and three scattered molars. Due to not eating he wound up in emergency hospital from this past Wednesday until today. Will see if he eats for us tonight but the thing is I think it is just part of aging, from what I am reading. He had many, tests-bloodwork, xrays, ultra sounds and other tests but they, 7-8 vets with 1 being an internalist, cannot find out why he paces or why he won't eat. I will look into the Rescue Remedy as well the melatonin for the restlessness. Worth a shot. Would appreciate suggestions for getting him to eat. If he doesn't get back to a good eating pattern we might have to euthanize him. Not something I want to do again. Painful enough when I had a dog dying from cancer. He is spunky even with all of these isues along ith his cushing's disease and grade 5 heart murmur. Thanks!

CheryllAnn said...

Good to know we're not the only ones going through this, our vet too says it's discomfort with our 13 year old Border Collie cross, she too can still have some spunk in her, but the constant getting up at night is killing us when we have to work all day and be alert, I'm taking her to the vet this Thursday as she has a sore which seems to be draining on her side which is a bit worrisome. She has been the best dog through her whole life, hate to see her suffer now.

CheryllAnn said...

It's nice to know someone else is going through this as well. Our 13 year old Border Collie cross is stiff with arthritis and the vet seems to attribute discomfort to her getting up during the night and has give us pills for pain to give her which aren't really doing anything. I will try some of your suggestions like Calm Forte and Rescue Remedy which I know is a fabulous product. She has been the best dog and I hate to see her suffer but she still does have some spunk in her and her heart still wants to go on the long walks we used to go on....

Leslie said...

It was good to read these. Our 14 year old aussie/sheltie mix Beau (and he has been our beau for many years) has spent the last two days wandering aimlessly around the inside of the house and seems happier outside, although it is pouring rain and cold. He's been having accidents inside and has lost a lot of weight. A few months ago I switched over to feeding him only rice and meat mixed with a couple of tsp. of pumpkin because he was having horrible diarrhea...interesting that this seemed to improve his arthritis and has made him more mobile, although I worry it's not enough food sometimes. I'm thinking the time has come to put him down as he just doesn't seem to be himself. He seems confused and distressed and I don't like to see him suffer.

Ashley said...

Same problem here with our older pekingese mix... I'll try the melatonin.. he walks himself thin. The doctor suggested we take him to a neurologist but that doesntseem feasible since he becomes so aggitated riding in the car .. he's such a trooper..he's a rescue dog and I want him to be comfortable

Patty W. said...

I am very relieved to read these comments and see that our 13 year old lab mix Nikki is simply showing signs of age. I have explained to friends that it is like having a newborn again - if I get 2 hours of continuous sleep, I'm grateful. She will bark to go out - I'll let her out and 5 minutes later she wants back in. She has arthritis and has lost some weight but still is in quite good health. I have changed her diet - only give her grain free kibble with chicken, beef or fish added in for extra protein (apparently the kibble has lower protein in sr dog foods, but they actually need more, but cannot process low quality protein as well ... so I buy in bulk when it is on sale and can chicken and beef to supplement the protein.) I just ordered the tranquility drops referred to a few posts above, and feel much more peaceful about what is happening ... she has been a great dog through her life, I want her to be as comfortable as possible until she leaves us.

Anonymous said...

Ellen asks.....
I have an American Boxer/Pitbull... Will be 15 in April 2014. He acts like a young happy dog during the day when we walk...trotting, scratching off in the dirt after peeing, etc., tail wagging and alert.... Then a night, he seems to have trouble relaxing. I give him two adult asprin to help with aches. I am concerned about his breathing at night...he seems to labor, or breathe really hard, or fast. He's well past his predicted life span....I don't want him to suffer...but don't want to make a hard decision to fast if he is still enjoying life. I am home with him constantly now. Any suggestions for making his nights more comfortable? He sleeps on memory foam with a pillow and comforter...( better than my bed).

MimiMassey said...

It seems that we all have a few things in common. Our Furbabes are aging, pacing, panting, etc. however, we all love them! Maggie has seizures with no known cause. After a seizure she begins to look at things through new eyes for a few days, like a puppy. Then back to the "walk abouts" as we call them. She makes the circle a dozen times, goes to the hall back to our bedroom...looks, then turns and begins again. Click click click on the hardwoods as she doesn't seem to be able to lift her back feet as well. She's happy, eats well and on meds for her heart, which assist her erratic beats. So far, she only gets up once during the night....but time will tell. Grain free, corn free is our choice of food, but am boiling chicken more and more to add healthy protein.

tinker said...

Hi everybody,

We have the same story more or less: Our 15 year old cross Border Collie / Dutch Sheepdog has gone blind and deaf quite rapidly and is now having restless panic spells at night. Panting and shaking, crawling in my bed and laying on top of my head. Won't let me sleep. It starts as soon as I doze off, whether it's at 11 PM or 4 AM. It doesn't make any difference whether I leave the lights and television on. Her twin sister who lived with other people had exactly the same half a year ago. Sadly they put her to sleep.

