In the 2008 blockbuster film entitled “Marley and Me” starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, there were scenes of their precarious, wild card of a Labrador Retriever named Marley, acting up during a thunderstorm. They couldn’t stop him from going ballistic at the sound of the roaring thunder. There was just no reining him in. Their antidote to such a wild situation? Sedatives.
They presented that condition in the most comical way possible and we all got a kick out of poor Marley’s quirks but, that brazen Labrador Retriever was in fact just suffering from anxiety. And while in the movie he was depicted to be anxious only in the face of thunderstorms, a great number of dogs out there suffer from anxiety that can be triggered by many things, including mere nighttime.
This leads to a common question we see asked in the pet parent world - how to calm an anxious dog at night. Ideally, without having to slip them some Dramamine or Prozac!
If you happen to be neighbors with people who own an anxious dog at night, or if you just simply wonder why your own dog seems anxious at night, this blog post is for you! Read through this article and understand what you can do when your dog is suddenly anxious at night. We’ll provide tips and tricks to help calm your four-legged friend down, along with the #1 solution to nighttime anxiety. First things first - for those who are still not quite sold, can dogs really get anxious at night? Let’s discuss.
Yes. Dogs can get nervous and anxious, too. And being irrational creatures with no clear way of expressing how they feel to their owners, you will find that they manifest their anxiety through the most inconvenient of ways. At times, these anxious tics don’t just drive you crazy, but even earn you your neighbor’s ire. It is not easy, and in fact can be very unsettling, explaining to disgruntled neighbors the following morning that you are also clueless on what gets your dog anxious at night. But this brings up a second question - is your dog really anxious, or are they just unruly? Let’s take a look at the most common symptoms of dog anxiety.
Picture this - your dog is acting completely normal. Then, as night sets in, they start barking, pacing around the couch, and acting otherwise abnormal. Then after a while they gnaw on stuff they know are not their toys, scratches at the door, and pants like crazy. You of course start worrying. We all love our dogs, and when they start acting in ways we aren’t used to, we kind of come undone ourselves as well.
What you should commit to your memory is that, when these behaviors are exhibited by your pup, it only means that something has gotten your dog suddenly anxious at night.
The most common symptoms of anxiety among dogs are incessant barking, whining, pacing, restlessness, biting on stuff that isn’t one of their chew toys, scratching on the door as if wanting to go out, and panting. Check for these symptoms when your dog seems anxious at night.
Once you realize your dog is experiencing anxiety, the next question will be - why is my dog so anxious at night?
There may be a lot of variables to consider in identifying the root cause of your pup’s anxiety. Inadequate exercise, age, physical ailments, and other stimuli it may be sensing outside of your house are all probable triggers for your dog’s anxiety at night. We’ll take a deeper look into each of these factors below.
INSUFFICIENT OR COMPLETE LACK OF EXERCISE– A dog who doesn’t get enough walks has a tendency to chew on your furniture, your shoes, and magazines that are lying around the house. When they are not taken out for walks regularly, they have all this pent-up energy that they simply must use for something else, like chewing on your stuff.
PHYSICAL AILMENTS– Dogs who are diagnosed with arthritis and other joint-related maladies get really anxious at night. The pain brought about by these conditions doesn’t actually stop during the day. But in the morning, when everyone is awake and is able to play with them and keep them company, they are distracted from their pain. These distractions are no longer available at night, so don’t be surprised when the falling of darkness gets your dog anxious at night.
AGE– When they are puppies, they can be anxious because they are not yet accustomed to being away from their mom or from the rest of their litter. It could also be that given their tiny constitution, they have small bladders so they might want to take a leak too often in the night but have not yet been trained on how to do so. Older dogs may also be anxious, with their advanced age, comes senility. This affects their hearing, their eyesight, and even their locomotion. Nighttime can heighten the discomfort they feel.
SOUNDS AND OTHER STIMULUS FROM OUTSIDE– Dogs have a keen sense of hearing and smell. Your dog can hear and smell things that you cannot. So any stimulus from outside your house can still get your dog anxious at night. This can be loud noises, a foreign smell from other critters, etc.
Why is my dog so anxious at night? That’s probably the question you had in mind at the start of this read. And now you understand that there are a number of possible reasons. So the next question you’re going to ask yourself is: how to calm an anxious dog at night. Is this really possible? You’ll learn in the next section.
Your first instinct may be to take your pup to the vet. And that’s not a bad option, as they know your pup’s health best. However, we can tell you exactly what they’re going to recommend: medication.
While prescribed medications are generally considered safe for our beloved dogs to take, it is also common knowledge that these medications have reported side effects. Depending on what medication is prescribed for your dog’s diagnosed condition, common side effects from anxiety medicines may persist. These include diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, urine retention, constipation, decreased appetite, dry mouth, agitation, lower seizure threshold, tachycardia, disorientation, among others.
