Canine CareHealth

What Can I Give My Dog to Help Him Sleep? The Secret to a Fido’s Peaceful Slumber

Like humans, dogs can also develop sleep disorders. This keeps them awake at night. Worse, your pooch will make sure that they tag you along on their sleepless whining and barking. This lack of sleep will make your dog sluggish and lethargic during the day, which may lead to lack of exercise and obesity. Also, dogs with persisting sleep disorders may become aggressive and irritated. So this will make you wonder: what can I give my dog to help him sleep?

In this post, we will discuss the most common sleeping disorders in canines, what causes sleeplessness, what you can do about it, and more tips for a peaceful slumber.

Your dog’s sleeping cycle

Generally, canines will sleep between 12 and 14 hours a day, which include their nighttime slumber as well as a series of daytime naps. Meanwhile, puppies will sleep more at roughly 20 hours a day. As your dog ages, it will revert to its longer sleeping hours as they get tired easily.

Like us, humans, canines will also experience stages of sleep, including the REM phase, which is the deep sleep.

Although humans and dogs have similarities on sleep cycles, they differ on how much time they spend on each one. Primarily, dogs have a shorter and recurring sleep-wake cycle.

The sleep cycle of a dog…

To give you a picture, we, humans, have a sleep-wake cycle of 7 to 9 hours asleep and 10 to 17 hours awake. Meanwhile, in dogs, the sleep-wake cycle is very short with 16 minutes asleep, 5 minutes awake.

Upon falling asleep, dogs will enter the deep sleep phase, also called REM or Rapid Eye Movement stage. At this point, the dog’s blood pressure drops and their breathing will slow down. In addition, dogs that are in the REM stage will twitch or often mimic the running movement as they dream of chasing after squirrels and other things.

Upon the completion of the REM phase, it’s normal for dogs to wake up. Also, it’s second nature for canines to stay alert all the time to guard their pack. Due to this on and off cycle, canines need to sleep longer than humans. However, some dogs experience poor sleeping habits, causing them to wake up longer and frequently during the night.

In this video, Dr. Pete Wedderburn tells us more about the amount of sleep our dogs should get per day.

Why sleep is essential to canines

Like most mammal, sleep is a crucial part of the day. It’s the phase when the body regenerates its energy. Think of it as a computer system. For hours of use, the computer will experience memory overload. In this case, a reboot is needed. This reboot is equivalent to sleep.

Moreover, sleep impacts your dog’s immune system, learning abilities, and brain development, much so for growing puppies. Remember that sleep-deprived canines are more likely to acquire infections. Also, it will perform poorly on various training drills.

Also, if your dog seems grumpy and irritated during the day, it’s possible that it’s not getting enough winks at time. You should consider evaluating their sleep hygiene to improve their quality of slumber.

Your dog’s sleeplessness is also your problem

Take note that your dog’s sleeping problem will also affect you as their owner. Dogs that don’t get proper sleep at night will bark, howl, whine, and even destroy things. With this noise, you will also lose sleep. Some dogs will only stop once they see their owners. With this, you’ll end up letting them sleep on your bed with your own quality of sleep being compromised.

Also, as a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog healthy. If you notice a change on your dog’s behavior or if the pooch exhibits any of the symptoms below, you should consult with a vet right away.

If you don’t act on your dog’s sleep problems, it will soon affect your own sleep. Also, your pooch will become lethargic and develop other health problems associated with sleep or lack thereof.

In this video, the Mayo Clinic gives us a glimpse of their study on why you should stop your dog from sleeping in your own bed:

Common sleeping disorders among canines

The first step to fixing the sleep problem of your dog is by determining what’s causing it. The following are some of the most common sleeping disorders observed among dogs:


Like humans, dogs can also develop insomnia. This condition can persist as either difficulty falling asleep or waking up too early. Also, a dog that wakes up too early will find it hard to go back to sleep. This will make dogs lose sleep.

Moreover, insomnia can be due to a myriad of reasons. Your dog might be in pain or discomfort, which causes them to wake up prematurely or not to sleep at all. Also, an overreactive bladder may wake your dog up frequently during the night.

Nevertheless, insomnia is rare among canines. But if you notice that your dog is experiencing it, you should consult with a vet right away. The dog doctor will have to rule out various health conditions or have your dog’s illnesses treated right away.

Wondering how insomnia happens to dogs? In this video, Wochit News tells us more about a study conducted among canines as well as their sleeping behaviors:


The uncontrollable bouts of sleep characterize narcolepsy. This is a nervous system disorder that occurs in humans and dogs.

Narcolepsy takes place when the brain produces low amounts of hypocretin, the hormone responsible for alertness and wakefulness. Some breeds with a high predisposition to narcolepsy include Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, and Poodles.

In addition, narcolepsy can be inherited while others are developed as a secondary condition associated with obesity or immune system problems.

During a bout of narcolepsy, your dog will suddenly collapse or slump into a deep sleep. In this condition, your pooch will fall directly to the REM phase. Still, loud noises and movement can wake the dog up from the narcoleptic episode.

Nevertheless, narcolepsy isn’t life-threatening for your pooch. It’s also not curable. The only problem with this is it affects your dog’s ability to perform activities and mingle with their owners.

In this video, we’ll get to know Skeeter, a Toy Poodle with narcolepsy:

**REM Behavior Disorder

REM Behavior Disorder doesn’t necessarily cause your dog to lose sleep. However, this condition causes them to act out their dreams, including chasing, barking, or even biting. Some dogs will attack objects or become extremely violent.

However, REM Behavior Disorder shouldn’t be confused with seizures. Unlike the latter, dogs with REM Behavior Disorder can wake up without confusion. If physical activity during sleep is starting to harm your dog, you can seek a vet’s help. The veterinarian can prescribe a medication to reduce the activity. Take note that you should never administer any medication to your dog unless an expert duly prescribes it.

