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Is Your Dog Suddenly Anxious at Night

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You may have realized that when you have a late-night, your dog migrates towards their own bed at the same usual time, this is because dogs thrive upon routine.

Any adjustment to their routine of walk time, feeding time, playtime, and bedtime can disrupt your dog’s behavior. It doesn’t make a big change to your dog’s normal schedule to make them become anxious.

Traveling, going away, or entertaining unusual guests are major disruptions to your dog’s routine. Thunderstorms, parties, and other loud noises can have a huge effect on your dog.

Stress and anxiety can build up throughout the day and this may reach a pinnacle at night time when you try to get your dog to settle to sleep.

Signs of canine anxiety

There are a number of tale signs that anxiety is affecting your dog. You need to monitor your pet closely for these changes in behavior as your dog cannot easily communicate this feeling of stress or being anxious to you.

Canine anxiety can snowball quickly so it is important to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. You should always seek out the professional advice of your vet when you notice any of the following signs of anxiety.

  • Inappropriate or excessive urination
  • Self-harm
  • Excessive licking or chewing
  • Negative body language signs such as shivering
  • Excessive barking or howling
  • Running away, escaping, or hiding
  • Lack of appetite
  • General irritability
  • Difficulty in settling particularly at night
  • Insomnia - not able to sleep

Dog health and anxiety

Not only down to routine changes stress at night can also be linked to your dog's health. If your dog becomes anxious at night it may also be the result of underlying medical conditions.

As a dog ages, an older dog may start suffering from doggy dementia, known as CDS cognitive dysfunction syndrome. The confusion and disorientation that comes about with CDS can cause your dog to become very anxious at night.

Other medical conditions can also have a negative effect. Arthritic or structural ailments can make dogs uncomfortable and therefore make it harder for them to settle, causing stress.

Also failing senses of sight or hearing can put your dog on edge at night. Noise phobia can also be heightened during the night when it is dark and visibility is restricted.

Because anxiety can stem from underlying issues, illnesses and conditions it is of imperative importance that you visit your vet. Your vet may in the event that there are no underlying conditions, refer you to an animal behaviorist.

There are, however, certain remedies and steps you can take to ease your dog's anxious state at night.

How as loving pet owners, can we lessen the amount of anxiety your dog experiences at bedtime?

Calming Routines For Dogs At Bedtime.

 The use of scents

Essential oils used in a diffuser can calm your dog at times of stress. Only use diluted oils, as your dog's sense of smell is so much stronger than your own.

Leave a clear route of escape in case your dog initially finds the scent you have chosen overpowering or irritating. Do not allow your dog to ingest these oils or get them on their fur or skin as this causes irritation.

Some oils to try -

  • To help with fear noises during the night (noise phobia)- Cornflour, Rose otto, Hops,
  • To treat the separation anxiety of sleeping apart from the owner - Lavender, Violet Leaf, Vetiver, Rose Hydrosol,
  • For general anxiety- Violet Leaf, Roman Chamomile, Hemp

A bedtime treat

You may yourself have a snack or drink at night as a way to wind down. The same can be effective for our dog’s.

Conditioning them to get used to a treat specifically at bedtime can work to relax them into a slumber and signifies it is time for bed.

As this routine becomes compounded your dog may end up asking you for the treat as they become tired or ready to sleep.

Music therapy

A 2017 study from the University of Glasgow found music to have the same calming effect on dogs as it does on humans.

Classic and reggae music were found to be those genres that were most effective in calming a dog.

The use of white noise can also effectively mask noises that trigger noise phobia for your dog.

Introduce a cuddle toy

Getting your dog a new toy that they can specifically associate with their downtime can be a good way to comfort them through the separation anxiety that sleeping apart from their owner can bring.

These comforting toys should be soft and cuddly, with no squeakers, etc. Think of this as similar to your soft bedtime toy when you were a child.

Cuddling up to it will offer your dog a great sense of security and remove that anxious feeling they may be getting at night.

An increased amount of exercise 

Increasing your dog's amount of exercise can be a superb way to remove the nervous energy they may have had at bedtime.

No one can deny that a physically tired dog is definitely more likely to fall asleep more easily.

In addition, the exercise contributes to a good chemical balance in the brain as serotonin is produced.

 Providing a secure place to sleep

When trying to combat anxiety during the night, you should of course assess your dog's sleeping arrangements.

Perhaps the location of the dog bed can be moved to be closer to the owner, particularly in the case of separation anxiety this could help your pet to sleep.

A well-rested dog is a happy dog, sleep is hence of very high importance towards your dog's well-being. Anxiety issues can become much worse particularly if it is affecting your dog's sleep pattern.

This is as your dog when tired is more sensitive to the routine changes previously highlighted and the stress-causing stimuli become exaggerated for your pet.

Changes can be made to your dog's ability to sleep by giving a bit of thought to their environment. You should look to create a safe haven for them somewhere that they truly feel at ease.

Nowadays you can also buy comfy calming beds for dogs. These beds work wonders through the use of simple tricks.

One of these tricks is to mimic the fur of the mother of your dog. That's right, from the time your dog was a pup, being protected and reassured by their mom.

The shag fur lining to these beds is so plush that it will soothe your pet into a calm sleep frame of mind. One other way these beds also combat anxiety is through their unique shape.

Being shaped like a donut your dog has the opportunity to nestle and burrow down in these beds. This provides a sense of security and comfort for your pet.

Your anxious dog will surely respond positively to these beds that promote a restless night's sleep.

The beauty of these beds also knows as anti-anxiety dog beds, is that they can be used in a preventative way to stave off the development of anxiety in your dog.

No one knows when or if your dog will be affected by anxiety in their lifetime, so we should make sure that preventative measures are in place.

Final Thought

Make sure to be vigilant towards your dog's well-being. Anxiety can have a profound effect on this.

An anxious dog needs immediate help. It is not always easy to pinpoint the impetus of anxiety. but this is the only real way to help an anxious dog.

You may need to employ the services of a dog trainer to help you identify your dog's displacement behaviors and other signs that give a clue as to the cause of the anxiety.

One of the treatments a vet may recommend for a very anxious dog is to medicate with pharmaceuticals.

This should be only used in extreme cases, however, as your dog may need to be on these long term and withdrawals and side effects are commonplace.

Homeopathic remedies can be effective for your dog and should be considered to help aid sleep.

The more holistic natural remedy is usually the preferred one to help aid sleep. Your dog could benefit from a combination of the techniques aforementioned to help them calm at sleep time.

Use a diffuser near their new calming bed and incorporate a cuddle toy. You must experiment and read the body language of your dog to ascertain the best combination to help your pet.

Your dog will be far better able to sleep with the help of the techniques described, good sleep can have a restorative effect that will help your dog combat its anxiety!

Next up why not take a look at this blog post discussing dog anxiety when moving into a new home or this one about natural remedies for anxiety in dogs.

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