The last thing we need after a long, stressful day is to be woken up in the middle of the night by our dog. He may have a perfectly good dog-reason for waking us up, but broken sleep can leave us cranky in the morning and unproductive at work. In the meantime, your dog is at home snoozing the day away.
Dogs wake us to warn of impending danger. But your dog's definition of danger could be the sound of a neighbor at the end of the block rolling his trash bin out to the street. Remember, dogs can hear far better than we can. Even though it seems quiet for us, in your dog's world there's still a lot going on when you turn off the lights.
If you have a small dog, he may wake you as he tunnels under your covers during the night. Then, if he gets too warm, he may wake you tunneling out. Once may be forgivable, even cute. More than that, and it's time to find a solution.
Natural sleeping pills for dogs
Natural sleep aids for dogs may help your dog relax and sleep through the night so you can as well. They include Calms Forté, melatonin, Rescue Remedy, and hemp oil. All of these are available at most pet stores and online.
Calms Forté is a homeopathic remedy. It comes in pill or liquid form. You can hide the pill in something yummy (liverwurst works well). A few drops of the liquid can be put on your dog's food.
Melatonin is a hormone that both humans and dogs produce naturally. Melatonin for pets has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but it's been used safely by humans for a long time. It's said to be helpful for dogs' phobias, anxiousness, and sleeplessness. It comes in pills, drops, and flavored chews.
Florals and hemp oil
Another couple of natural remedies that might help your dog sleep at night are Rescue Remedy and hemp oil. Rescue Remedy is derived from five different floral essences. It's said to help with anxiety in dogs that are fearful, particularly those that have a fear of thunder and fireworks. It comes in liquid form only.
Hemp is not the same as marijuana. It has no psychotropic properties. Hemp products can be legally purchased in all 50 states. Hemp oil for dogs comes in three forms: liquids, powders, and chews.
Sleeping medicine for dogs
A variety of over-the-counter drugs can also help a dog sleep. Benadryl is probably the most common. However, unlike natural remedies, Benadryl is not something you want to use on an ongoing basis. It can have serious side effects like seizures and high blood pressure.
Benadryl is an antihistamine. It's for allergies and itches. It just happens to cause lethargy and sleepiness. It can be a good solution for extreme but short-lived anxiety on the Fourth of July or during thunderstorms.
For chronic anxiety, your vet may prescribe generic fluoxetine (the brand name is Prozac). An antidepressant for humans, fluoxetine is prescribed for dogs to treat anxiety, aggression, compulsive behaviors, and phobias. But anxiety is the most common reason vets prescribe it.
Practical non-medical solutions
Most dogs take their role as the household security guard very seriously. Eliminate as much noise as you can. What you can't eliminate you might be able to move to the background with white noise or soothing music.
Try giving your dog her own soft, squishy blanket to nest in. They love those faux Sherpa throws from the local big box store.
If you have a small dog, get her a "cave bed." Also called igloo beds, these soft fabric beds have sides and tops so your dog can walk in and curl up. If you put it at the foot of your bed, it might help with the nocturnal burrowing under your covers.
Solutions that won’t break the bank
The nice thing about all of these remedies, medications, and accommodations is that they're affordable. If one doesn't work, you can try another. However, with the remedies and medications, it' a good idea to check with your vet first, especially if your dog is already on medication.
Just because the remedy is "all natural," or the medication is OTC, doesn't mean they're without side effects. Any treatment your dog ingests could interact with something else that's already in his system.
- American Kennel Club.org: Benadryl for Dogs
- American Kennel Club.org: Melatonin for Dogs: Uses, Benefits and Dosage
- Bachflower.com: Rescue Remedy Pets
- National Conference of State Legislatures: State Industrial Hemp Statutes
- U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.gov: The use of fluoxetine by veterinarians in dogs and cats: a preliminary survey