In this video, we’ll see how REM Sleep Disorder manifests to Nero, an 8-year-old Boxer:

**Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea happens when the airway of the dog collapses or narrows during sleep. When this happens, the dog will be jolted awake due to the blocked airway. In addition, dogs with sleep apnea will be awakened frequently, sometimes every 20 seconds. This will lead to poor sleep quality.

This condition is common among brachycephalic or flat-faced dogs. These canines have shorter airways, which makes them prone to sleep apnea. Some of these breeds include Boston Terriers, Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, and more. Obese dogs are also susceptible to sleep apnea as the extra fats put pressure on their airways.

If your dog is snoring loudly or waking up constantly at night, the pooch may be experiencing sleep apnea. Take note that this condition is life-threatening and must be addressed right away.

Signs that your dog isn’t getting enough sleep

Do you suspect that your dog isn’t getting rest at night? You should watch out for the following symptoms:

-Lethargy and sleepiness during daytime
-Irritability and grumpiness
-Failure to remember commands
-Disorientation and difficulty concentrating
-Reluctance to perform physical activities, prefers to sleep during the day
-Loud snoring and bring jolted to consciousness
-Constant crying at night

If you notice any of these signs on your dog, you should have it evaluated by a veterinarian right away.

Factors that affect your dog’s quality of sleep

Aside from sleep disorders, your dog may experience problems at night due to some health factors. Regardless of the cause, it requires immediate solutions to improve the quality of life of your pet.

The following are some of the risk factors that may affect your dog’s sleep quality:

-Old age
-Comfort level of sleeping quarters
-Dogs with PTSD
Lingering health conditions
-Lack of exercise
-Anxiety and stress
-Parasite infestation
-Current medications

If you suspect that any of these are ruining your dog’s sleep, you should tap the help of a professional right away.

what can I give my dog to help him sleep

What can I give my dog to help him sleep?

So what can I give my dog to help him sleep? The following are some of the medications and practices you can give your dog to improve their slumber.


Upon consultation with a vet, your dog can be prescribed with melatonin. However, melatonin medications for animals aren’t approved by the FDA yet. Still, a veterinarian can prescribe the right dosage to limit the potential side effects.

In addition, melatonin is actually a substance that our body produces to induce sleep. However, some dogs and humans tend to have lower rates of melatonin, which is why they find it hard to sleep.

Remember that melatonin should only be given to a dog upon the prescription of a vet. If not, your dog will be exposed to a higher risk of side effects, including infertility, gastric issues, and confusion.

**Consider a pheromone product

If you find melatonin unsafe for your dog, you can ask your dog’s vet for Comfort Zone Adaptil. This is a commercial and synthetic version of the pheromones that make dogs feel safe in their environment. If administered properly, this drug should be safe with very minimal side effects.

This drug comes in a spray, vapor, or collar form, which makes it easy to apply to your dog. But although this is safe, you should still ask the advice of a veterinarian.

**More exercise

Some dogs tend to bark and chew at night because they didn’t get enough exercise during the day. So as much as possible, take your dog to daily walks and give them enough playtime. If not, they will be wired busy burning the extra energy at night.

However, avoid exercising your dog at night. Always keep evenings calm so your dog can ease into bedtime much easier.

**A comfy bed

If your dog is sleeping on the floor, then it’s time give it a comfortable bed. Orthopedic beds are ideal for large dogs that are prone to joint issues. If your dog is currently in pain, a comfy bed will help them sleep at night.

Make sure that you choose a washable bed for easier cleaning. Also, avoid cedar chip beds as these are uncomfortable, even though they tend to repel critters.

**Bathroom breaks before bedtime

Another reason why your dog can’t sleep at night is your failure to take them to bathroom breaks. An hour or two after dinner, you should bring your dog outdoors to pee and poo. This way, when you crate them at night, they will be more relaxed and comfortable.

Still, avoid triggering playtime during the bathroom break. Again, the hours leading to bedtime should be relaxed.

**Diffuse lavender oil

If the vet approves, you can diffuse lavender oil to soothe and calm your dog. However, you should know that not all essential oils are safe for dogs. You should always as the vet before you use it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is my dog not sleeping?

A: There are many reasons as to why your dog will find it hard to sleep. It could be anxiety, pain, fear, discomfort, or a sleeping disorder. If it persists, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian to find the best solution.

Q: Why is my dog crying at night all of a sudden?

A: If it’s the first time that your dog is sleeping outside of your bedroom, they may be experiencing separation anxiety. Also, you probably forgot to give them the much-needed bathroom break before bedtime.

Q: Do dogs prefer to sleep in the dark?

A: Each dog will have different reactions to darkness. Some will whine while others are totally fine with it. This is a matter of knowing how your dog will react. If the pooch is afraid of the dark, you can leave a light on to appease their fears.

Q: Is it bad to let the dog sleep in your bed?

A: While letting your dog sleep on your bed is your choice; you might risk your own health in the process. Large dogs tend to consume a big space of your bed. Also, the kicking may disrupt your sleep cycle, which will make you tired in the morning.

Q: Does sleeping with your dog cause separation anxiety?

A: If your dog is already suffering from separation anxiety, letting them sleep on your bed won’t fix the problem. In fact, you’ll just reward the behavior. Instead, you can transition your doggo to sleeping in a different bed in your bedroom then outside.

Final words

What can I give my dog to help him sleep? The tips we gave here will help improve the quality of sleep of your dog. The key here is the early diagnosis of the problem so you can act right away. Most of all, the help of a veterinarian is indispensable.