While some of the side effects are anecdotal, many are backed up not just by the experiences of countless dog owners but also by medical studies. This means that these side effects really do take place and can be suffered by your poor pup, should you decide to use prescribed drugs for dogs. The risk exists, and it is up to you to decide if you are going to let your furry friend suffer these side effects.
If you’re not quite sure you want to dope your dog up with anxiety meds that have side effects that may only aggravate their symptoms, you can first try some of the tips we lay out down below and have prescribed anxiety medications only as a last resort, if all else fails.
Many pet parents have taken the simple steps we’ve listed below to help ease their anxious dogs’ restlessness - so keep reading. Chances are, one of these steps might just be what it takes for you to calm an anxious dog at night.
An anxious dog at night is a big problem, especially for busy families who just want to be able to get a good rest by day’s end. When the softest noise or tiniest stimulus gets your dog anxious at night, you might feel helpless. Constant exhaustion from dealing with the same problem, after all, can put you at your wits’ end.
Fortunately, there are things you can try so you can finally stop asking yourself the same eight-word question every evening: WHY IS MY DOG SO ANXIOUS AT NIGHT? Let’s start by getting them tired before nightfall sets in.
If you’re only taking them out on a walk in the morning, take them out on a walk again at night. Tire them out by playing catch. Stimulate them mentally by teaching them new tricks that they can practice every now and then. Find ways for them to exhaust their energy so that when it’s time for bed, they are worn out. Dogs are not machines, and even if they are, machines need rest as well.
Being able to create outlets for your dogs to use up their energy means they will be ready to rest when you are. This tip is good for middle-aged dogs who are not yet burdened by senility and have already been accustomed to the routines of your home but have just developed anxiety for some reason.
This should work for younger pups that have just been separated from their litter as well as their mama. It takes a while to wean dogs from mama’s milk, and from her presence as well. If you have just gotten a new pup and they are suddenly anxious at night, fret not. They’re probably just anxious about feeling like they’re on their own. Let them sleep with an old shirt that smells like their mama, you’ll see how often this trick pacifies your puppy. Rugs and tiny blankets may work too! You can try to keep these familiar and comforting scents in your puppy’s bed for a while but make sure you wean them off of them eventually so you can keep their bed clean and hygienic.
There is a root cause for why your dog seems anxious at night. Perhaps their acute senses enable them to hear noise from outside that your own ears don’t even detect anymore. Understandably, it can be hard to put a finger on what really gets your dog suddenly anxious at night, but we’ve got news for you: calming dog beds really work for this situation!
Calming dog beds are commonly made of a material called “memory foam”. This particular material is said to take after one’s physical form, thereby providing its user with better support and better sleep. It is also said to alleviate joint aches suffered by your dogs.
Calming dog beds from Lucky Paws have an exceptional design that surpasses the benefits offered by other brands. Our calming dog beds have a raised rim feature that helps ground and relax your furry friends by providing better head and neck support. The raised rim creates a sense of security and positively activates the nervous system, allowing your pooch to relax more easily, calm down quickly, and sleep more soundly. In addition to this, we also incorporate premium natural fiber filling that offers joint and muscle pain relief. The round shape and deep crevices of our Pooch Pouch allow your pet to burrow, making it ideal for pets who love to curl up!
Moreover, calming dog beds from Lucky Paws have a vegan faux fur finish, which means that your pups are sure to be reminded of their mama’s fur coat and will surely be induced into the most restful sleep. With all these remarkable features, it is no wonder that our calming dog bed is the #1 choice among pet parents - particularly those with anxious, restless pups.
Calming dog beds are a great first step - but to really treat your pup to the sleeping setup they deserve, get them a dog anxiety blanket. Our dog anxiety blanket at Lucky Paws has anti-anxiety benefits that instantly calms and soothes your fur baby with its ultra-breathable and soft feel, providing an indulgent night’s sleep. And trust us, they would rather sleep on it than chew it - as it mimics the coziness of mummy’s embrace.
Again, this should be a last resort - it’s not ideal because it’s expensive, causes more anxiety in the moment, and will result in medicating your dog. Truth be told, most anxiety medications make your symptoms worse before they can get better. Your poor pup might be more appeased with a more straightforward solution.
Why is my dog so anxious at night – by now you should be able to answer this question so you may look into possible remedies and make things better for your pup. And, you should know exactly how to calm an anxious dog at night.
Why your dog seems anxious at night could throw you into a spiral of overthinking. An anxious dog at night could spell trouble because when they get anxious, you get anxious too. That’s just not good for the household.
Thankfully, with the advent of new technology, products that promote restful sleep among anxious dogs spring up every now and then. So the next time your dog is restless in the night and robs the entire family of sleep, don’t think of calling the vet right ahead. Explore other options, like perhaps a shopping spree online at Lucky Paws.
Take that restless, anxious pup of yours out for a walk, and if that doesn’t work, bring out the big guns– check out the offerings at Lucky Paws’ website and treat your anxious pup to something nice today!