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  • Writer's pictureMary Puppins

Why Do Older Dogs Wake Up During The Night?

Updated: Feb 21

Older dogs wake up Jack Russell asleep

Older Dogs Often Wake Up During The Night

As dogs get older, many owners notice them wake up during the night.

In this exploration, we'll investigate why these nighttime awakenings happen in our senior pups.

We want to understand why older dogs wake up during the night and uncover the reasons behind this typical behaviour.

Reasons Why Older Dogs Wake Up at Night

Several factors can explain why our older dogs experience night-time wake-ups.

Understanding these elements sheds light on how we can help them get a better night's sleep.

Physical Triggers

As dogs age, they may develop physical discomforts like arthritis or other ailments.

These conditions can lead to restlessness, causing older dogs to wake up during the night.

Mental Factors

Cognitive changes, such as canine dementia, are more common in older dogs.

Dementia can lead to confusion and anxiety, prompting older dpgs to wake up during the night.

Additionally, changes in their sleep-wake cycle may contribute to this behaviour.

Environmental Influences

Shifts in the environment can impact older dogs.

Changes in routine, unfamiliar noises, or even a new sleeping arrangement may disrupt their sleep pattern, causing them to wake up during the night.

Understanding these potential triggers allows us to address the specific needs of older dogs and create an environment that promotes better sleep.

From providing a comfortable bed to managing any physical discomfort they may be experiencing, a deliberate approach can significantly impact how well they sleep at night.


"Night-time waking in our senior pets is a common problem we hear from our owners. A good night's sleep is essential for both dogs and people and when our pets wake up in the middle of the night, the disturbance can affect the entire family. Interrupted sleep in older pets can occur for many reasons including medical, behavioural and cognitive problems." - Amherst Veterinary Hospital


As our beloved companions age, it's not uncommon for them to encounter disruptions in their sleep patterns.

Understanding these issues and implementing thoughtful solutions can contribute to more restful nights for our older dogs.

1. Physical Comfort

Ensure your older dog has a cosy and orthopaedic bed to alleviate discomfort caused by arthritis.

Blankets or cushions can provide extra support, making their sleeping space more inviting.

2. Consistent Routine

Establishing a consistent daily routine helps older dogs feel secure.

This routine includes regular feeding times, bathroom breaks, and bedtime rituals.

Predictability in their day can contribute to a more stable sleep pattern and prevent a midnight wake up.

3. Adequate Exercise

Regular, gentle exercise tailored to their abilities is crucial.

Physical activity benefits overall health and can help with better sleep.

Remember that the intensity and duration should align with your dog's age and health status.

4. Mental Stimulation

Combat cognitive decline by engaging your older dog's mind.

Puzzle toys, interactive games, and short training sessions can help keep their brains active and reduce anxiety, potentially minimising the night-time wake-up.

5. Comforting Environment

Create a serene sleeping environment.

Think about factors such as room temperature, noise levels, and lighting.

Some older dogs may benefit from a nightlight, while others prefer a darker space.

6. Veterinary Check-ups

Regular vet check-ups are crucial as your older dogs age.

Address any underlying health issues promptly. Sometimes, sleep disturbances can indicate an undiagnosed problem that needs attention.

Incorporating these adjustments into your older dog's routine can create a conducive atmosphere for restful nights.

Remember, each dog is unique, so observe their reactions to changes and tailor solutions accordingly.

Extra care and attention go a long way in ensuring your older dog enjoys a peaceful and rejuvenating night's sleep.

Ensure a Comfy Sleep Area For Your Older Dogs

Ensuring a comfortable sleep environment is paramount for the well-being of our cherished older dogs, especially as they navigate the challenges of ageing.

Importance of Comfort

Adequate rest plays a vital role in maintaining the health and happiness of older dogs.

Creating a space where they feel secure and relaxed minimises disturbances during the night.

Older dogs wake up in the night, pug asleep

Tips for Optimal Sleeping Space For Older Dogs

1. Bedding Matters

Invest in a supportive and orthopaedic bed tailored to the specific needs of older dogs.

This bed would help alleviate any discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis.

2. Temperature Control

Maintain a comfortable room temperature.