Now, we have a theory. See what you think...

Dogs are pack animals and see us as part of their pack. All their lives they are alert. They bark when there's someone at the door. No burglar in our home! Now when they get deaf and blind they can't do this anymore. They don't notice when someone comes in in the middle of the night. On top of this, the humans go to sleep as if there's nothing to worry about! This upsets the dog terribly and she gets a panic attack. The pack in not guarded by anyone!

Are there any people amongst you who've had the same problems whilst there was a young, healthy alert dog in the house? I seriously believe that will be the solution. You're old dog will feel the pack is safe and protected and it will be safe to go to sleep.

I look forward to y'alls thoughts!

Manja

Sarah said...

My beautiful 12 year old boy Alfie (Bull Mastiff) recently in December 2013 had a major op to remove a 5 kilo tumour from his shoulder....The surgery was a success, but in the last two weeks or so, he has started the pacing around at night, panting, shaking etc...Sometimes it will go on until 6am and then he will usually crash due to exhaustion I think. But I am awake all night also and its not a good situation. He was fine in himself before the op, so I am thinking that it could be due to the fact that he was under anesthetic for over 2 hours, but also anxiety / stress. Could it be discomfort also? God I wish they could talk. It drives you mad trying to guess what's wrong! I give him melatonin at night and rescue remedy all through the day to try and help things. Sometimes, it seems to help, but many other times it doesnt. He is much better during the day and very occasionally, I see a glimmer of the old Alfie return, but it doesnt last long. He will be back to the pacing and panting again. It is very sad to see our pups like this. It's such a comfort to know that I'm not alone. Love and best wishes to all of you x

Anonymous said...

My 12 yr old Siberian has had 5 knee surgeries in her life so I know it is discomfort. She is keeping us all up even the 1 yr old pup! I manage a vet office so we have been trying different things. Tramadol and an nsaid help. Gabapentin fixed the problem but made her unstable on her feet during the day. Now I'm trying a lower dose of gabapentin, upping the tramadol, and her thundershirt. Hopefully thus combo is the ticket. Talk to your vets about nuero drugs like gabapentin. They work miracles for some dogs.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tinker just in response to your pack mentality theory.

I have 2 dogs. One is a healthy 7 year old ALERT border collie and my older dog is a 12 year old beagle/lab mix has recently gone nearly completely deaf (at least to normal frequencies). She has started to become something of a nocturnal hunter. She constantly barking to go outside or barking in the kitchen for food. She isn't panting or pacing just being a loud nuisance. She does have cushing's disease which I believe increases her appetite.

dan said...

21 YEAR OLD lab/chow/shepherd/wolf mix. Was independent for 19 years and while extremely smart, he would scare the crap out of us when feeding time came around. All that has changed now, he is lovable, and needed with help getting around and walking from time to time. Terrific appetite and senior blood work is perfect. Heart great too. Vet amazed. Problem is he wakes up 7-8 times a night barking for me to help him to his feet. Then he "mall walks" the house for an hour falls over and I put him back to bed. An hour later all over again. Tried Everything from all natural up to 6 mg melatonin to prescribed xanax ( just made him pissed off and unable to walk) to low dose phenobarbital (occasional seizures) . We are natural mini-experts for years with herbs etc so natural tried it all. He has eaten brown rice and chicken all his life = the 21 year old thing. I have not had a full night of sleep in 7 months. I have gotten sort of use to it but it is not healthy I know. He is still a great fun dog but requires 24 hour attention. Any thoughts. Our other 6 dogs (all rescues) sleep all day until play etc. ANY THOUGHTS?

Dan and Little Bear

Anonymous said...

The last week my 12 year old retriever had been pacing panting and drinking water. I love her but I need sleep!!! She is great in rhe da vet says her heart fine. Havong geriatric tests and put her on rescue remedy but no joy yet....

Debby said...

Our 11-year-old Lab has become extremely restless at night, panting and whining constantly. Lab tests (no pun intended) all come back negative. Vet thinks it may be doggie dementia, but there are no other signs of cognitive decline so far.
Any suggestions? I am up several times every night and am very sleep deprived...

Anonymous said...

Wow! Not only do I have many of the same issues with my 15 year old jack Russell terrier female but look ay the ages of these dogs! We must be doing something right! My constant companion barks in the middle of the night and has gone completely deaf due to a vet putting something in her ears to clean them. One thing I found that works most nights is that I put a dig sweater on her for bedtime. I think it keeps her warmer and secure. Try it! She wants to sleep with me all of a sudden and its impossible.. Good for her, bad for me....shes up and down all night

Anonymous said...

