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What to do if your senior dog keeps waking up in the middle of the night.

It was 1:30am, approximately 2 hours after we had gone to bed and Frodo my little westie was up and trying to jump off the bed again. Thankfully I felt him get up and was able to reach him just in time to catch him before he made the large leap from my bed to the floor. Lately, he never wanted to use the ramp I had gotten him. Not to mention this was the 3rd time this week he had gotten up at this time….

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

There are many signs of doggy dementia but one of the big ones that a lot of senior dog owners talk about first is a change in the nighttime routine. For me, that was Frodo waking up and pacing at night. The pacing would get worse. So what do you do if you notice a change in your senior dog’s nighttime routine?

This week in the podcast, I cover this topic in depth so to really get the scoop on this topic, take a listen but in the meantime here are a few things that have helped my clients and my own 2 senior dogs who did this.

  1. Bring your pet to the vet. The first thing you want to do is rule out a medical issue. There are so many things that can cause restlessness in a dog at night including things like chronic pain (joint disease, teeth, cancer, etc.), an upset stomach, and more and you’ll need a vet you trust to help you rule these things out.

  2. Be consistent with routines. Routines are really important to our dogs in general, but with CCD it is NECESSARY to keep a consistent routine day in and day out to help your senior pet. Their ‘time clock’ is often off giving them a sense of timelessness and causing them to wander and pace a bit more. Getting them out for their daily walks and exercise, keeping routines at home such as potty and training times consistent is a critical step for them.

  3. Create a ‘cozy’ zone: we created something called a ‘cozy zone’ which was a little habitat next to our bed that was big enough to allow them to ‘pace’ comfortably when they wake up at night. We transitioned our senior dog slowly from the bed to this area over a few weeks and provided him with everything he could need there. It contained bedding, food, water, and pee pads. We found that in combination with the next tip, this safe, ‘zone’ for our senior dog was really helpful.

  4. Night-time Meds: Ask your vet if nighttime medication could help your senior dog. Once your vet has helped rule out other illnesses, there are some medications they may be able to prescribe to help your pet sleep better at night. For Frodo, I started him with melatonin, and then when that stopped working, I added a second medication to help him. (Note: don’t start your dog on melatonin without consulting a vet). We also used a combination of doggy appeasement pheromones, one of my shirts down there with him, a daily supplement for senility to help support him overall.

I find that often a combination of small changes and tweaks can help our senior dogs with this disease. Helping our older dogs with signs of cognitive decline is so important in helping them live their best life. I hope some of those tips are helpful and insightful for anyone going through this now.


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