Older dogs may be more sensitive to extremes, so ensure they are neither too hot nor too cold.

Consider providing a cosy blanket for added warmth.

3. Dim Lighting

While some dogs prefer darkness, others find comfort in a subtle nightlight.

Adjust the lighting based on your dog's preference to create a soothing atmosphere.

4. Noise Management

Minimise disruptive noises during the night.

Consider background white noise if your older dogs are sensitive to external sounds.

A calm and quiet environment promotes uninterrupted sleep.

5. Familiar Scents

Introduce familiar scents in their sleeping area, such as a piece of your clothing.

Scents like these can provide reassurance and a sense of security, reducing anxiety.

By paying attention to these details, you can curate a sleep environment that caters to the specific needs of your older dogs.

Remember, their comfort is critical to a peaceful night's sleep, furthering their overall health and happiness as they gracefully age.

Case Studies of Older Dogs Who Wake Up in the Night

Meet Max, a senior Lhasa Apso who started waking up frequently during the night.

His owners noticed he struggled to settle and would often whine.

A visit to the vet revealed arthritic discomfort.

His nighttime rest improved by providing a soft, orthopaedic bed and incorporating joint supplements into Max's routine.

Tailoring the sleep environment to accommodate his physical needs significantly impacted his overall well-being.

Then there's Whiskey, an older Yorkie. Whiskey began displaying restlessness at night, disturbing her owners' sleep.

Recognising potential cognitive changes, they introduced interactive toys and puzzle feeders to engage her mind during the day.

This mental stimulation reduced nighttime wake-ups and brought a spark back into Whiskers' daily life.

These case studies exemplify the diverse factors influencing older dogs and how targeted interventions can positively impact their sleep patterns.

Whether addressing physical discomfort or cognitive changes, a thoughtful approach tailored to the individual needs of our senior companions can lead to more peaceful and restful nights.

why do dogs snore as they get older/why do older dogs snore?

Dogs may snore more as they age due to factors such as decreased muscle tone in the throat and airway, obesity, dental issues, respiratory conditions, or underlying health problems.

Providing a comfortable sleeping environment and addressing any potential health issues can help reduce snoring in older dogs.

why do older dogs pace at night?

Older dogs may pace at night due to various reasons, including discomfort from arthritis or joint pain, cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to Alzheimer's in humans), anxiety, or changes in sleep patterns.

Providing a comfortable sleeping environment, regular exercise, and addressing any underlying health issues can help reduce night-time pacing in older dogs.

why do dogs sleep so much when they get older?

Dogs tend to sleep more as they age due to factors like decreased activity levels, changes in metabolism, and age-related health conditions.

Older dogs may also experience changes in their sleep-wake cycle and spend more time resting to conserve energy.

Monitor your dog's sleep patterns and consult with a veterinarian if you notice changes or concerns.

what to expect when dogs get older?

As dogs age, you can expect various physical and behavioural changes, including decreased energy levels, changes in appetite and weight, reduced mobility, hearing or vision loss, dental issues, and an increased likelihood of developing age-related health conditions like arthritis or cognitive dysfunction.

Providing appropriate veterinary care, nutrition, exercise, and mental stimulation can help support your dog's health and quality of life as they age.


"The sleeping pattern of your dog will naturally change as they age. Older dogs spend more of their time asleep, just like elderly people, but are also more likely to cat-nap in the day and wake up several times overnight." - Butternut Box


Final Thoughts

In understanding why older dogs may wake up during the night, we unveil insights crucial for their well-being.

Addressing physical discomfort and mental stimulation allows us to create a sleep environment customised to their needs.

Acknowledging and acting upon these nuances, we pave the way for more restful nights for our cherished senior companions.

Prioritising their comfort ensures sleep, contributing to their overall health and happiness.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

At Mary Puppins,  we prioritise your cherished pets' well-being, offering a haven of comfort and care during their stay.

Our commitment is to ensure your small breed dogs are treated like family, receiving top-notch attention and care.

BOOK NOW  via our website. We have limited places and get booked up super fast. Give your little dog the five-star VIP holiday they deserve, while you enjoy yours.

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Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc

Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.



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