Our 13+husky/shep mix started panting and pacing for hours on end at night. Took him outside at least 20 times the other night "in case...." but to no success. He has been on metacam for arthritic pain. VET took him off metacam and decided to treat for ulcer. Last night was like a miracle occurred. He slept, was peaceful and this morning acts like the old guy we love. Something to think about if your dog is on meds for pain. Luck to all.

kimberly said...

I have a 15+ year old Lab - greyhound mix who has just started showing signs of age.
The biggest problem (for her and us) is her pacing through the night. She seems to go on auto-pilot around 12:30am and won't stop moving until 3/3:30am. There is literally nothing I can do to stop her constant motion. I will almost force her down and the second I take my hands off of her she is back up with a vengeance. It's excruciating for me b/c I know her body wants to rest, but her mind wont let her. I have tried: Melatonin, Tramadol and Rescue Remedy. Nothing helps her when she is in this zone. If the drugs helped I would let her keep on for a bit, but due to the fact that I know her pacing is not a good thing, and I am literally at the end of my rope due to the 'round-the-clock' attention I am giving her, I have made an appointment for our vet to visit our home....:( I am so sad, but remind myself that 15+ years is a treat and a gift....

Anonymous said...

I am up right now with my lab/Rottweiler mix Sophie. She was wandering around, panting and whining. I stumbled upon this site. I am so grateful to the people who have posted about their dog. She just started this and I didn't know it was a thing. I may try some of the suggestions mentioned. Thanks to you all.

Anonymous said...

So glad to read these posts. We are going through the same thing with our almost 8 year old Saint Bernard, Samson. He is able to rest comfortably during the day, but at night when the sun goes down, the panting and wandering begins. We were told he has "Sundowners", which is cognitive decline in dogs similar to a human with Alzheimer's. We are trying supplementing with Choline and Inositol Caps, 250 mg twice daily, along with 9 mg of Melatonin three times daily to try to rest his chronobiological clock. It has been two weeks now, and we are still waiting to see results. If you catch the onset of Sundowners early enough, these supplements can reverse the effects. Just wanted to let others know about this. We are desperately lacking in sleep too.

Anonymous said...

Our 12 year old boxer (13 in Sept) has had 4 seizures...all during his sleep and last about 2-3 minutes. They happened over a 4 week period. Blood work is normal. He has been taking meds for his thyroid and pain meds for his arthritis for the past year. After the seizures, he was prescribed two different seizure meds which he took one at a time for about 3 weeks, with only debilitating results. He already had problems with his rear legs - weak and unable to support him...falling and unable to squat to do his business. on the seizure meds he could not function...too dizzy, panting and pacing day& night. stopped the seizure meds. He won't eat, drinks water continually, has nausea most of the time, and won't sleep much day or night. He has lost about 15 ibs between May 1 & June 15. No one is sleeping at night for more than 30-40 minutes at a time. He needs out, but just walks around, sometimes he pees, or tries to do #2' or vomits...it is too dark to see what he is doing. When he comes back in the house he is restless, panting and just stands or paces and drinks until he gets so exhausted he finally sleeps a while.

JoyceL said...

Hello and thanks for all of your comments. My almost 17-year old Basenji/Whippet mix is pacing, pacing at night. We had her on Proin for incontinence, and then Benadryl at night to help. My holistic vet said no, so we took her off Proin, and we put her on Gincko Biloba (sp?) mixed in her food, and ordered Emperor's Tea Pills from Amazon and within a week she showed improvement. Before, she would pace and pace, and snap at you if you reached for her. This anxiety has been seriously reduced, and I can love on my dog without her thinking she is under attack. Crazy. The pacing at night is still a problem, so we went back to the Benadryl - one 25 mg tab for a 25 pound dog. This works better than a 2 mg Valium, BTW. I will add the Melatonin, investigate the Calme Forte. Already using Rescue Remedy. We have her in a diaper. We take her out more often, but she's worth the extra work. She's the love of my life. Hope this helps corroborate some of the other comments. Thanks so much.

Alison said...

My 11 year old border collie, started panting and pacing at night a couple of months ago when we had a bit of a heat wave. I thought it may have been because of the heat, but he was on Glucosamine & Chondroitin with vitamin C for his stiff joints, so I stopped the tablets and he stopped the pacing. About a week ago he started to struggle getting up the stairs again so I restarted the tablets and last night he started the pacing and panting again! It might be a coincident but I'm hoping not as it's ok for him to nap during the day, but I can't in work. I'll let you know how it goes.

Daniel Macca said...

It's been helpful to read all of these comments as I realize I am not alone and others are experiencing the same things as we are. Kaya, our 11 yr. old lab, has begun pacing and panting for most of the night. Recently she has begun soiling the house and walks from room to room endlessly. It is driving me crazy and I am exhausted. Having read these comments allows for me to have more compassion. Have tried Melatonin and Kava in the evenings. The saddest part is that she isn't the same dog any more and doesn't seem that interested in interacting.

I hope there is a way for some improvement.